By Jack Dignan
In Cinemas Now
Ever since their literary debut in the late 1800s, the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson have been shared amongst friends and adapted to the big screen year after year. Barely a day will go by nowadays without a new book or adaptation, whether that’s a movie or TV show. Their place in pop culture is unparalleled. And now, mere days before 2018 comes to a close, we finally get this year’s fix in the form of a comedic take on these iconic characters, which sees Step Brothers and Talladega Nights co-stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly reuniting and stepping into their shoes.
Holmes & Watson takes everything you know and love about these characters and blends it into a slapstick comedy that sees the two heroes solving the mystery behind a murder that’s taken place at Buckingham Palace. A mysterious note left for them by Moriarty (Ralph Fiennes) warns them that if they don’t solve the case in 4 days, he’ll kill Queen Victoria (Pam Ferris). Just think about that plot for a second. It’s a film in which little makes sense and most of the jokes fall flat, yet for whatever reason, and despite its lack of artistic integrity, I didn’t completely hate it.
Now, before you yell at me and remind me that this film currently sits at a very prestigious 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, I know this film isn’t good. I’m not saying I liked it. I just feel as though there were movies this year that hurt me in ways I won’t recover, but Holmes & Watson isn’t one of them (I don’t want to name names, but a certain Clint Eastwood film still has me waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night). It’s a dull, idiotic interpretation of these characters that’s devoid of life, creative humour or a plot that makes an ounce of sense.
Also, does anybody year is this film set in? Traditionally, Holmes stories take place in the 1800s. In Holmes & Watson Queen Victoria is ruling over England, which fits as she remained in power until 1901, but the film goes out of its way to show that the Titanic is just days away from leaving, which didn’t happen until 1912, and that’s without even delving into the “timely” cameos from celebrities who I guess were roughly from this era so sure, let’s put them in. But hey, maybe I’m just overanalysing the time period of a movie that never tried to establish logic in the first place.
In fact, the only reason this film manages to kind-of work is thanks to the chemistry shared between Ferrell and Reilly. A lot of the jokes resulted in dead silence from the entire audience, but watching the two interact and have fun on screen is always enjoyable. Their charisma and charm is able to elevate any scene, even with writing and direction that’s utterly incompetent, but what did I really expect from Etan Cohen’s follow-up to Get Hard? However, for all its incompetence and unoriginality, I will give it credit for having an impromptu musical number in the third act, written and composed by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater of Lion King and Sausage Party fame. It’s a remarkable moment in an unremarkable film.
2 1/2 Stars
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