From Rathbone to Downey Jr, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary creation of Sherlock Holmes has seen various iterations of the deerstalker wearing detective, with recent TV shows either side of the Atlantic proving him to be a popular figure. Clearly, with such a rich background there’s plenty of opportunities to poke fun at the character but you’d rather poke your own eyes out after watching ‘Holmes and Watson’.
After a marrow incident, London dwelling Sherlock Holmes (Will Ferrell) and John Watson (John C. Reilly) try to stop a potential threat against Queen Victoria (Pam Ferris). The titular duo get in all manner of ridiculous hi-jinks as it seems Professor Moriarty (Ralph Fiennes) may be behind the sinister scheme.
This is the fourth team up between Ferrell and Reilly and it’s fair to say they’ve obviously built up a rapport and chemistry together but that does not really show in this cringey film. The ideas themselves, of riffing on the world of Sherlock Holmes, aren’t a bad starting point, if done correctly it could be a perfect model to craft a clever, comedic tale but this is a million miles from that dreamy approach.
Perhaps I’m bitter because I’m back at work and not enjoying the frivolities of Christmas leftovers and relaxation but this truly is a dire movie and it’s no surprise that many people have been walking out of the cinema during showings, so either they all share my work-related post festive bitterness or they realise what god awful trash it is. Let’s pray a follow up is never green-lit.
It feels like ‘Get Hard’ writer and director Etan Cohen thinks his script to be funnier than it actually is. All the spoofing of the Sherlock Holmes lore is far from amusing and feels like a messy, wasted chance to do something better. Just from the moment Holmes and his trusty ward meet, there’s this unmistakable pain which slams into you and never relents for the duration. Cohen’s screenplay hurls in jabs about Donald Trump’s America believing itself to be relevant and playful but they’re just sterile jokes which have been done many times now and better before.
It’s also a film which crazily jumps all over the place in terms of timings and a final act threat of Queen and Country is situated on the doomed ship made film-famous by James Cameron. Honestly, ‘Holmes and Watson’ is like the Titanic; a deeply unfunny movie doomed to sink with catastrophic effect. Literally only one chuckle was to be had, in an expected but well delivered “No s**t Sherlock” line and I guess a song penned by Alan Menken is a light distraction from the pile of doo-doo either side of it.
Will Ferrell is a buffoon and as shouty as ever; his take on the British accent is to skew it too camp and posh. John C. Reilly is gonna wreck it if he keeps doing these terrible flicks and he’ll surely be better in 2019’s double act led ‘Stan and Ollie’, at least you’d hope so. Kelly Macdonald is Miss Hudson and she gurns and grimaces through probable direction to just ham up her Scottish accent. She, Rebecca Hall and Ralph Fiennes can do so much better and at least the latter is underused so he can be happy he doesn’t appear in this dull drivel too much.
The brash American crass of Ferrell and Cohen definitely don’t suit the 221B Baker Street resident. It’s an irritating ache, more like weak skits strung together with a barely there plot in between, one that’s massively predictable and insanely lacking in engaging entertainment. ‘Holmes and Watson’ deserves to be shoved over the Reichenbach Falls.
Written by Troy Balmayer
Rating – 1/10
Question: What is your favourite Film or TV version of Sherlock Holmes?
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