A progressively underwhelming comedy, Holmes & Watson follows Will Ferrell’s Sherlock Holmes and John C. Reilly’s John Watson as they set out to stop the impending assassination of no less than the Queen of England. Filmmaker Etan Cohen kicks Holmes & Watson off with a silly yet agreeable sequence detailing Holmes’ childhood discovery of his sleuthing powers, with the film, past that point, beginning its slow yet steady descent into almost complete irrelevance – as Cohen places a consistent (and aggressive) emphasis on jokes and gags of a palpably desperate and hopelessly unfunny nature. (It doesn’t help, certainly, that scripter Cohen delivers a series of contemporary references, including an impossibly dated parody of Ghost‘s infamous “Unchained Melody” sequence, that fall utterly flat.) The slapdash vibe, which is perpetuated by Cohen’s obvious emphasis on the actors’ improvised shenanigans, paves the way for an episodic midsection that misses far more often than it hits, and it goes without saying that the lack of momentum ensures that the picture’s third act is just about as interminable as one might’ve feared (although it’s worth noting that the movie’s one genuine laugh does emerge from this portion of this proceedings). The end result is a total debacle that makes one long for the comparative mastery of 2008’s Step Brothers, which is a shame, certainly, given the potential of the subject matter and the obvious chemistry between Ferrell and Reilly.
* out of ****