Holmes & Watson (2018)
Directed by: Etan Cohen | 90 minutes | adventure, comedy | Actors: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Rebecca Hall, Rob Brydon, Kelly Macdonald, Lauren Lapkus, Pam Ferris, Ralph Fiennes, Hector Bateman-Harden, Codie-Lei Eastick, Laura Stevely, Layla Rose Boyce
When a film “award season” comes out with a few awards behind its name, that creates expectations. Especially if it manages to convert multiple nominations into trophies. The same goes for ‘Holmes & Watson’. That film managed to cash in no less than 4 of 6 nominations. Unfortunately for the makers, that was the Razzies, the film awards for the worst the film industry has to offer. ‘Holmes & Watson’ won the prize for worst film and worst director. Lead actor Will Ferell was also in the race for worst actor, but that prize went to Donald Trump. That a film is so poorly rated also colors expectations. But the question then remains: is ‘Holmes & Watson’ really such a bad movie? The answer is yes.
‘Holmes & Watson’ is (an attempt at) a comic take on the well-known story of Sherlock Holmes and his loyal companion John Watson. In this variant too, Professor Moriarty is Holmes’s great tormentor and the search for this mastermind puts the friendship between Holmes and Watson to the test. So far nothing wrong, right? Also not. The logic of how the story unfolds is lacking. Even in a lame comedy, that logic is important to keep the viewer on their toes. But this story is shooting in all directions and seems more like an excuse for lame jokes than the place where those lame jokes can play their part. And the level of those jokes is also abysmal. The scene in which the gentlemen think they have killed the queen is the absolute low point. Besides the fact that the jokes there weren’t funny, they were also very predictable. And a good joke surprised. The above observation smacks of a spoiler, but an incoherent script and predictable jokes won’t ruin the film for anyone here.
And finally the acting performances; they aren’t too good either. Both gentlemen act so over the top that it doesn’t really make sense anymore. Of course Will Ferrell is not exactly known for his subtle roles but in ‘Holmes & Watson’ it is really too exaggerated. He makes Sherlock a parody of a parody. It seems as if the most absurd take of a scene has been consistently chosen.
So is everything bad about ‘Holmes & Watson’? Not that either. There are a few striking jokes in it that, precisely by placing it in historical perspective, gain more weight with regard to today’s society. Thus, two phenomena of narcissism are aptly criticized; the selfie and Donald Trump. But even a few successful jokes can’t tip the balance in the right direction. It can (unfortunately) be concluded that most of the prizes won by ‘Holmes & Watson’ are justifiable.