film & game reviews, the retro way.
John C. Reilly
Almost 10 years in the making due to being stuck in development hell, Holmes & Watson was finally released in 2018 to the sound of thousands of critics panning it and audiences steering clear.
Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly reunited in this oddly-timed Sherlock Holmes spoof, many years too late to be relevant as the Robert Downey Jr.-starring Guy Ritchie films have yet to resurface. In all fairness, on paper this still sounded like it could have been fun. Dumb, no doubt, but fun. Both leads have shown time and time again that they can make even the most paper-thin plots work thanks to brilliant comedic timing and clever improvisation (see Step Brothers or Talladega Nights) and the subject matter isn't without spoofing potential. Unfortunately, there is very little for both actors to work with here and the project feels like a tired, rushed, let's-just-get-this-over-with kind of deal.
What there is of a script is frankly awful and 99% of the jokes fall completely flat so that leaves the two leads' charisma alone to carry you through but even that wears thin by the halfway point. The many cameos are also a complete waste, sadly, with the likes of Steve Coogan and Hugh Laurie popping in and out long enough to regret showing up at all.
The film sees Sherlock Holmes (Ferrell), who is very smart and perceptive but also very dumb and not perceptive at all depending on the scene, take on a case when Queen Victoria is threatened with a corpse in a cake. Professor Moriarty (Ralph Fiennes) is suspected to be behind it all but Sherlock's "investigation" takes him down an increasingly odd rabbit hole. Along the way, Watson (C. Reilly) tries to officially become Holmes' co-detective and they meet Dr. Grace Hart (Rebecca Hall) whose best friend was raised by feral cats (?).
The jokes poking fun at Guy Ritchie's films work the best, despite being absurdly late, and there is an endearingly goofy musical number near the end but the slapstick humour is uncomfortably unfunny throughout and there are just nowhere near enough funny lines to make Holmes and Watson's endless rambling worthwhile. Even the most die-hard Sherlock and Will Ferrell fan won't have much fun with this one.
Holmes & Watson suffers from a tragically long and messy development, an unsalvageable script and very poor direction from Etan Cohen, who also delivered the equally infuriating Get Hard a few years back. This is one case you won't want to take on, I'm afraid.