The strongest joke in “Holmes & Watson” – or, at least, the joke that received the biggest laugh in the theater I was in – was towards the end. The finale takes place on the Titanic.
During this sequence, Sherlock Holmes (Will Ferrell) & John Watson (John C. Reilly) run into actor Billy Zane. Get it? Because he was in the movie “Titanic?” Yeah, it’s that kind of movie.
The story, if you can even call it that… doesn’t matter. I’d mention the fact that Holmes & Watson are solving a murder mystery, but the movie doesn’t care. Will Ferrell has a tendency to make movies where the plot doesn’t matter.
They’re just set-up/joke, set-up/joke, set-up/joke, roll credits. These movies can work when the content is funny. When the content isn’t funny, however, you get “Holmes & Watson.”
A few of the bits brought a smile to my face though. When Holmes & Watson enter a gymnasium there’s a cycling class where all the students are riding penny-farthings. There’s also a cute idea where an intoxicated Watson sends his crush a drunk telegraph. This really sums up “Holmes & Watson.” On paper, there are some clever ideas here, but the execution is lacking in every imaginable way. There were at least a dozen times during the course of the film where they’d set up a joke, I’d think of a funny punchline and then they’d do something a lot lamer.
For awhile the film is tolerable. It moves at a brisk enough pace that you’re not cringing too hard when the jokes fall flat. However, towards the beginning of the third act – around the time Ferrell and Reilly burst into a horrible song and you realize that the movie simply doesn’t give a shit – the film crosses a line from tolerable to bad.
That’s particularly surprising considering the level of talent involved in the film. In addition to Ferrell and Reilly the film features Ralph Fiennes, Rebecca Hall, Kelly Macdonald, Hugh Laurie and Steve Coogan. That’s too good of a cast for a film this mediocre.
I didn’t hate “Holmes & Watson.” It was more boring and forgettable than bad. If I watched it on Netflix on a boring night when I wanted something mindless, I’d fit the bill perfectly. It’s not worth going to the theater to see.
It’s not worth paying for in anyway. I went in with low expectations and they were met. On the other hand, the audience I saw it with gave it a raucous ovation when the credits rolled, so maybe I’m missing something. Personally, I think they wanted to like it more than they actually did.