The following is my review and represents my opinion. No matter if you agree or disagree, I would like to have a discussion about the film and promote this wonderful art form. All I ask: be nice about it. Art is subjective and no one’s opinion is right.
With the Queen’s life under threat, Master Detective Sherlock Holmes(Will Ferrell) and his trusted partner, Dr Watson(John C. Reilly), must solve a murder in Buckingham Palace, one which closely follows the M.O. of his presumed to be gone archrival, Professor James Moriarty(Ralph Fiennes).
To this film’s credit, it took an entire 10 minutes for me to realise I hated it. For reference, the moment where Sherlock begins testing out potential hats, eventually brandishing a red fez with the phrase ‘Make England Great Again’ on it, was the moment I sighed, slumped back in my chair and awaited an end.
Against my best interests, I did not walk out – and what followed next was more Trump jokes, a plethora of cliches and a genuinely unhealthy and worrying number of sex jokes: also known as my idea of a bad time. Yet with all the “jokes” hitting the screen in spades, they travel with the momentum of a wet sponge and hit with the comedic effect of Schindler’s List. When you have such a talented comedic cast(all of whom are wasted) but can hear yourself blink: it is usually the writer’s fault. And to the cast’s credit, no performance was outright terrible: they all maintained solid comic timing and had a semblance of a clue as to how comedy works, that being it should be funny.
Unfortunately for us, writer/director Etan Cohen doesn’t have a clue, despite having the much loved Tropic Thunder and Idiocracy on his resume – with the latter’s satirical wit being the missing ingredient which could have saved this film. “Humour” in this film simplifies down to either sex references(which could be funny if it went full adult-comedy), Trump jokes(which could be funny if it was satirically charged) or any other juvenile, crass, crude and childish thought that crossed Cohen‘s mind, which could be funny if there was a sense of integrity and dignity backing it – which there isn’t. Do you think mental illness is hysterical? Or that masturbation is the pinnacle of humour? Or that outdated references(the duck-face joke in the trailer actually made it past editing, somehow) are modern peers to Chaplin? If the answer to any of those is yes, this film may be for you. It may pain me to say that, but you may very well see diamonds where I see grimy pebbles.
But for me, this film’s only redemption is that I could argue that, if I had to, it looked quite nice. Some of the cinematography is, dare-I-say, pretty; and the general costuming and sets are not abhorrent. Yet everything else is. Even the story and mystery – of a Sherlock Holmes, history’s greatest and most revered fictional detective, film no less – is lacklustre, boring and dull. Granted, I didn’t predict the ending – but I don’t know if the writers did either: or at least not at the start. You could tell me this film was made up on the spot each day of filming, and I think would agree.
What offends me most, is that I can neither get offended by it nor bring myself to call it the worst comedy of the year: as Show Dogs technically counts. And the sad thing is, I smiled at that film once more than I ever did in this. It’s just Show Dogs is indignant in purpose, form and execution; whereas this shambles of ‘jokes’ is only indignant in the latter: it doesn’t hurt anyone; it isn’t offensive and it isn’t built off ill intentions. But ultimately, in a year where Sherlock Gnomes exists: this somehow disrespects Arthur Conan Doyle(the original Sherlock Holmes’ writer)’s legacy the most, and the former had Holmes played by a Johnny Depp gnome. To Mr Arthur Conan Doyle, I would like to apologise on behalf of this film: Sherlock didn’t deserve this.