Movie ReviewsHolmes and Watson – A Painfully Insulting Comedy

Keith NoakesDecember 26, 2018

This steaming pile of garbage should be avoided at all costs.

Synopsis: A humorous take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic mysteries featuring Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. (IMDB)

Starring: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and Rebecca Hall

Writer: Etan Cohen

Director: Etan Cohen

Rating: PG (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)

Running Time: 92mins


Throughout the history of film, there have been plenty of incarnations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famed detective Sherlock Holmes and his fateful sidekick, Dr. John Watson. Now whether we wanted it or not (we certainly do not), here’s another one. What supposedly sets this new film, entitled Holmes & Watson, apart was that it took these well-known characters and put them in what can only be described as an incredibly stupid and criminally unfunny (for reasons that will be revealed below) comedy and 90+ minutes of pure cinematic torture that is sure to leave a mark.

The story here, if it could even be called one, saw a comically over-the-top Sherlock Holmes (Ferrell) and Dr. John Watson (Reilly) work side by side to stop Professor James Moriarty’s (Ralph Fiennes) latest plot to murder Queen Victoria (Pam Ferris) all while working out their own personal and work issues. This Holmes was more of a jerk that craved the spotlight while Watson hung around and took the abuse. Holmes treated him as something less than equal but Watson wanted more from their relationship. Things got more complicated with the additions of a American doctor named Grace Hart (Hall) and her mentally-challenged test subject Millie (Lauren Lapkus) for whom Holmes and Watson would develop romantic feelings for. This was pretty much it.

The film, unsurprisingly, doesn’t even keep up with its own story, only meandering from there as the film tried to fill the rest of the time with some of the most unbearable comedy in recent memory. In fact, it doesn’t even know how to treat its own characters. This film’s version of Holmes and Watson were complete idiots who always seemed to get by, much to the disbelief of the other characters around them (while ripping off the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes films). It would have been much better served picking one side or the other since this only undermines itself. From there, both Holmes and Watson would find themselves in a series of horrible gag after horrible gag until the film’s big nonsensical finale. However, it did give birth to the only sort of funny thing in the entire film, a silly cameo that came out of nowhere (also because it didn’t make any sense).

Suffice it to say that the material here was utterly atrocious. The dialog was painful. The jokes were incredibly derivative and unfunny. The pacing was off. The point is that nothing worked here. Perhaps the most upsetting thing about this film was the fact that so many other great comedic actors (Rob Brydon, Steve Coogan, and Hugh Laurie just to name a few) agreed to do this film in the first place. Despite everything else, the tested comedic duo of Ferrell and Reilly could have made a difference but that was certainly not the case here as they were painful to watch. Ferrell and his questionable British accent as Holmes simply sleepwalks through the entire film, relying on the same unfunny shtick that he has used countless times before. Reilly and his equally questionable British accent as Watson admittedly tried a little harder than Ferrell, however, not even he could overcome the lesser material of the two.

Overall, this was an utterly terrible comedy from top to bottom that should be avoided at all costs. This unfunny mess is an insult to characters of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson and Christmas (why was this ever a Christmas release to begin with?). It never seemed interested in telling any semblance of a story, instead favoring utterly atrocious material that was simply physically painful to watch. While not an overly long film, it will feel much longer. Ultimately, if a film doesn’t care about us, why should we care about it?

Score: 1/10

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