Cast: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Rebecca Hall, Ralph Fiennes
Director: Etan Coen
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: Legendary detective Sherlock Holmes and his partner Doctor Watson return for a comedic take on their classic literary partnership, as they use their incredible deductive minds to solve a mystery.
Oh how the mighty have fallen. About a decade ago, the team of Ferrell and Reilly made some of the most memorable comedies of the era with movies like Step Brothers and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby still being quoted by audiences to this very day. In Ferrell’s case, it looks like he has tried to hold onto the success of this era and has not tried to try any new comedy outside of this formula. The thing about Holmes & Watson is that this would not have been very funny back then, so it certainly does not make much of an impact now. Painfully unfunny, misguided, and uninspired, I think it is fitting that the last movie I saw in 2018 is probably one of the worst.
The film follows Sherlock Holmes (Ferrell) and Dr. John Watson (Reilly), the two greatest detectives in London. When their rival Professor Moriarty (Fiennes) threatens to kill Queen Victoria (Pam Ferris), it is up to this duo to figure out Moriarty’s plot and stop it before it is too late. I should have known that when the funniest joke of the film is a picture of text in the first frame of the film that I would be in for a rough ride, but this is not even close to what I was anticipating. Imagine if the characters from Ferrell’s other movies were tasked with preventing a murder from happening using their intelligence and you have Holmes & Watson nailed down perfectly. What this means is a bunch of recycled jokes and physical humor that we have seen countless times from these two over the past decade. On top of this, there is a sizable amount of jokes at Donald Trump’s expense, and I get it the man is a polarizing figure that is viewed very negatively in the movie industry, but no one sat down to watch this movie with the intention of getting a political lecture. If they had left only the first joke in there, I think it could have been funnier like how Game Night did so earlier this year, but Holmes & Watson lacks any sort of subtlety to push these jokes along. Outside of that, most of the film just feels super unnecessary and unneeded. Specifically, there was no reason for Holmes’s love interest Millie (Lauren Lapkus) to be included in this film as she offered nothing interesting and none of her jokes land in the slightest. Other than Lapkus’s character, at one point during the final act, Reilly and Ferrell randomly break out into simultaneous songs about the case up to this point. There is absolutely no reason for these songs to exist as they contribute absolutely nothing to the movie and are never actually funny. This is the perfect way to summarize the existence of Holmes & Watson, pointless and unfunny, and no audience deserves to suffer through a movie like this. If the only good thing to come out of this is that this movie bombed so badly that we may see a seismic change in how these types of comedies are made, produced, and distributed, then to some degree you could call this film a huge victory for the film industry.
Overall, the only thing I need from a movie like Holmes & Watson is to be entertained for 90 minutes and walk out feeling as though I got my money’s worth, and I have a hard time believing anyone will feel satisfied after watching this movie. With so many good comedies that came out this year, you have more than your fair share to pick from, so unless you are the world’s biggest Will Ferrell fan, there is no incentive to watch Holmes & Watson even if you have nothing else better to do.
Overall Score: 2/10