The brain child of the co-director of Kung Fu Panda, Sherlock Gnomes, the sequel to 2011's animated smash Gnomeo and Juliet, is a light-hearted romp through London that has something for the whole family. The film is a mystery caper where Gnomeo and Juliet's entire extended family get kidnapped and the pair aid the 'world's first gnome consulting detective' on a chase across London to save them all before they're cruelly smashed. Elton John executive-produced the film, and the soundtrack is chocked full of poppier versions of all his best loved songs from start to finish. The animation also is second to none and one particular scene, where we find our heroes looking for clues in Chinatown, features some adorable 'maneki-neko' or lucky cats with beautiful designs that prove a memorable addition to the film.
The focus of this film is more on Sherlock Gnomes and his partner, Gnome Watson, and the story is surprisingly committed to the Arthur Conan Doyle subject matter. Sherlock Gnomes acts as a primer for children on the intrepid detective and his adventures, with appearances from Moriarty and Irene Adler as well as some references just for the grown ups - I clocked a crate in the corner of one scene inscribed with the words 'Moffat and Gatiss', a nod to the creators of BBC's Sherlock. Johnny Depp's voice work as the titular Sherlock Gnomes is something special, and the other parents in the cinema were shocked to find out who it was when the credits rolled. The whole cast is star-studded from the largest roles to the smallest, with Julie Walters voicing the garden's elderly owner and Ozzy Osborne voicing a porcelain fawn.
There's a lot to love in this film from its vintage-inspired soundtrack and sparkling voice talent to the strength of the mystery at its heart. I particularly loved the way the film takes you through Sherlock's mind palace, with the black and white animation adding a different spin to the character that wouldn't be out of place in a live action movie. The message, too, of not taking your loved ones for granted can resonate with viewers of any age. Sherlock Gnomes is the perfect film to take your kids to see, and you might walk away from it having found more than you bargained for.