Holmes & Watson
Not nearly as bad as advertised, Holmes & Watson nonetheless just misses warranting recommendation.
Able to recapture some of their Step Brothers and Talladega Nights chemistry, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly respectively play goofy versions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective and his doctor/writer partner that never quite capitalize on the elite comedic potential of that twist.
Propelled by a threat from Prof. Moriarty (Ralph Fiennes) to assassinate the Queen of England, the duo bumble around London with oversized English accents, landing the occasional joke amidst a sea of groans.
Like much of the film’s comedic approach, attempts at anachronistic topicality — including the period equivalency of drunk texting and jabs at the U.S. presidency — earn initial chuckles, but quickly grow tired as they’re drawn out far beyond their expiration dates.
The extended vamping suggests a thin outline of a script by director Etan Cohen (Get Hard), off which the cast was encouraged/forced to improvise, yet clearly written sections like a bizarrely flat musical number fare just as rough.
Though Fiennes and fellow quality actors Rebecca Hall and Rob Brydon are reduced to laugh-free supporting players, Kelly Macdonald makes a mark in each scene as the protagonists’ landlady, and Steve Coogan and Hugh Laurie shine in silly cameos that fail to encourage similar consistency from the leading men.
Slow-mo representations of Holmes’ nimble thinking and montages of wacky newspaper headlines help stylistically spice up the proceedings, but consistent with the rest of the film, they’re little more than two more disparate parts unable to be united by the talent at hand.
Grade: C. Rated PG-13. Now playing at Biltmore Grande and Carolina Cinemark
(Photo: Columbia Pictures)