Holmes & Watson (2018)

Holmes & Watson.pngDirector: Etan Cohen
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Starring: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Rebecca Hall, Ralph Fiennes, Rob Brydon, Kelly Macdonald, Steve Coogan, Lauren Lapkus, Pam Ferris, Hugh Laurie, Bella Ramsey, Scarlet Grace, Noah Jupe, Braun Strowman

Being one of the most popular properties to adapt, we shouldn't be surprised at the variety of takes we'd get on Sherlock Holmes. Hot off the heels of a Gnome-centric take on Arthur Conan Doyle's creation, we have an attempt to transpose the characters into a comedic vehicle ala Step Brothers. It feels more appropriate to label the end result as a tragedy, for anyone who willingly paid money to see this.

Professor Moriarty (Ralph Fiennes) is on trial, and it's up to Sherlock Holmes (Will Ferrell) to deliver the evidence which will send him down. But not is all as it seems, and it's up to Holmes and his partner, John Watson (John C. Reilly), to protect the Queen from a plot to end her life.

As London's premiere crime solving duo, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are certainly a left field choice, made in attempt to recapture what audiences loved from their prior starring features. Ferrell feels miscast in the lead, never able to decide on what take on the character he wishes to portray. He switches between an arrogant man of genius intellect, coming of as a poor mans version of Robert Downey Jr, and a bumbling moron that's lucky to not have tripped on his poorly tied shoelaces, and accidentally killed himself. There's no consistency to the character, and he's a chore to be in the company of. It's a miracle John C. Reilly's Dr Watson hasn't abandoned him yet, as he's only there to be belittled until the obvious character arc rears its head

The female stars are ultimately wasted on characters who are the butt of the jokes, if we can be kind enough to label these humour vacuums as jokes. Rebecca Hall is constantly sneered at for being a female doctor, a misogynistic point which is exhaustively hammered home, while the extent of Lauren Lapkus' ability is to act feral, because her characteristic was seemingly chosen at random from a dictionary. Kelly MacDonald's contributions largely consist of putting on an even thicker accent and sleep with a revolving door of famous figures, and Pam Ferris is the subject of Watson's affections, and largely brutalised because effort is hard for the screenwriter.

Ultimately, what Etan Cohen has delivered in the scriptwork and direction is frustrating, especially for how lazily it's all done. There are a number of lines which can work in theory, but their execution is less than desirable. One moment doesn't so much hint at the current Presidential situation, so much as spell it out in big neon letters, while someone shouts to those sitting in the back row "DID YOU GET IT?". Despite being only 90 minutes long, it feels dragged out, and this is largely down to the gags and jokes. Cohen doesn't so much run them into the ground, but run them past the Earths core, and pop out on the other side of the world. Gags which don't work as a small joke are stretched out for much longer than necessary, resembling being in an unwanted conversation with some irritating classmate, but you can't find an opening to politely end things.

To be fair, Mark Mothersbaugh's score does a decent enough job to set the scene. This is more than can be said for the original song composed by the legendary Alan Menken, whose Disney successes aren't replicated for such an uninspired and forgettable number. It's a shame this is the closest to a compliment that can be attempted, but when the end result is as lacklustre as this, what more can be said?

The game may be afoot in Holmes & Watson, but the film is a-fucking terrible. To find effort within such a lazy and frustrating feature would take a detective of Sherlock Holmes' calibre, without the incompetent buffoonery of Will Ferrell's version.

0.5 stars photo 0.5stars.jpg