April 8, 2019  (Web Review)

Holmes & Watson

Sony, 91 min., PG-13, DVD: $30.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $34.99, Apr. 9

Reviewer rating: 1.0/4

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, teaming up again (Step Brothers), try to extract laughs from this two-stooges parody of Arthur Conan Doyle’s signature creation. Despite colorful sets and costumes, the movie suffers from a witless script that rivals Dumb and Dumber for sheer stupidity. Directed by Etan Cohen, the story pits Holmes, played by Ferrell without any effort to affect a British accent, and Reilly’s only slightly more intelligent Watson against Professor Moriarty (Ralph Fiennes), who the pair assume to be behind a death threat against Queen Victoria (Pam Ferris). This leads to a succession of inane episodes, all coming across like failed Saturday Night Live sketches, although they do make room for anachronistic riffs on Donald Trump and some romance for both stars (Holmes with an American doctor and Watson with her patient). The desperation even descends to a duet for Ferrrell and Reilly that is intended, one supposes, as a takeoff on bad Broadway musicals. Of course, tastelessness is also on regular display, not least in an extended vomiting sequence and a succession of morbid jokes about the Titanic. Sony tried to sneak Holmes & Watson into theatres as a 2018 Christmas release without any pre-opening screenings, but the public recognized it as a cinematic lump of coal, and it turned out to be one of the year’s biggest bombs—justifiably so. Not recommended. (F. Swietek)