'Holmes & Watson': What the Critics Are Saying

The first batch of reviews for 'Holmes & Watson' are mostly negative.

The first reviews are in for Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly's third onscreen collaboration, Holmes & Watson.

Written and directed by Etan Cohen, the film parodies Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detectives. It follows the pair as they try to stop their rival Professor James Moriarty (Ralph Fiennes) from assassinating Queen Victoria (Pam Ferris).

Holmes & Watson had a zero percent score on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes as of Wednesday afternoon. The movie was not screened in advance for critics, so subsequent reviews will likely be added that may affect the score.

The Hollywood Reporter's Frank Scheck called the film "devastatingly unfunny." Scheck wrote that the film, which was released on Dec. 25, cast aside a talented cast that includes Rebecca Hall and Kelly Macdonald. "Numerous talented British thespians are wasted in supporting roles in this Christmas turkey that, not surprisingly, wasn't screened in advance for critics," he wrote. The critic also wrote that the film didn't take advantage of being filmed in England and "may as well have been shot entirely on soundstages." He concluded that the comedy "doesn't even manage to be as funny as the recent Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr. versions."

David Ehrlich from IndieWire wrote that Holmes & Watson "supplies fewer laughs in its entirety than Step Brothers does in its deleted scenes." He criticized Cohen for the lack of a consistent tone when it came to the jokes featured in the film. "Cohen just throws a mess of half-funny jokes at the wall in the hopes that some of them might stick. They don’t," he wrote. Similar to Scheck, Ehrlich said that the film doesn't take advantage of the talented cast. He wrote, "The only compelling mystery about Holmes & Watson is how so many funny people have been squeezed into such an unfunny movie, a movie that isn’t nearly smart enough to recognize how stupid it should have been."

AV Club's Ignatiy Vishnevetsky wrote that Holmes & Watson "might be the worst feature-length film ever made about the 'consulting detective' from Baker Street." The critic wrote that Ferrell and Reilly's performances were "uncharacteristically unfunny and painfully awkward." Vishnevetsky said that the film's attempts at gross-out humor are "timorous and half-assed," while the plot is trivial. "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. Instead, it’s pervaded by an air of extreme laziness. It’s cheap and tacky," he concluded.

Screen Rant's Sandy Schaefer also gave the film a negative review. The critic wrote that the "lazy comedy" fails to tap into Ferrell and Reilly's chemistry from Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Step Brothers and it "wastes a fun premise and talented cast on tired jokes, tasteless gags and sometimes bafflingly outdated humor." Schaefer wrote that one outdated running joke in the film is that Ferrell's Holmes can't believe that a woman is a doctor. "There are fleeting moments where Holmes & Watson feels like one of Ferrell's better absurd comedies, but for the most part it's a botched attempt to realize what sounds like an enjoyably goofy idea on paper," he concluded. "It's also a film that either should've been released years ago or not at all, rather than being dumped in theaters well past its expiration date."

The New York Times' Ben Kenigsberg wrote that Ferrell and Reilly's onscreen chemistry positively impacted the "lackluster" comedy. "There is still intermittent joy to be found in their autumnal bromance," he wrote. The critic also noted that Lauren Lapkus' character "raises a few smiles," though he criticized the filmmakers for infrequently using Fiennes throughout the film. "He could just as well have been left on the cutting-room floor," he wrote. "In this context, it’s not really a case worth cracking."

Geoffrey Macnab from The Independent gave Holmes & Watson two out of five stars. The critic wrote that Ferrell and Reilly both struggle to be funny as their characters. "Ferrell wears that familiar look of beatific and deadpan innocence. His comic timing is still impeccable but that alone can’t come close to salvaging a film that has been put together in such an elementary way," he wrote. Macnab added that the film will "dismay Sherlock Holmes lovers and frustrate fans of its stars."

Noel Murray from the Los Angeles Times wrote that Ferrell and Reilly's dynamic in the film will "likely ... disappoint fans of the more sidesplitting 'numbskull buddies' dynamic the duo perfected in their hits Talladega Nights and Step Brothers.” The critic wrote that the film occasionally "hits on something bizarrely inspired," though "too many of the movie's gags land with a thud." Murray concluded, "Holmes & Watson is more of a well-meaning misfire than a total train wreck. It’s frustrating mainly because all of these folks can do much better."