Alan Menken Writes "Full-Throated Love Song" for Will Ferrell-John C. Reilly Comedy 'Holmes & Watson'

Will Ferrell - John C. Reilly Comedy -Holmes and  Watson - Graphic-H 2016
Istock; Hartswood Films & BBC Wales for BBC and One Masterpiece; Mike Marsland/WireImage; Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

What would a duet between Sherlock Holmes and John Watson sound like? Leave it to Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly to debut a same-sex love song in Holmes & Watson.

Composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater tell The Hollywood Reporter that they’ve written a pair of tunes for Etan Cohen’s Sony comedy, due out in 2018, about Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective team.

“One is essentially a love song between Watson and Holmes,” Slater explains. “It begins in a musical theater, almost Rex Harrison kind of a way, and then it turns into a full-on, ‘70s pop/soft rock love extravaganza, with an operatic interlude in the middle. It’s a bizarre hodgepodge.”

The two were approached by the Get Hard helmer to pen the genre-hopping number after they contributed that raunchy opening number to the animated Sausage Party. Jokes Menken of the assignment, “They probably thought, ‘Hey, these guys will do anything!’”

But Cohen specifically told the songwriters, “‘We don’t want you guys to be funny, we want you to write a full-throated love song. Just go for the over-the-top emotionality; the actors will make it funny,’” recalls Slater. “We just went at it from every possible angle.”

A second song “is a tongue-in-cheek busker number by a one-man band” that has “a Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins feel,” says Menken, who is also scoring a new live show at Wynn Las Vegas.

Ferrell and Reilly, who have previously teamed for 2006’s Talladega Nights and 2008’s Step Brothers, will play Holmes and Watson, respectively. Rebecca Hall, Kelly Macdonald, Lauren Lapkus and Rob Brydon are also featured in the cast.

A version of this story first appeared in the Dec. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.