A trailer that failed to deliver on “highlight” sequences. Reportedly disastrous test screenings that resulted in walk-outs. An eleventh hour bid to off-sell to Netflix in wake of foreseeable box office floppage that was denied. And no pre-screenings for the media.
These are not the most promising signs for a film before it reaches the cineplexes, so it goes without saying that one must proceed with extreme caution (or not proceed at all) when preparing to witness the theatrical abomination that is Holmes & Watson.
Whilst the film’s leads, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, are no strangers to a dud or two on their resume, their combined bro-ship should’ve been enough to supply a sense of goodwill to the masses; 2006’s Talladega Nights and especially 2008’s Step Brothers are proof of their critical and commercial acceptance. And even though Ferrell’s last collaboration with director Etan Cohen, Get Hard (2015), was a critical failure, audiences turned out enough to push it past $100 million in takings so it’s certainly saying something about this sorry excuse of celluloid that movie-goers were apparently so done with it that on its opening day they demanded refunds.
One of those productions that baffles the mind as to how it managed to entice so much reliable talent (perhaps Ralph Fiennes, Rebecca Hall, Rob Brydon, Steve Coogan, and Hugh Laurie all lost a bet?) Holmes & Watson is the epitome of a rush-job. Drunkenly edited and poorly dubbed – at times it appears out of sync – it’s evident that Cohen thought last-minute insertions of Trump-based jokes would give the film that extra bit of sting (“Fake news” is no longer an amusing catchphrase), where instead it layers with desperation and predictability.
Essentially a spoof of the Guy Ritchie-directed Sherlock Holmes features (the last of which came out 7 years ago), Holmes & Watson already feels immensely outdated, and none of the usually amusing, albeit ridiculous, banter Ferrell and Reilly excel out is present. There are “jokes” and set-pieces that are both overly and literally explained, a recurring bit regarding Watson’s attraction towards the queen (Pam Ferris) plays with no pay-off, Kelly Macdonald’s turn as the duo’s nymphomaniacal housekeeper is mind-numbingly inexplicable, and the film’s mindset of assuming modern day tropes like taking selfies would be funny to envision in the 1900’s is wildly misguided.
A film that never should’ve been greenlit, Holmes & Watson is the type of big budget comedy that could be in danger of soiling the genre beyond repair. This is pointless, ridiculous, insulting material that shouldn’t even be viewed as a hate-watch. I have braved this bullet so you dear readers won’t have to, and I trust it wasn’t in vain.