This week I had the opportunity to see “Glass,” but instead I saw “Holmes and Watson.” In other words, I make bad decisions. “Holmes and Watson” has been out for around a month now and has recently been nominated for six Razzie awards. It has become public knowledge that this movie is horrible, and yet, I saw it. This was purely done out of curiosity, because since its first trailer dropped, I thought that the movie looked like complete crap. Turns out it was, but not quite as painful as expected. That should in no way imply that the movie was good, only that it wasn’t as bad as expected.
“Holmes and Watson” stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in two roles that can only be described as a career slump. It follows the titular characters as they attempt to solve a mystery that has something to do with Professor Moriarty (Ralph Fiennes). The characters become progressively more annoying as the movie goes on, and the theater became more and more empty as the movie continued. By the end of the movie, my two friends and I were the only people remaining in the theater. That alone was funnier than anything that happened in the movie.
“Holmes and Watson” wastes Ferrell’s and Reilly's genius comedic skills by having the two over-act and recite unfunny jokes. Ferrell in particular stands out as an embarrassing shell of his former glory (once again, it should be noted how amazingly funny Ferrell is. “Step Brothers” is possibly the funniest movie ever made). I don’t think it can be said that Ferrell is over-acting, because that would require him to be acting. His performance was repulsive, and it alone is what made the movie a catastrophe. He ends every sentence like he’s asking a question. He should have asked the audience why were they watching “Holmes and Watson” (to the makers of “Holmes and Watson,” that last sentence was almost a joke, which is more than anything that can be said for the “jokes” in the movie). Ferrell appeared to be aware that the movie he was making was going to be terrible, and he played into that. That had the potential to be funny, but instead it became irritating and stale.
Reilly doesn’t give a good performance, but he also doesn’t deliver a totally bad one either. He is at least trying, which is more than can be said for many of the other actors in the movie. That being said, his performance is moderately amusing. Of the few laughs that were in the movie, almost all of them come from him. That being said, it is clear that like Ferrell, he understands that this movie will bomb, and that can be seen in his performance.
Ralph Fiennes is in this movie, for some reason. Fiennes plays Professor Moriarty, and his performance shouldn’t be described as bad, it should be described as non-existent, meaning that he is barely in the movie. He’s completely wasted and probably only says about five words in the entire movie. He just awkwardly sits or stands in the three scenes that he’s in and appears bored. Fiennes can’t be blamed for this however, as the movie didn’t give him a lot to work with, and it's probably best that he was in so little of it so as to not tarnish his spectacular career.
So for the jokes in “Holmes and Watson,” some of them landed (more on that later), but most of them fell flat and elicited painful groans from the audience. In one joke, Holmes puts on a hat that says, “Make England Great Again.” The joke was so unfunny that no one in the theater laughed. In the split second that I realized that no one was going to laugh, I let out a loud fake laugh as a way of mocking the movie. That fake laugh garnered more laughter than any other part in the movie. When the comments and actions of the audience obtain more laughter than your “comedy,” you’ve failed as a filmmaker.
For all of “Holmes and Watson”’s misfires, there are a few aspects about it that stood out positively. Something that was indubitably fantastic was its costume and set design. Perhaps the reason this stood out so colorfully was due to the poor quality of the movie and my desire to find something positive about it. That being said, the set and costumes were intricate and clearly showed hard work, regardless of the quality of the film. If this were a better movie, it actually would have felt as though the movie were placed within the Victorian era and not on a back set of a bankrupt studio.
While the humor in “Holmes and Watson” rarely landed, it had moments that showed effort and promise. There were jokes that poked fun at the ignorant use of drugs as medicine during the Victorian era, and it was kind of funny. There were also a lot of self-aware moments that at least showed that the movie knew that it sucked. These moments had a tiny bit of "enjoyability" in them, but they were few and far between, and rarely did they elicit anything more than a chuckle.
The real question after seeing “Holmes and Watson” is why? Why was this movie made and why was it so bad? As I stated before, both Ferrell and Reilly are extremely funny, and perhaps this movie is the result of the lasting legacy of the films “Talladega Nights” and “Step Brothers” and a desire by audiences to see both these men reunite in a movie, yet this seemed like a misfire form the start. Maybe “Holmes and Watson” was an inside joke on the part of these two comedians as they sought to give the audiences a movie where they reunited, only for it to suck. Whatever it is, this movie was an expected disappointment. It didn’t look good from its trailer and, unsurprisingly, it was not good. It can be hoped that eventually Ferrell and Reilly will team up for another movie that reaches the cinematic and comedic quality of “Talladega Nights” and “Step Brothers.”