There is a trailer for the Sherlock Gnomes film. Ignore it. It does not reflect the tone, theme or nature of the movie. Yet it has played in so many cinemas for the last year, and made me resolute not to see the film. It looked awful.
See? Who would want to see that?
But then the producers asked me, and my kids to see it one sunny Sunday morning in London, and the mother-in-law had never been to such an event and suddenly I found myself watching a film I had every intention of hating, at the back seat of an IMAX, behind Kim Newman, who I have no idea why he was here save for the tenuity of the Sherlock Holmes connection, trying to spot the backs of producer Elton John and voice Steven Merchant's heads down at the front. Tip, Merchant is really easy to spot, he towers a foot over everyone else in the room, even sitting down. Glad I wasn't behind him…
And then we got a very different film.
I went back to check. A good 85% of the content of the trailer isn't in the film. The head injury to a small gnome, the farting jacuzzi, Mankini twerking, the line 'No Ship Sherlock' given such play in all trailers, were utterly excised from the final cut. Did someone with an element of taste get involved? Were there significant Rogue One-like scenes reshot? Or were they, Trainspotting style, never meant to be in the film in the first place?
So we have a sequel to the fairl-bland-and-boring Gnomeo And Juliet, made far more palatable by being a Sherlock Holmes story. Although there were other options at the beginning – my favourite being a potential Spider-Gnome: Gnomecoming – we get a Sherlock Holmes full of all the stereotypes that have built up over the years, deerstalker, magnifying glass, even a dominating Irene Adler, though sadly actually moments of deduction are sparse and skipped over. This is a game of following obscurely placed deliberate clues rather than trying to deduce the machinations of a madman. Johnny Depp disappears completely into his Sherlock Holmes voice, Chiwetel Ejiofor's Watson is more enjoyable but the star vocal performance of the movie has to go to Jamie Demetriou's Moriarty, who truly relishes the role.
It's hardly a challenging film, but certain moments such as Sherlock Holmes' mind palace portrayed as a 2D black and white Escher animation was a standout, and the Toy-Story-alike world of Irene's club suggested this was only a very small part of what was really going on.
I mean, this is not a great film. And in the same year as Early Man and Coco came out, it should have been a lot better. But it was so much better than I was expecting.
If it wasn't for the kids and the PR people, I would never have chosen to see the film, because of the trailer. And now? I'm glad I did. And we are using the loaves of bread we were handed as a freebie (sponsored by Hovis, Baker Street etc etc) for the sandwiches this week too…
Sherlock Gnomes is released in the UK on May 10th, with previews the week before.