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Holmes & Watson is yet another demerit on Will Ferrell’s plummeting filmography, while Reilly tags along for the ride with unfortunate results. The duo’s third feature together (ignoring Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie) is an absolute misfire on all cylinders. This film is false advertisement, as it never portrays the true Sherlock Holmes or John Watson, and instead gives us two goofballs who share absolutely nothing with the iconic detectives. From the first word spoken to the final word, it’s nearly impossible not to think about running out the door and finding something far more interesting than whatever the final result is for Holmes & Watson.
If you go into this film worried about how cringe worthy it will be, try to make it through the young Holmes scene of the film that provides the first impression of what’s in store. If you can stomach this scene, than this film may just be salvageable for you. However, I barely could and the direction gets much, much worse as the story progresses, revealing the two adult versions as idiotic manchildren. Many scenes focus on several characters within a room, and there is not a ton of action set pieces, which is actually a treat because the few that the film does possess are embarrassing to watch, to say the very least. Director Etan Cohen is a talented writer when he wants to be, but as a director he’s had two high profile misses with Get Hard and now this. Maybe it’s best he stay away from the director’s chair and focus more on the quality of the writing, because that sure needed a lot of assistance.
The story follows Holmes & Watson as they try to capture Moriarty before he can kill the Queen of England, and by doing so run into tons of hijinks. Holmes & Watson appears to be effortless (in the bad sense), taking a comedy containing two characters that live in the 19th century and cluttering them with pop culture references that come off as tired and unsettling. The bigger fault however is that the title characters don’t even need to be Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, as the undesirable plot could have been utilized by any unknown character. In fact, the script may have been written as suck and then was changed to possibly gain traction with the current phenomenon which is/was the life of Sherlock Holmes. The plot is dull and compiled with hordes of references, along with “parody” moments that never work with the direction, the acting, or especially the writing. The twists and turns are semi-obvious, with the film attempting to act as though it has outsmarted the audience at every turn while littering our brain with “booty call” telegraphs or “IHOP” jokes. It’s not only one of the most embarrassing scripts I’ve ever had to suffer through in a mainstream film, but it’s truly astounding as how this film got this far - even with an established writer on its side.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
One of the biggest issues with the film is that it makes Sherlock Holmes an imbecile just for the sake of comedic effect. Holmes has always been funny in every on screen iteration of the detective because of his quick, arrogant, and uncivilIzed approach at all things. Holmes & Watson spoils that by casting Ferrell and Reilly in the title roles, seemingly making lines up out of thin air that make almost no sense for the ongoing plot. Their senses of humor don’t work with these characters, and it never would have no matter who the writer involved was. What makes matters worse are the few excellent actors forced into the background only to be absolutely wasted when they get the spotlight. Ralph Fiennes as Moriarty and Hugh Laurie as Mycroft are the best examples of phenomenal actors given nothing to work with. It doesn’t stop there however, as even more side characters are not only useless to the plot but are placed into the story for forced comedy that feels completely out of place - this is primarily aimed at Lauren Lapkus who plays Sherlock’s love interest; a woman who was supposedly raised by feral cats. This gimmick goes on for far too long, and the outcome of her character is just as wasteful to the plot. Plenty of other names are wasted but there’s no need to mention them all as absolutely no one comes out ahead by being in Holmes & Watson.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Two seperate composers, Christophe Beck & Mark Motherbaugh, worked on the score for Holmes & Watson, and while it’s not messy, it’s just forgettable. Easily the worst score in a Sherlock Holmes film or television series, as it’s impossible to recall the soundtrack as soon as the film concludes. Many sound effects sound incredibly cheap, as if copy and pasted from the web, again showcasing zero effort. This comes up most with bees, explosions, and puking - all of which feel added in and fail to flow with the attached action. What could have been the redeeming factor of a uncomfortable comedic effort became just another reason to loathe the film entirely.
Within Holmes & Watson, there are many effects mainly for background imagery, and they are both ridiculous looking, along with lazy. Blurred back visuals and a lack of effort placed within the design of the sets leaves much, much more to be desired. The makeup and costume design doesn’t resemble the likes of the iconic Holmes and Watson, which is a large part of the personality of the lead detective, even though the film does take liberties with several outfit jokes. Just like everything else, the design in every regard is tiring on the eyes, especially when covered with an eye sore tint over the feature the entire runtime.
Holmes & Watson is the worst wide release film of 2018, and it’s a shame that I couldn’t get around to seeing it until this point to declare it as such. A desperate attempt at comedy that flops in every regard to the source material or other media including the duo - it’s disrespectful towards the fans of Ferrell and C. Reilly, but much more so towards Arthur Conan Doyle. Exhausting, desperate, and entirely unnecessary, Holmes & Watson is another sign of Ferrell’s disintegrating career, while just a mere misstep for the ever explorative John C. Reilly.