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Holmes & Watson deduced to be murderer of good comedy

The silly comedy duo of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly portray the famous Victorian detective and sidekick in this parody gone wrong.

By Ewan Marmo-Bissell, Second Year, History

The silly comedy duo of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly portray the famous Victorian detective and sidekick in this parody gone wrong.

Holmes & Watson is a school play with a $42million budget about how, when Queen Victoria’s life is threatened, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly become insufferable 14 year old versions of themselves to take drugs, sleep with women, and, occasionally, crack jokes - all as legendary literary detective duo, Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson. In an incredibly all-star cast, Ferrell and Reilly are indulged by Ralph Fiennes, Kelly Macdonald, Steve Coogan, Hugh Laurie, Rob Brydon, and a genius cameo late on from Billy Zane, of Titanic (1997) fame, which serves as easily the best part of a movie with an otherwise wasted cast.

Youtube / Sony Pictures Entertainment

Written and directed by Etan Cohen - not Ethan Coen, one half of the brilliant Coen Brothers - Holmes & Watson has no identity. The characters are run-of-the-mill and presented in tedious fashion. The jokes are forcibly placed in the script and feel unnatural. There is one sequence where suddenly Holmes and Watson are presented with two women - I don’t remember why they’re part of the story - but they fall in love, and it seems their only purpose as characters is for the jokes about how badly women were treated in the Victorian era.

The movie is littered with these cheap meta jokes – it only takes eight minutes for the first Donald Trump joke. Meanwhile, it doesn’t really look like a period piece. It’s got the costumes and the kids with shit on their face tawkin’ ina cockney accent for ya guvna but, for some reason, it always zeroes in on Ferrell and Reilly looking and acting so plainly out of place. Holmes & Watson could have been funny, but the filmmakers run out of ideas quickly.

The thing about this movie, though, is that it’s not criminal. It’s inoffensive, and though I didn’t really laugh, at least it’s funnier than it is cringeworthy. One thing it definitely is though is boring. At less than 90 minutes, it’s absurd that it feels so thin and stretched out. Was there really so little substance that this was all they could cobble together post-editing? The film is slow and once it shows the first sign of picking up, it just deflates again. You’re simply left with these two guys making jokes about selfies and cocaine for another six minutes until something happens again.

The cherry on top is the woefully misjudged musical number which goes on for far, far too long, and really tested my patience towards the end of a movie that already felt too long. It comes off as annoying, and each pop culture reference and seemingly improvised bit of apparent comic genius annoys even more.

However, I repeat it is not a criminal or offensive film in the slightest. It’s boring, lifeless, and annoying, but at least it’s not actively upsetting. Holmes & Watson will be forgotten in the canon of Ferrell/Reilly movies, and is doomed to duel with Sherlock Gnomes (2018) for the prize, or rather wooden spoon, of being the worst Sherlock adaptation of 2018.

Featured Image: IMDb / Holmes & Watson / Sony Pictures Entertainment

Did you prefer Holmes & Watson or Sherlock Gnomes?

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