Impartial Reviews: Holmes & Watson

Impartial Reviews: Holmes & Watson

An Impartial Review Posted on an Impartial Site by an Impartial Reviewer, Ron Russo

Holmes & Watson is a foreign period piece comedy-a truly rare film for the American cineplex. It’s the antithesis of Ricky Bobby and poses a no-win situation, but you have, in my estimation, the best comedy team in America taking a crack at it. Neither John C. Reilly nor Will Ferrell were involved in the story/writing as with their two earlier iconic films. Why would they sign on for this film? I believe both relish a challenge, love the UK, and are experts at improv. Here are some thoughts from a double matinee viewing.

The humor in Holmes & Watson is often subtle. There are numerous character traits or streams from Reilly’s “Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule” TV series. Dr. Steve is known to touch and attempt to kiss his interview subjects such as with the older and small in stature female employment counselor in “Money.” The elder Queen Victoria is not to be touched but Watson does so on numerous occasions and comments, “You look a lot smaller in person.” Dr. Steve has simultaneous vomit/diarrhea events in “Planes” and “Friendship.” Here it is Holmes at the morgue with the same gross out humor malady and Reilly as the color commentator. There are a few urine gags, too.

Costume is a Ferrell speciality and Holmes’ hat choice is a part of the story line arc. Holmes is often seen in a period girdle atop (coal covered) white long johns. I don’t recall a standard Ferrell dining scene here but Holmes does eat, and share with others, whole unpeeled yellow onions. Substances are another comic prop with heroin, opium, and cocaine heard in the dialogue, however beer is possibly the only one shown on screen, a missed opportunity. The following are samples of other types of humor in Holmes & Watson: a lot of sexual humor explaining “onanism” and sexting via telegraph; some Jacob Silj volume level is used summoning the housekeeper; a fair amount of physical humor mainly by Reilly with slapstick fights, some with foleys, and dances such as the Dutch jig; an indigenous singing/background music duet by Holmes and Watson recalling Buddy and Jovie with the now infamous “Baby It’s Cold Outside”; a wide array of animals with A) humans imitating dog howls-also seen with Champ Kind and B) Ferrell’s trademark of cats from his SNL audition tape of a businessman playing with cat toys to here his impression of a panther and extreme catlike love interest Millie; and national humor using colloquialisms such as chap, wanker, and huzzah-also heard from the BBC’s Sacha Baron Cohen at the beginning of the epic Anchorman 2 fight scene (originally slated to be in Holmes & Watson, and earlier the loathed foreign character, Jean Girard, in Talladega Nights).

When you buy a ticket to a film, you’re financially supporting it, so your review pro or con is that of a stakeholder; however professional film critics are not accustomed to this arrangement and this may or may not have had an influence on all of their negativity. As the inept Inspector Lestrade approaches, Holmes states, “I smell a tincture of ammonia and scrotum.” Will Ferrell has a track record with comic period pieces, Anchorman 1 & 2 and Semi-Pro, but the addition of “foreign” to the formula makes the English history, politics, characters, accents, and sets of Holmes & Watson a difficult and unusual piece for the American comedy audience, especially Cal and Ricky, and to a lesser extent Dale and Brennan. It is currently not performing up to projections at the domestic level but let’s see what the foreign markets hold, too. It would grade out to a minimum of 4.25 to my 4.75/5 for a relaxing matinee. The final shot of the film had Holmes and Watson in Wyoming, and Does Holmes have an American child on the way?

Ron Russo has taught over 100 upper division college comedy courses including the world’s only Will Ferrell course a dozen times. 12/29/2018

ron Russo