Holmes & Watson

'Step Brothers' dynamic duo Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are on the case in Etan Cohen’s 'Holmes & Watson'


Holmes & Watson – 0 stars

This third reteaming of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly is in theaters now, but it opened on Christmas Day, making it the worst film of both 2018 and 2019. Sure, there have been countless screen adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s estimable detective Sherlock Holmes and his devoted assistant, John Watson, plumbing mysteries from the dramatic to the comedic and back—but if Holmes & Watson was intended to be a comedy, it’s dramatically unfunny. But then, having sat through the film (many have not; the walk-out rate is reportedly high), I still can’t claim to know what kind of game was afoot. Is this a past-the-sell-by-date parody of Guy Ritchie’s 2009 and 2011 Holmes vehicles starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law? A sequence where Ferrell’s drunken Holmes precalculates the trajectory of his urine in slow-motion seems to indicate so. However, parodies are usually more precise than this: If a prologue demonstrates that Holmes was an unnaturally brilliant schoolboy, shouldn’t it follow that he’d grow into an even more brilliant adult? Writer/director Etan Cohen (Get Hard) doesn’t even bother to address this question, content that an idiot Holmes and a lactating Watson (don’t ask) will recreate the chemistry that Ferrell and Reilly displayed in Talladega Nights and Step Brothers. While those pictures were written and directed by Adam McKay, who’s gone on to make more adult fare like Vice, Cohen’s puerile interests remain at an, ahem, elementary level. (At Assembly Row, Boston Common, Fenway, Seaport, South Bay and in the suburbs.)

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