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Review: Holmes & Watson (2018)

Holmes & Watson (2018)

Directed by: Etan Cohen

Premise: A spoof of Sherlock Holmes stories. The famous detective (Will Ferrell) and his associate Dr. Watson (John C. Reilly) investigate a plot to murder the Queen of England.

What Works: The one aspect of Holmes & Watson that’s at all amusing is the film’s parody of the elaborate fight scenes in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. Those scenes were ridiculous and are ripe for parody.

What Doesn’t: About a decade ago, cinemas were plagued by parody films, many of them co-directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer such as Epic Movie and Date Movie. That fad mostly burned itself out by 2010 and Friedberg and Seltzer’s recent efforts debut directly on home video. 2018’s Holmes & Watson is a parody in the same vein as those churned out a decade ago and just like those films it’s a disaster. This movie isn’t funny at all. There are no jokes in it. Jokes have a set-up and a payoff; the humor of Holmes & Watson consists almost entirely of sight gags. The defining characteristic of Friedberg and Seltzer’s parody films was pop culture references. That’s exactly the approach here and Holmes & Watson features characters taking a selfie with an early twentieth century camera and a spin class with primitive bicycles. When the movie’s not doing that, it mostly consists of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly mugging for the camera. Those two have been a successful comic duo in Step Brothers and Talladega Nights but Ferrell and Reilly are genuinely terrible in Holmes & Watson. They have none of the charm of their previous collaborations and many of their scenes are shrill and obnoxious. For that matter, everyone else in Holmes & Watson is terrible as well. The supporting cast includes Rebecca Hall, Lauren Lapkus, and Ralph Fiennes, all of whom are proven actors but the film does absolutely nothing with them. The supporting players literally do nothing except stand around and watch Ferrell and Reilly do their shtick. The failure of Holmes & Watson is a missed opportunity. In the past few years there have been several Sherlock Holmes movies and TV shows and this project was poised to send up all of that. Done right, this could have been comedy gold. But it doesn’t seem as though the filmmakers bothered to think through the possibilities of a Sherlock Holmes parody. Everything in this movie is slapdash and lazy.

Bottom Line: Holmes & Watson is a disaster. This movie isn’t funny at all and it alternates between being mildly irritating and numbingly boring.

Episode: #733 (January 13, 2019)