Holmes & Watson
Holmes & Watson is a 2018 mystery comedy film written and directed by Etan Cohen. The film stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as the eponymous characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, respectively; with Rebecca Hall, Rob Brydon, Kelly Macdonald, Steve Coogan, and Ralph Fiennes in supporting roles. The plot follows the famed detective duo as they set out to find the culprit behind a threat at Buckingham Palace.
First announced in 2008 with Sacha Baron Cohen as Holmes and Ferrell as Watson, Holmes & Watson languished in development hell for several years before Ferrell and Reilly were confirmed for their eventual roles in July 2016, and Etan Cohen was announced as director. Filming took place around London from late 2016 to early 2017. It is the fourth collaboration between Ferrell and Reilly after Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Step Brothers (2008), and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013), and the first not to be directed by Adam McKay (who co-produced this film with Ferrell, Jimmy Miller, and Clayton Townsend).
Holmes & Watson was released in the United States on December 25, 2018, by Sony Pictures Releasing, through its Columbia Pictures label. The film underperformed at the box office, grossing $41.9 million worldwide on a $42 million budget and was panned by critics, who lamented its poor script, dated and unfunny jokes and its squandering of the cast and source material. Some critics labelled it the worst film of 2018. The press reported numerous instances of people walking out early during screenings. The film received six nominations at the 39th Golden Raspberry Awards, and won four, including for the Worst Picture.
In July 2008, it was reported that Sacha Baron Cohen would play Holmes and Will Ferrell would play Dr. Watson in a comedic take on Sherlock Holmes, to be produced by Judd Apatow with a script written by Etan Cohen, for Columbia Pictures.
On August 17, 2016, it was reported that Ferrell and John C. Reilly would star in the film, titled Holmes & Watson, and written and directed by Etan Cohen, with Ferrell playing Holmes and Reilly playing Watson. On November 14, 2016, Lauren Lapkus was cast to play Millie, with whom Sherlock is obsessed. On November 17, 2016, Rob Brydon, Kelly Macdonald, and Rebecca Hall were added to the cast. On January 6, 2017, Ralph Fiennes and Hugh Laurie also joined the cast. Filming began in early December 2016 in London at Shepperton Studios. In early February 2017, film crews were on location at Hampton Court Palace. A new song was written for the film by Alan Menken and his lyric-writer Glenn Slater, while the original score was composed by Mark Mothersbaugh.
Detective Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson join forces to investigate a mysterious murder at Buckingham Palace. It seems like an open-and-shut case as all signs point to Professor James Moriarty, the criminal mastermind and longtime nemesis of the crime-solving duo. When new twists and clues begin to emerge, the world's greatest sleuth and his trusted assistant must now use their legendary wits and ingenious methods to catch the killer before the queen becomes the next victim.
Why It's Holmeless
- It came out way too late to be relevant, as it's supposed to be a parody of the Sherlock Holmes movie by Guy Ritchie - released all the way back in 2009.
- On top of that, the stories have already been parodied countless times before, so this is nothing fresh.
- It is disrespectful and insulting to the original Sherlock Holmes stories. The whole movie speaks for itself.
- Generic plot that doesn't really stand out from any other detective film, even as a Sherlock Holmes parody film.
- The humor is unfunny and is basically the same joke about something in modern times (the late 20th century to the present day) existing in the time of Sherlock Holmes for 90 minutes.
- Poor grasp of the source material:
- It has the need to shove in pointless and unnecessary political humor with references to Donald Trump, the 'Special Relationship' policy and such.
- There is even a scenario that involves the Titanic (which doesn't make sense since the Titanic didn't sail until 1912 and the events of Sherlock was during the mid-to-late 1800s) including a small cameo "joke" with actor Billy Zane, where he appears for no reason other than to make a (odd) homage and/or joke to the 1997 Titanic movie.
- The film literally starts with a direct shoutout to Hannah Montana, a sitcom tv show without Disney's permission in a film set in the 1800s. Seriously?!
- Speaking of the show, the quote is not mentioned anywhere in the episode that was cited in the shoutout, as pointed out by Cynical Reviews.
- There are also random appearances from famous people like Harry Houdini and Albert Einstein, despite both men being in their teens at the time.
- Immature humor, such as Sherlock making jokes about masturbation.
- Speaking of which, there are very gross scenes like the infamous "vomiting scene". Another scene involves Watson and his love interest rubbing cake all over a dead body and a younger Holmes being tricked into kissing a donkey's butt.
- Poor pacing, with some scenes being incredibly long.
- It barely does a good job "parodying" the character (Sherlock Holmes).
- The sets are nothing special.
- Terrible and laughable acting from the cast, namely Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, who later ends up being nominated at Golden Raspberry Awards.
- The script is awful and doesn't feel like a Sherlock Holmes story at all.
- Sherlock Holmes is inconsistently portrayed: he is either actually intelligent or a typical Will Ferrell manchild character, depending on the scene.
- The title Holmes & Watson itself sounds generic and uncreative.
- There is at least one moment worthy of a chuckle, that being a scene where Dr. John Watson tries to shoo away bees while shooting them.
- Dr. John Watson gets a badass moment at the end where he disposes of a timebomb via brute force, unintentionally killing the villains in the process.
- Good soundtrack by Mark Mothersbaugh.
Critical and audience response
Holmes & Watson was not screened in advance for critics, who subsequently panned the film. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film at first held an approval rating of 0% "rotten" before moving to 10% based on 77 reviews, with a weighted average of 3.03/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson than does Holmes and Watson.". On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 24 out of 100, based on 23 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "D+" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it one out of five stars and a 30% "definite recommend". It currently has a 3.8 on IMDb as well. On Letterboxd, the film has an average rating of 1.5/5.
The movie currently has a Google users rating of "49% of users liked this film".
It was also discovered that Sony had wanted to ship the movie off to Netflix (showing they had little faith in it), but Netflix refused.
Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter called the film "a Christmas turkey" and wrote, "The overall shoddiness is typical of this feeble sendup that doesn't even manage to be as funny as the recent Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr. versions." Ben Kenigsberg of The New York Times found the film dull, writing: "More laughs are all that would have been necessary to prevent the stagnation of Holmes & Watson. As the movie stands, smuggling in booze to dispel the sense of dull routine could only help." Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club called it "a failure on almost every level," further saying, "it's pervaded by an air of extreme laziness. It's cheap and tacky—a bizarrely dated parody of Ritchie's Holmes (complete with a soundalike score) poisoned with rib-elbowing topical references and puerile gags. It's the Sherlock Holmes movie with the red 'Make England Great Again' hat and the lactating Watson." Writing for Rolling Stone, David Fear called the film "so painfully unfunny we're not sure it can legally be called a comedy," and gave it 0.5/5 stars. Tony Libera, writing for City Pages, described the film as "not only bad, but one of the worst and unfunniest movies of 2018." He wrote that "Holmes & Watson is on another level of awful."
Graeme Tuckett of Stuff.co.nz gave the film two stars, stating that while it "has a handful of moments of genuine comic lunacy... all they really do is highlight the laziness and lack of laughs in the rest of the film." IndieWire reviewer David Ehrlich criticized the script and inability of the film to decide "what kind of dumb it wants to be", giving it a grade of C− and saying that it contained fewer laughs "than the deleted scenes of Step Brothers." David Edelstein of Vulture.com wrote "Holmes & Watson begins as ineptly as any comedy I've seen, and then settles into an agreeably silly groove that had the common hordes around me yukking it up." Jake Wilson of The Sydney Morning Herald was more positive, writing, "Holmes and Watson is not for everybody, but if you want to see Ferrell off the leash, this is the best opportunity in a long time."
Steve Coogan playfully mocked the film in October 2019 during a BAFTA Britannia Award ceremony. Standing on stage with John C. Reilly, the actor gave a speech where he advised not to laugh while having an upset stomach, saying: "So best to avoid laughing. If you want to do that, I can recommend a film that John and I did called Holmes & Watson. You should be pretty safe with that."
Holmes & Watson grossed $30.6 million in the United States and Canada and $11.4 million in other territories for a total worldwide gross of $41.9 million against a production budget of $42 million.
In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Vice and was projected to gross around $19 million over its first six days. It made $6.4 million on its first day and $3.5 million on its second. It went on to make $7.3 million in its first weekend for a six-day total of $19.7 million, finishing seventh. Publications reported numerous social media reports of audiences walking out of screenings early and The Verge argued that the film's critical and commercial failure illustrates a shift within the film industry away from broad comedy films with A-list stars. In its second weekend, the film dropped 54% to $3.4 million, finishing 10th.
Awards and nominations
The film won the "Worst Picture" award at the 39th Golden Raspberry Awards, it also won "Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel", "Worst Supporting Actor" (for John C. Reilly) and "Worst Director" (for Etan Cohen), and was also nominated for "Worst Screen Combo" (for Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly) and "Worst Actor" (for Will Ferrell).