The movie so bad that not even Netflix wanted it, “Holmes & Watson” looks like one of those movies where the only reason why its stars signed on was because studio promised a potential blockbuster. What we get instead is two very talented men reduced to delivering one of the most atrocious movies of 2018 that contributes to the death of the comedy genre in film. “Holmes & Watson” is laughless, pointless and actually poorly reflects the capability of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly both of whom can turn in comedy gold with the right material.
A spoof of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle character, we meet Sherlock Holmes and Watson, the evil Moriarty is about to get off on accusations of assassinating witnesses to his last crime. When Moriarty threatens to murder the queen in four days, Sherlock and Watson rush to her side to protect her. But as they work to uncover who is assassinating all of Moriarty’s witnesses, they discover a bigger web of thieves and criminals working with the infamous mastermind. “Holmes & Watson” feels like Ferrell and Reilly just opted to appear for the sake of luring in the audience that loved them in their previous cinematic pairings.
That’s proven false the moment “Holmes & Watson” reveals itself to be nothing but a string of flat jokes and physical comedy that never feels remotely clever. Whatever isn’t some kind of lame pun, is just dated comedy that probably (repeat: probably) would have been funnier ten years ago. There’s a selfie joke, a joke about IHOP, an all too easy jab at President Trump and, yes, there’s even a long gag referencing the 1991 romance “Ghost” involving a corpse. When those jokes land with a thud, there’s a ton of pointless gags that amount to literally nothing, including Holmes calculating every situation with mathematics. A running joke involving Holmes’ ability to fluidly communicate with his mind also goes nowhere and feels so much like empty filler and a tame obstacle underdog Watson has to endure.
The movie almost draws a laugh (the fake arm joke could have been hysterical), but then backs off to give even more screen time to Ferrell and Reilly. Even worse, the film stacks the film with incredible comedic talent, all of whom are absolutely wasted to the point where it’s embarrassing. There’s Hugh Laurie, Steve Coogan, and Rob Brydon, all brilliant comedic actors that Etan Coen doesn’t seem to have any idea how to properly implement. All things considered there is a strong cast, including Ralph Fiennes, and Rebecca Hall, but they get no chance to shine in what is an astoundingly awful film. I’m grateful movie goers didn’t take the bait and gave producers an excuse to make “Holmes & Watson 2.”