There’s no question Holmes & Watson is a bad film. It’s burdened with a cumbersome screenplay that can’t manage to latch onto a coherent comedic premise. Are Holmes (Will Ferrell) and perennial sidekick Watson (John C. Reilly) idiotic manchildren (à la Stepbrothers) or is this merely a parody of Sherlock tropes? Writer/director Etan Cohen flits between the two without rhyme or reason, while failing to find the necessary comic rhythms or any sense of visual style.
And yet this isn’t as disastrous as you might have been led to believe. I could praise the one or two decent jokes – a Ghost parody centring on a cake-covered corpse, or Watson’s lingering obsession with Queen Victoria (Pam Ferris) – but it’s hard to credit those when they’re buried amidst the heaps of shitty ‘topical’ references to Trump and gun control.
No, the real reason that I didn’t find Holmes & Watson as dire to sit through as many of my fellow critics is the easy chemistry between Reilly and Ferrell. There’s a reason these two keep appearing in comedies together, and even if this is unquestionably the nadir of their many collaborations, there’s still a familiar warmth that kept me halfway entertained throughout.