As far as critics are concerned, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly’s new take on Sherlock Holmes scores as a must-miss with a near-universal drubbing of the film upon its Christmas Day debut.
In Holmes & Watson, Will Ferrell stars as a clueless master detective, Sherlock Holmes, while his repeat film partner, John C. Reilly, does a turn as Holmes’ sidekick, Dr. Watson. But, perhaps signaling just how bad the film turned out to be, Columbia Pictures did not let critics screen the movie ahead of its debut and then released it on Christmas Day.
Critics may not have had much fun watching Holmes & Watson, but while severely blasting it with one snide swipe after another, they seemed to have more fun writing the reviews than they did in the theaters.
The A.V. Club reviewers called the “abysmally unfunny” Holmes & Watson “the worst feature-length film ever made.”
“One might call it a failure on almost every level—that is, if the movie ever gave the impression that it was trying to succeed,” the site continued.
The Etan Cohen-directed film was also slammed by Variety. Calling the film a “garden-variety parody,” the magazine insisted that the film delivered a “faint odor of horse manure” on Christmas Day.
Variety added that nearly every joke in the film falls flat due to the stars’ “clueless execution” and that it appears as if the Get Hard director’s whole concept began and ended with the idea of putting Ferrell and Reilly in the lead roles.
Hollywood Reporter ruefully notes that the Will Ferrell vehicle has achieved one amazing feat: “The movie currently sits at a zero percent on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.”
The Reporter’s review adds that the “troop out to theaters Christmas morning is something of which even Ebenezer Scrooge wouldn’t have approved.”
The film is so bad, the Reporter continues, that “You can feel the flop sweat” coming from the screen as the movie blunders on before you.
The Reporter also slams the anti-Trump bias in the film saying, “And there’s a strange amount of anachronistic Donald Trump-related humor, including bits about fake news and red MAGA hats (here reading ‘Make England Great Again’) that fall utterly flat in this context.”
Indiewire’s David Ehrlich slays the film saying it is “a comedy that’s somehow even dumber than the one that first galvanized their incredible chemistry.”
Ehrlich adds, “The trouble with ‘Holmes & Watson,’ a witless Sherlock Holmes spoof that supplies fewer laughs in its entirety than ‘Step Brothers’ does in its deleted scenes, is that the movie can never decide how dumb it wants to be. Or, more accurately, what kind of dumb it wants to be.”
And Rolling Stone dumped on the film saying it was “No, Sh*t Sherlock,” adding that it is “so painfully unfunny we’re not sure it can legally be called a comedy.”
Some critics also lamented that they had already written their “worst movies of 2018” lists because otherwise Holmes & Watson would have topped the list.
I should have waited before putting up the worst films of the year because #HolmesAndWatson was one epic pile of cinematic disgrace and an insult to the legacy of Sherlock Holmes.
— Danielle Solzman is excited for Sundance 2019 (@DanielleSATM) December 25, 2018
— LightsCameraJackson (@LCJReviews) December 25, 2018
Finally, nearly every review thus far noted that if you want to see an amusing take on the Holmes and Watson characters, rent a DVD of the two Robert Downy Jr. flicks.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.