Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly – the legendary duo from ‘Step Brothers’ and ‘Talladega Nights’ – reunite in ‘Holmes & Watson’, a unique and comic take on the world’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his faithful companion, Dr. John Watson. The game is afoot, or “a going,” as Holmes proclaims, when a dead body is discovered in Holmes’ birthday cake at Buckingham Palace. It seems the perpetrator is their longtime nemesis, criminal mastermind Professor James Moriarty (Ralph Fiennes), but the famed sleuth has doubts. As their investigation uncovers one twist after another, Holmes and Watson face the greatest threat of their partnership. The master sleuth and his dependable partner must remain united to find the killer, save the Queen, and restore the reputation of the world’s greatest crime-solving duo – if the case doesn’t tear them apart first.
Over 125 years after his creation by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes remains the most popular fictional detective in history and continues to intrigue and delight fans around the world. Conan Doyle wrote 60 stories featuring Holmes and his friend and biographer John Watson, which in turn inspired countless films, television series, and Holmes stories penned by others.
Conan Doyle was first and foremost a storyteller and while his Holmes tales were not overt comedies, they were always entertaining and fun. So, it’s not too much of a stretch to see the characters and their world re-imagined, through the reteaming of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, and the unique voice of writer-director Etan Cohen (‘Tropic Thunder’, ‘Get Hard’), as a raucous comedy rife with physical and verbal humour and comic twists and turns, along with murder, mystery, absurdity, pageantry, and a storied partnership that may be on the rocks.
The Ferrell-Reilly reunion, following their team-ups as NASCAR-driving buddies in ‘Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby’ and as aimless middle-aged losers in ‘Step Brothers’, reaches new heights of mayhem, madness and mirth in ‘Holmes & Watson’. Says the film’s writer-director Etan Cohen: “Will and John’s superpower is that they can play these man-children who, played by anyone else, might appear to be jerks, but they make them lovable.”
According to Ferrell, who also serves as a producer, Holmes’ position in our zeitgeist gave the filmmakers license “to go where no Sherlock has ever gone before.” Ferrell’s choice of words, which recalls the opening narration for the original ‘Star Trek’ television series, isn’t accidental because, as he explains, “We wanted Sherlock to be a comedic version of a supremely logical character, like Mr. Spock. Holmes is all about logic. He’s so incredibly smart but at the same time he lacks the interactions and feelings that most normal humans possess.”
Ferrell also pays tribute to – or, as he jokes, “steals a page from” – the quintessential Victorian-era Holmes, played by Jeremy Brett in a series of British television films produced in the 1980s and 90s. Brett’s portrayal of the detective was acclaimed around the globe but wasn’t widely recognized as being humorous. Ferrell says otherwise: “Jeremy’s brilliant work sometimes made us laugh so hard,” he recalls. “If you watch his performances through a comedic lens, Jeremy’s Holmes would be dissecting a piece of information and then would suddenly start yelling at the top of his lungs.”
FILM: HOLMES & WATSON
CAST: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Rebecca Hall, Rob Brydon, Kelly Macdonald, and Ralph Fiennes
DIRECTOR: Etan Cohen