[Screen It]


(2018) (Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly) (PG-13)

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Comedy: A detective and his longtime companion find their partnership threatened by what they uncover after a dead body is found in the detective's birthday cake.
It's 1912 and Sherlock Holmes (WILL FERRELL) is London's most renowned detective with an impeccable record of solving cases with his assistant, Dr. John Watson (JOHN C. REILLY), while Mrs. Martha Hudson (KELLY MacDONALD) takes care of matters at home as Sherlock's housekeeper.

Their longtime nemesis has been Professor James Moriarty (RALPH FIENNES) who Inspector Lestrade (ROB BRYDON) currently has under arrest for murder, but with no witnesses currently alive, it looks like the villain will go free. That is, unless Sherlock proves otherwise.

What he does instead, however, is prove that the man currently in custody is a lookalike and that the real criminal is on the loose. Things become more complicated when a dead body falls out of Sherlock's immense birthday cake with a note that says the Queen (PAM FERRIS) will be killed in just a few days.

Accordingly, she tasks Sherlock with solving the case and singling out the killer, which ultimately has them meeting American physician Grace Hart (REBECCA HALL) and her mostly mute assistant who was raised by feral cats, Millicent (LAUREN LAPKUS).

Sherlock starts falling for her while Watson does the same with Grace, but as the detective continues working the case, he comes to the startling conclusion that his longtime assistant could possibly be the perp he's after.

OUR TAKE: 0 out of 10
Sometimes as critics, you occasionally get the feeling that -- due to being beaten down by so many mediocre to downright bad movies -- that you might be out of touch with the regular moviegoer and thus react and then grade new offerings in a far harsher way that those everyday viewers.

Of course, the litmus test for that is watching and listening to how such folks react to a movie that you're also seeing. If they're genuinely scared and you're not, well that might just tell you something. And if they're laughing hysterically at the latest comedy and you're sitting all stone-faced, arms crossed and checking your watch repeatedly, well, your funny bone might have been removed.

But...but...if they're bored at a horror film or are sitting in silence in such a comedy, then you know you might not be so far removed after all. That was my experience in watching "Holmes and Watson," a film so bad that the studio reportedly couldn't even sell it to Netflix and thus opened it without any press screenings.

Opening on Christmas Day (what a gift!), I figured I'd be alone in the theater watching it at the first screening. No, some hardy souls (or fools) joined me, easily in the three dozen or so headcount. And not one of them laughed through the entirety of the nearly 90-minute film. But I did hear a few respond with "Huh?" and "What?" when Will Ferrell's character drops the line in one scene, "I have the penis of a baby doll."

Yes, I get that such lines and everything else penned by writer/director Etan Cohen are purposefully designed to be stupid. But one assumes it's also supposed to be funny, something that line of dialogue and everything that precedes and follows it isn't. Not even remotely.

In short, Ferrell plays Sherlock Holmes and John C. Reilly plays his sidekick, Dr. Watson and when a dead body shows up in the immense cake the latter provides for the former -- not to mention a note saying the Queen (Pam Ferris) will die in a few days -- the legendary consulting detective sets out to prove that it's the work of their longtime nemesis, Professor James Moriarty (Ralph Fiennes).

All sorts of hilarity is supposed to ensue and stem from the various gags, slapstick material, odd and awkward inclusions of present-day politics into the period piece, and spoofs of the visualized in advance plans of action (from the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock films) but all of that and everything else falls flat, feels forced, and essentially makes you want to spread no good will toward anyone involved in it. In fact, even the great Sherlock Holmes would have a hard time solving the mystery of why anyone thought any of this was humorous and thus, why any of them would sign on to appear in it.

Bad from start to finish, "Holmes & Watson," proves that critics and moviegoers can agree that bad is, well, simply bad. It rates as a 0 out of 10.

Reviewed December 25, 2018 / Posted December 25, 2018

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