Will Ferrell returns to the screen with his Talladega Nights and Step Brothers partner John C. Reilly for the underwhelming Sherlock Holmes comedy Holmes & Watson.
Ferrell plays Holmes and Reilly plays Watson in writer/director Etan Cohen’s film about the legendary duo’s efforts to prevent the murder of the queen. This isn’t the first Holmes comedy to hit the silver screen. In 1988, Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley teamed up for Without a Clue (it’s not bad). There’s still comedic potential to be mined from the pairing, but Holmes & Watson feels like they went with the first draft of the script.
One of the issues is that the characters of Holmes and Watson both seem too similar because they are both buffoons. Good comedy usually needs a straight man (or woman) and that feels like the case here. There are occasional gags that feel fresh and different, like a prologue where a child Holmes uses his powers of detection to wreak spectacular revenge on his schoolyard tormentors. But most of the script seems to proceed from the idea of “oh well, Ferrell and Reilly will make it funny when we film it.”