You are left wondering exactly who 'Sherlock Gnomes (2018)' is for, other than the pun-masters who came up with its title while presumably snickering for a second and then realising they have to spend literally years to make an entire feature surrounding their wordsmith handiwork. See, it's not like any of the four year-old's this should be aimed at will get most of the 'adult' or referential humour or even know who 'Sherlock Holmes' is, much less care for his porcelain counterpart, and I'd even stretch to say that the 'potty' humour that's seen here is just too subtle to give kids a giggle, either. It simultaneously seems to aim too young and too old, failing to find its audience because of this. Where the first 'Gnomeo & Juliet (2011)' sought to bring a classic Shakespeare story to a younger audience, however successfully, this one clearly just started with a pun and spun out from there, with no real intention of adapting a proper source story or even sticking to the character in any real way. It's not too big a leap to assume the character was only chosen due to the earliest of his stories being in the public domain. The result is a mishmash of the first flick with these loosely adapted, but not really parodied, characters from a classic adult detective fiction that has no connection to either 'Romeo & Juliet' or any of the Gnome elements from the franchise. These pieces clash together and vie for attention in a bizarre way, both competing to control a film which should really be a sequel to its predecessor but can't properly be because it's not allowed to have time away from its new, essentially unrelated characters. It therefore doesn't introduce children to the 'Holmes' character through his 'Gnomes' variant, in the way that 'Gnomeo' leads nicely into 'Romeo' even though the former is a severely watered down version of the latter, but still heavily borrows an amalgamation of elements from several of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories and uses them as fodder for clumsy jokes and haphazard plot elements. It's almost as if you'd need to be a proper 'Holmes' fan to even understand most of these references, and if you're a fan you probably won't like this or its representation of the character - though, you probably won't see it, to be fair. The piece also opens the world up in strange ways that make it feel closer to 'Toy Story (1995)' in the worst way possible, a bad imitation losing its identity in every way it can.
It's actually a little hard to put my finger on why I disliked this one as much as I did, for in theory it ought to be a harmless, if joyless, experience that can be watched passively, yet easily. It's not offensive, the voice-work is decent and so is the animation. There was clearly work put into the piece and the messages are important, if a little ham-fisted. On paper, it is certainly far from the worst thing I've seen. Yet, I have a distinct distaste for it. I'm not angry, tired or still cringing about it (though I was cringing pretty much every time Elton John came on in lieu of a musical score), and I wasn't totally bored while watching. I think that might just be it, though: the lack of any real response. It isn't good for anything, not even putting you to sleep. 3/10