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With: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Ralph Fiennes, Lauren Lapkus, Rebecca Hall, Kelly Macdonald, Hugh Laurie, Pam Ferris, Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon
Written by: Etan Cohen
Directed by: Etan Cohen
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude sexual material, some violence, language and drug references
Running Time: 89
Date: 12/25/2018

Holmes & Watson (2018)

1 Star (out of 4)

Soiling Doyle

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A shockingly misguided assault of repetitive bad slapstick and sexual innuendo, this comedy would be an almost complete disaster, if not for the two leads' chemistry and the appealing period design.

In Holmes & Watson, Sherlock Holmes learns at a young age to keep his feelings deep inside and focus on his education. As an adult, Holmes (Will Ferrell) and his only friend John Watson (John C. Reilly) attend a trial of Holmes' old nemesis Professor Moriarty (Ralph Fiennes) and determines that Moriarty is an impostor, while the real one has disappeared.

Later, Holmes is invited to a birthday party given him by the queen. There, a corpse is found in a cake, and a note informs them that the queen's life is in danger. A new case is afoot! While an American doctor (Rebecca Hall) and her case study (Lauren Lapkus) enter the picture, the two friends become befuddled by feelings for the women, and the clues they find simply don't add up. Holmes visits his brother Mycroft (Hugh Laurie) for advice, and finally determines that the killer is someone close to him...

Holmes & Watson seemed like a good idea, teaming Ferrell and Reilly, who worked so well together in Talladega Nights, Step Brothers, and several "Funny or Die" videos, but a few things went fatally wrong. Primarily, the movie has misunderstood the way that Farrell's humor works best when he plays childish/childlike characters, and that the intelligent, unemotional Holmes is precisely the opposite.

Then, writer/director Etan Cohen (Get Hard) has replaced the wonderfully weird, verbal, behavioral humor that Ferrell and Reilly specialize in, with the most basic, broadest slapstick imaginable, like something that might be featured in a Farrelly Brothers comedy. Jokes about bashing characters in the face or poisoning them, or eating onions, fall flat and then they are unwisely repeated, as if poking and prodding us into laughing.

Likewise, even verbal jokes seem to be trying a little too hard. However, a few small giggles pop up every once in a long while, and a surprisingly fun musical number that surfaces at the eleventh hour at least ends the movie with a small measure of goodwill that is otherwise missing.

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