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dir John Stevenson
scr Andy Riley, Kevin Cecil, Emily Cook, Kathy Greenberg
prd David Furnish, Steve Hamilton Shaw, Carolyn Soper
voices James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Johnny Depp, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mary J Blige, Jamie Demetriou, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Ashley Jensen, Matt Lucas, Stephen Merchant, Ozzy Osbourne
release US 23.Mar.18, UK 11.May.18
18/UK Paramount 1h26
An ornamental crime: Watson, Gnomeo, Juliet and Sherlock
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
The gang from 2011's Gnomeo & Juliet is back for another high-spirited romp that, like the original, is a lot funnier than it should be. A steady stream of verbal and visual gags keeps grown-ups entertained, while kids will giggle at the vaguely anarchic antics. The plot is deliberately nonsensical, and it's again accompanied by classic Elton John songs (he's an executive producer), as well as hummable new tunes.
After Gnomeo and Juliet (McAvoy and Blunt) and their extended clan moves to London, they have a new garden to cultivate. But there's a kidnapper on the loose, and ace detective Sherlock (Depp) is on the case with his sidekick Watson (Ejiofor). Clues point to arch-nemesis Moriarty (Demetriou), even though he has apparently been smashed. Then when Gnomeo and Juliet return to find all of their friends and family have been abducted, they team up with Sherlock and Watson to face a series of increasingly perilous threats. Plus several twists in the tale.
The screenwriters merrily over-explain everything in wildly ridiculous monologs that make it clear to the audience that we shouldn't bother trying to make sense of what's going on. Instead, we sit back and enjoy the antics, which are cleverly animated to echo the characters' ceramic physicalities, plus a range of other ornamental beings like menacing gargoyles and Chinese waving-cat ninjas, all of whom are played for laughs. As are the rude gnomes that add the potty humour that children love.
The unusually high-powered vocal cast dives into the characters with gusto, playfully punching all of the most amusing lines and mercilessly milking every pun. This makes the characters a lot more fun than expected, because the interaction between them zings with energy. The consistent spark of wit holds things together even if there's never much depth or complexity to anything that happens. But it's enjoyable to spend some time with these smiley little figures.
A little more sophistication in the plot might have helped make this a classic and given it a stronger emotional punch. Instead, the filmmakers even make a joke of the surging sentimentality in the finale. As is, everything is safe and predictable, and the overriding messages about working together and not taking friends for granted are worthwhile if you've never heard them. But for what it is, this finely animated London adventure at least keeps us giggling right to the end.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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