Directed By Etan Cohen
Starring – Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Ralph Fiennes
The Plot – Legendary detective Sherlock Holmes (Ferrell) and his partner Doctor Watson (Reilly) return for a comedic take on their classic literary partnership, as they use their incredible deductive minds to solve a mystery involving the Queen.
Rated PG-13 for crude sexual material, some violence, adult language and drug references
– On-location filming and detailed set design. One of the few fortunate aspects of this film is in the beautifully rugged England scenery, which gives the film an authentic channeling of its late 19th century setting accordingly. The interiors are laced and loaded with a barrage of English colonial furniture and Gothic wall decor, to add a lot of style to the bumbling substance that fills the air like a clogged toilet. Thankfully, the historical accuracies providing a lot of depth and legacy to the interiors at least gave me something to look at.
– A big name presence behind every corner. While there’s nothing to rave at in terms of performances, the work of everyone on-screen constantly emits a level of professionalism that is far too good for this movie. Actresses like Kelly Macdonald and Rebecca Hall supply endless energy and tasteful pulp to their respective characters, treating this like a stage show of “Macbeth”, instead of the illegitimate step cousin of “Taladega Nights”. My favorite however is definitely that of Fiennes, whose air of sophistication and mental prowess outline an antagonist to the movie that I wish we spent more time with. In the end, anyone who acted in this film should get a free coupon to be cast in an Oscar bait contender, squarely out of pity, but the dedication to the craft is never stilted for a single second, outlining a glow of respect for these film veterans who go above and beyond the smell of duty.
– One flimsy idea. “Holmes and Watson” is based off of a Saturday Night Live skit, in which Ferrell dons the raincoat and three piece suit to garner a bunch of laughs in a four minute allowance. The problem comes when you try to stretch out the ideas within a four minute skit and turn them into an 86 minute feature length film, complete with new comic material and a narrative that should’ve easily been solved in five minutes. Television laughs don’t translate well to the silver screen, and it makes for a very subdued, straight-faced comedy that feels too dull to ever be intriguing. Because of such, the entertainment factor for the duo characters suffer tremendously, adding nothing of value or even originality to the tale that could’ve taken this ages old story in an intriguingly fresh direction.
– Poor audio mixing. Not that I expect flawless execution when it comes to a spoof film, but the amateur work of some horrendous sound mixing and possibly the worst A.D.R of 2018 is something that would be bad for a Sears infomercial at three-o-clock in the morning. There are times when mouths move, but words aren’t heard, there are times of vice versa when the words are heard with no mouth movements, and then there are times when words are shaped and manipulated so that they cater to the PG-13 tagging. This film was butchered in post production, and it shows behind scenes of tweeked dialogue that may have been the only laugh that I got during the entirety of the film.
– Weak material. If you don’t feel confident in the laugh you’re trying to pull from your audience, yell repeatedly. That’s the thought process behind Ferrell and Reilly, whose comic delivery rival that of a mortician, and made for an experience so mind-numbingly annoying that it made “Step Brothers” material look like “The Godfather” by comparison. In addition to this, the material doesn’t have enough cleverness to stay in its designated time frame, so it moves on to modern day gags that make absolutely zero sense, and feel forced for their redundancy. In particular it’s the inclusion of “Unchained Melody” to mimic the scene from “Ghost”, a 1990 drama that revels in the freshness of its passing decades, and the work of (Count em’) FOUR Trump Jokes that were so desperate to cater to audiences that they had a Trump hater like me saying enough is enough when I saw an obvious one coming. Are you starting to see the SNL ideas coming into play? To wrap it all up, yes they actually went there: A “No Shit Sherlock” joke of course is included, leaving the last bit of shame evaporating from my body just in time for the holidays.
– And then there’s…… If the work from above isn’t enough to tickle your funny bone, take comfort in knowing that each of them drag on and are repeated endlessly throughout the film. If you cut off Ferrell or Reilly after their first delivery for a respective joke, this film would barely clock in at an hour. Instead, with the lack of depth in script or even pacing for audiences still with a percentage of battery left on their phones, Cohen would rather replay each delivery, in case you may have missed it the first, second, or fourteenth time. Believe me, the law of averages diminish every time you have to go through something you may have laughed at only minutes before.
– Female abuse that is played off for a laugh. I left this one separate because it really does deserve a section of its own to scoff at any director’s idea in 2018 that female abuse is an admirable trait of any big screen protagonist. If this happened once, I could forgive Holmes and Watson, but in physically assaulting multiple females in the film, the movie creates an air of acceptability that proved where this movie and screenwriter’s moral compass were at. If there’s even a glimmer of consequence to what these two idiots are doing, then fine, but it’s all brushed off like a pat on the back, and if I’m the only person who sees anything wrong with it, it proves to me how many moviegoers have already been dumbed down by bodily humor stick that should’ve died in the Post-silver screen, Pre-Netflix era of Adam Sandler flicks.
– Lack of believability. Even for a spoof, Ferrell and Reilly’s portrayal of the title characters lack a single bit of familiarity to make them easily immerse themselves into the roles. Both are braindead idiots, whom I would have difficulty believing that they could tie their shoes, let alone solve a crime. Every other character surrounding them is at least a football field ahead of them in terms of intelligence, and if it had not been for supporting cast practically beating the answer over the heads of these buffoons, then this film would never end (An idea I don’t even want to think or joke about).
– Telegraphed twist. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that even the mystery of this film is a big letdown, ushering in a switcheroo during the third act that has prepared us for this throughout the film, thanks to Cohen’s script spoiling things almost an hour in advance. To put it lightly, I sniffed out the twist of this movie at around the twenty minute mark, and that was with mild interest toward the movie. It’s about as subtle as a colonic volcano, and even more incredible is that the twist totally breaks established history with Mortiary, in that we know from past stories he doesn’t have a daughter. But once the movie so bluntly establishes this point of reference during the first act of the movie, you see it coming from a mile away, which wouldn’t be so bad if you were having a good time in the first place.
– Rating limitations. Courtroom masturbation, heroin, cocaine. These are a few of the mentions in the movie, but are unlikely to receive further elaboration because of a PG-13 rating that does the material, nor its leading males any favors in highlighting forbidden material. Any movie can talk about anything endlessly, but there comes a time when showing it would elicit more of a general reaction from surrounding audiences, but sadly the film just can’t capitalize on such a thing. For my money, even mentioning something that you can’t further in material or shock factor is completely pointless, and only serves as a reminder of why some films lack that compelling edge that leaves them otherwise searching for an identity of their own.
My Grade: 2/10 or F-