It’s somewhat embarrassing to think I was excited for this movie upon its initial announcement. But that was long ago, a time when Sacha Baron Cohen was attached to the project, rather than the Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly duo I’ve come to loathe. Usually comedy is rather subjective and difficult to review, but there are rare instances like the truly horrific Holmes and Watson where critics and audiences alike can come together to slate a film completely.
Holmes and Watson is rightfully being regarded as one of the worst comedies to release. Filled to the brim with fart jokes, penis gags and everything else you’d expect from a comedy movie catered to a 12-rated audience. Ferrell doesn’t seem to have outgrown his immaturities in Step Brothers, and that mediocre storm is transferring very poorly to the modern age of laughs. His leading role as Sherlock Holmes is the signs of a waning career, a man broken to the point of putting on a poor British accent and calling it comedy. Ferrell isn’t the only offender here, with Reilly’s equally as annoying performance coming in a close second to Ferrell’s truly disgusting performance.
For a comedy, it’s light on the laughs. Aside from a few sighs of relief when a joke didn’t fall down the hole of cliché (and one unexplainable bit where Holmes and Watson try and chop up an unconscious Queen Victoria) there isn’t a single chuckle to be had. The few laughs you may inspire are out of sheer embarrassment, and a bit of sorrow for the poor souls that signed onto this film. Seeing the likes of Rob Brydon, Steve Coogan and other assorted British comedians that know how to make a good comedy is just upsetting. Don’t get me started on Ralph Fienne’s inclusion, which reminds me that even the best of actors will take any job they can get if the pay check is right.
But what did we expect from the director of Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties? Etan Cohen’s direction is plausibly the best part of the movie, in the sense that it follows the formulaic approach of every other comedy movie from a decade ago. So out of synch with the modernity of the comedy genre, his direction and overall abilities as a director would’ve seen this movie a box office hit if the year was 2003. A time when Cheaper by the Dozen was raking in nearly $200 million is never a good time period to be associated with, but the depressing nature of Holmes and Watson places it right there.
Such a poor attempt is made at almost everything. A vacuum for any hint of uniqueness or inkling of talent, sucked away and replaced with cheap jokes that are already outdated. The script being in development for so long makes some of the jokes feel like a timestamp for when it was written, whatever pop culture phrase was popular at the time is shoehorned in with little to no reason. Films like Holmes and Watson should never be watched, nor should they ever be thought of.