HOLMES & WATSON ½
PG-13, 83 mins.
2018, PG-13, 83 mins.
Will Ferrell as Sherlock Holmes / John C. Reilly as Dr. John Watson / Rebecca Hall as Dr. Grace Hart / Ralph Fiennes as Prof. James Moriarty / Hugh Laurie as Mycroft Holmes / Kelly MacDonald as Mrs. Hudson / Rob Brydon as Inspector Lestrade / Lauren Lapkus as Millie / Lilly Aspell as Urchin / Noah Jupe as Doxy
Written and directed by Etan Cohen
On a superficial level, HOLMES & WATSON is a movie.
No, seriously...it is.
It contains a
feature length running time, it has a massive studio and fairly sizeable
budget behind it, it stars two bankable and proven comedic actors, and it
aggressively marketed to the eager moviegoing masses.
But HOLMES & WATSON is barely a movie. It most assuredly isn't a comedy either, seeing as it contains virtually no laughs. And it's not - despite a very specific title - a new Sherlock Holmes mystery worth investing in.
No, HOLMES &
WATSON is more like a not ready for prime time SNL skit with a would-be
hilarious premise (get two well known and established funnymen and have
them lampoon the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created universe) that, despite its
mercifully brief running time, feels like it goes on and on...and on...sucking the literally life right out of you in the process.
On paper, HOLMES & WATSON should have been a comedic home run -
get the affably bumbling man-child chemistry of Will Ferrell and John C.
Reilly (so side splittingly funny together in films like TALLADEGA
NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY) to play the world's most famous
detective and doctor sidekick respectively - but the resulting effort is a
shocking comedic dead zone that's utterly bereft of merriment and wit.
You know you're in serious trouble when the last Robert Downey Jr. SHERLOCK
HOLMES film contained more laughs than a Will Ferrell driven
iteration of the same character, and that former film wasn't intended as a
provides the barest of bare boned plots, which is essentially just a
lazily assembled closeline for the film's infantile attempts at genre
we learn in a quick prologue, young Sherlock Holmes was a bullied child
that learned to control his emotions (he develops the super human ability
to make tears retract back into his eye sockets, in one of the film's very
few mildly amusing sight gags).
But, as he matured into adulthood (played by Ferrell), he has
learned to not let his emotions get the better of him and has developed
his intelligence and keen detective reasoning into becoming a legendary
frequently solves crimes with his right hand man and BFF, Dr. John Watson
(Reilly), who's so naively supportive of Holmes than he comes off as a
Their lives change when they discover a dead body that's been baked
into a massive cake during Queen Victoria's birthday party.
Believing that their arch nemesis Moriarty (Ralph Fiennes...yes...that
one) is the perpetrator, Holmes and Watson spring into the offensive and
are aided by an American doctor, Hart (Rebecca Hall), which complicates
things seeing as the deeply sexist duo can't bring
themselves to believe that a woman could be a doctor.
Aside from the
aforementioned tear retraction gag, there were only a small number of moments in HOLMES & WATSON that made me chuckle, like a sequence
featuring Holmes mentally slowing down time to mathematically gage his
attackers precise moves, which he later uses to prevent himself from
peeing all over his pants after one night of heavy binge drinking.
There's also a somewhat silly running joke in the story that has
Watson lustfully pining after the Queen, despite her withered and aging
I also giggled a bit when Holmes and Watson enter a gym on the
search for clues, which has a spin class in the background featuring those
late 19th Century oversized bicycles.
That's kinda funny.
Alas, genuine and heartfelt laughs are in shockingly low supply
throughout HOLMES & WATSON, and witnessing Ferrell and Reilly struggle
with making this material work is borderline embarrassing throughout.
desperation of this film is sort of mid-blowing.
HOLMES & WATSON is arguably the only Sherlock Holmes film in
history to have scenes containing the following:
- A young Holmes accidentally kissing a donkey's anus.
- Holmes and
Watson violently trying to kill a mosquito with a cricket bat.
- Watson being
covered in horse poop.
- Holmes binge
eating a raw onion whole.
- A hyper
eroticized autopsy scene that spoofs an infamous sex scene in GHOST.
projectile vomiting multiple times at the very thought of said autopsy.
- A woman that
was raised by feral cats.
- A TITANIC
- A Billy Zane
cameo...playing his character from TITANIC.
Now, going back
to that fifth point above.
This is 2019.
GHOST came out in 1990.
That's nearly thirty years ago.
How intellectually bankrupt is your comedy when you're forced to
drum up a moment that's inspired by a scene from a three decade old film,
complete with the usage of "Unchained Melody"?
Equally eye rolling is Holmes' penchant for making modern day
proclamations, like "FAKE NEWS!" after he reads a newspaper, or a
later instance of him and Watson taking a selfie with one of those bulky cameras of the era?
Just what is director Etan Cohen (who was responsible for
co-writing the insanely hilarious TROPIC
THUNDER) wanting to do with this character and universe?
HOLMES & WATSON can't decide if it's trying to be an AIRPLANE-like spoof of the material or just a gross out gagged farce.
And the film can't decide what it's doing with the Holmes character
Is Ferrell's version of him really a man with a razor sharp focus
and cunning intelligence that is the world's greatest detective that also
happens to be a Ferrell-ian nincompoop that makes silly decisions or is he
just a complete blithering moron whose reputation as the world's greatest
detective is horribly misrepresented?
This film and Ferrell's performance doesn't have the slightest
I'm not sure if I
hated HOLMES & WATSON or rather just felt absolute pity for all
involved in front of and behind the camera.
Ferrell and Reilly can be magic together on screen (as previously
proven), but Ferrell has not been on a comedic role lately with
forgettable stinkers like THE HOUSE, DADDY'S
HOME 2, and GET HARD, which are
collectively making me think whether he's lost his past touch.
But then how do you explain - outside of big pay checks - the
inclusion of Oscar nominated and worthy talent like Ralph Fiennes and
Rebecca Hall, the latter who has never so shamefully slummed her way in a
film as much as she does with her throwaway character here.
As an added kick to the baby makers, the film even throws in Steve
Coogan and Rob Brydon in nothing roles that never generate any comic momentum,
and considering how side-splittingly hysterical they've been in their THE
TRIP trilogy, it's enough to make you want to throw something at the
screen in disgust while watching them be squandered here.
HOLMES & WATSON is an egregious failure on all conceivable conceptual levels. It comes off as something a sick minded prepubescent would write, but that descriptor would be an insult to many thoughtful and smart prepubescent writers out there. It's telling that the film's ultimate idea of knee slapping comedy is a donkey's rear end being smooched and a man being dosed with horse excrement.
feel like an ass for watching this horse shit.