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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Cindy Prascik's Triple Feature Weekend: Sherlock Gnomes / Peter Rabbit / Pacific Rim: Uprising

Dearest Blog: Yesterday it was off to Marquee Cinemas for that rarest of treats: a triple feature. On the docket: Sherlock Gnomes, Peter Rabbit, and Pacific Rim: Uprising.
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.
First up: Sherlock Gnomes.
When all of London's garden gnomes go missing, it's up to the world's greatest detective to solve the case.
Like it's predecessor Gnomeo and Juliet, Sherlock Gnomes banks on good-nature and likability for its appeal. It's not a game-changer and and it won't be remembered by awards voters when that time rolls around again, but it's the most enjoyable movie I've seen in a good long while. The movie is blessed with a terrific cast, including newcomers Johnny Depp and Chiwetel Ejiofor, returning favorites James McAvoy and Emily Blunt, and...yes...Ozzy Osbourne, whom the filmmakers are wise enough to use in moderation. The art and animation are pretty, bright, and colorful, if not revolutionary, and the cute story bounces along to a cheerful score by Chris Bacon, peppered with familiar snippets of Elton John songs. Sherlock Gnomes expertly rides a fine line, working for kids of all ages while also entertaining adults. There is nothing here that will disturb or upset the young ones, but, in addition to the tunes, there are several adult gags that aim far enough over kids' heads that parents won't be left answering uncomfortable questions afterward. If the message is familiar, the movie delivers it in such charming fashion you won't even mind. Sadly, there's no Jason Statham gnome this time around (*sobs*), but I still loved Sherlock Gnomes exactly as much as I expected, and I expected a LOT.
Sherlock Gnomes runs a quick 86 minutes and is rated PG for "some rude and suggestive humor." (Though the more crass bits from the trailer are missing from the finished product.)
Sherlock Gnomes is great fun for all ages. Of a possible nine Weasleys, Sherlock Gnomes gets eight.
Next on my agenda: Peter Rabbit.
Rabbits and humans jockey for territory in a somewhat abrasive fairytale.
Well, dear reader(s), if there's one thing I want you to know right off the bat, it's that Peter Rabbit probably isn't as bad as you'd think from the trailers or from everything you've heard. Make no mistake, it has BIG problems, but it overcomes most of them for an enjoyable outing.
Getting the bad news out of the way first, we'll begin with the obvious: Those damn rabbits. They are utterly insufferable, like the brattiest, most annoying kids you've ever met. It makes rooting for them impossible, even when the film hits that "delivering the message" point where the relevant parties are supposed to become the best versions of themselves. While the physical comedy mostly works, and Domhnall Gleeson's expressions and timing are impeccable (more on that later), the film's "jokes" are painfully bad, especially a couple awkward attempts at social commentary. The movie struggles mightily to settle on a tone, doubling-down on unfunny attempts at humor and, especially towards the beginning, coming across rather nasty. Finally, though the parental guidelines don't mention it, there are a couple things in this movie that may be upsetting to younger kids. At one point when the rabbits' well being is threatened, there was a small boy in my screening screaming, "I don't like it! I DON'T LIKE IT!" care with those little ones, will ya?
Now the good news, and there's more of it than I expected. Leads Domhnall Gleeson and Rose Byrne are ridiculously adorable and have great chemistry. Gleeson, who seems to be in every single movie these days and continues to prove he's pretty amazing at everything, shows off some solid comic chops, working mostly opposite a tennis ball on a stick that would later become the film's talking woodland creatures. An almost-unrecognizable Sam Neill is also great (as always) in too little screen time. The story never really goes anywhere you don't expect, but I'm not sure you'd want it to. Songs pop up awkwardly throughout the movie, but there are some great pop nuggets that are no less enjoyable for the weird placement. Ultimately, the charm of Gleeson and Byrne outweighs the negatives just enough to make Peter Rabbit worth your while.
Peter Rabbit clocks in at 95 minutes and is rated PG for "some rude humor and action."
I'd taken a pass on Peter Rabbit weeks ago, and only saw it this week by virtue of a cinema schedule that left a huge gap between Sherlock Gnomes and Pacific Rim. In the finest example of backhanded praise you're likely to find today, I can tell you it was certainly better than spending two hours sitting in the hallway. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Peter Rabbit gets five.
Closing yesterday's triple-header was the sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising.
Hey guys...guys...we're cancelling the apocalypse again, 'kay?
Uprising is a big step down from the original Pacific Rim, and I can assure you with a reasonable amount of certainty, dear reader(s), that I didn't find it so only because it's missing Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba. (Though that won't ever help in my eyes, obvs.) The film suffers from paper-doll characters and painfully bad dialogue, but is salvaged somewhat by its likable cast. Though the action is solid, the plot is weak and filled with predictable twists. Lorne Balfe's score is properly epic, and the effects are as massive as a movie-hugeness junkie like me could hope, but, ultimately, if you want brainless fun with big robots, Transformers is a better option.
Pacific Rim: Uprising is a witless good time that you'll forget almost as soon as you exit the cinema. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Pacific Rim: Uprising gets six.
Until next time...

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