As the knives have already come out for Holmes and Watson starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, a December movie we saw the first preview for today, my contrary nature has inspired me to not just leave matters at enjoying the trailer twice. No, given the Sherlockian headwinds this admirable romp faces, honor demands that I stay up and go deep on this risky bit of business . . . Movies with Mikey deep. (Though at not nearly Mikey's talent level.)
So, the Holmes and Watson trailer. Trailer spoilers ahead, despite the fact some might say it's impossible to spoil this any further than it already is.
If you watched it on the official Sony Pictures YouTube release, as I did, you got to open on John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell shouting as loudly as they can, just standing in what is surely 221B Baker Street. Classic Reilly and Ferrell. No doubt this is those two doing a movie like those two do, whatever comes next.
After we are told this is the OFFICIAL Holmes and Watson trailer, the royal fanfare starts up, we get Queen Victoria, played by Pam Ferris, an actress who has been all over British television, including a run as Mrs. White in Cluedo. So right off the bat, someone with a mystery pedigree, right?
Queen Victoria is introduced to "the greatest detective of all time, Sherlock Holmes, and Dr. John Watson." Watson, ever the ladies man of the pair, immediately says an earnest "I love you!" to the Queen, which seems to put her off and she turns and walks away, but Holmes backs his friend up, agreeing that Victoria is "stunning." So in the very first scene we're shown from the film, we get Watson in military dress, Watson womanizing a bit, and Holmes demonstrating what close friends they are. Good Canonical stuff!
Watson goes on to narrate the next bits, as we see Sherlock Holmes dusting for prints, showing his skill at disguise (which fools Watson, just as it did in the Canon), and doing a bit of Robert Downey Jr. mental fighting calculation, showing that the film has an appreciation for other media Holmeses as well as the original material.
We get bees, of course, and as Elementary and Mr. Holmes have already paired Holmes with his retirement bees in the public mind, and this freshest of Sherlockian bits . . . Watson trying to shoot bees out of the air. Now, the bee-shooting segment of this trailer is a delight that, by itself, will draw me to the theater, just as the Quicksilver segments of the last couple X-men movies did. No matter what else happens in the film, the image of John H. Watson shooting at bees indoors is just too perfectly Sherlockian, combining key bits of Sherlockiana into a shining alloy of a moment.
The plot is spelled out pretty plainly -- there's a murder in Buckingham Palace and Professor Moriarty has challenged Holmes to solve it or else he'll kill the Queen. (A threat foreshadowed by Watson's bee-shooting, eh? For what bee would one want to shoot if now the queen?) And Moriarty is played by Ralph Fiennes, looking tremendously like the bearded Moriarty of the Rathbone films.
We get the Baker Street Irregulars, one of whom is a sassy young lady who spouts "No shit, Sherlock!" with all the guttersnipe gusto she can muster, providing what is perhaps the first time I ever thought that cliche has been used well at all.
A female rival (perhaps with her own Watson) shows up, and the preview rolls into clippy-action mode, boxing, shooting, croquet, a ship exploding, all to the tune of Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town." (And if you think that doesn't fit the Victorian setting, watch the movie A Knight's Tale a few dozen times and you'll lose that inhibition.) It's impossible to tell how all these random scenes will fall together, but when things slow down again, it's for Watson to try to get a Victorian selfie with Queen Victoria and Holmes, ending with Watson smacking the queen with her camera.
It's definitely more Police Squad than Seven Per-Cent Solution, and the physical comedy looks like it's working . . . well, for those of us that like physical comedy. And over-the-top foolishness. And there was something about the relationship between the two, that most key element in any Holmes and Watson adaptation, that felt good even with wackiness going on.
I'll even go out on a limb and say that Will Ferrell seemed to be turning in a performance that looked like he had paid attention to how a good Sherlock Holmes is played, even if his character was tilting more fool than genius. So much better than Sherlock Gnomes, which I went positive on just for fun . . . this movie looks like I'll actually be having a good time without having to gin up the happiness level on purpose.
And, truth be told, it's already been a good time for me and worth giving them my ticket money. Watson is shooting at bees. Actual bee-shooting! How has this never happened in a Sherlock Holmes pastiche or parody before? Did I miss something? No!
'Tis a pity they moved its original release date back from my birthday weekend at some point, as I'd have loved sitting down for this one before the Christmas crowds show up. (A traditionally horrible time to see movies, as people drag their boorish family members who haven't been in a theater ever, don't want to be in a theater, and just talk way too much . . . oh, wait, this movie is full of yelling. That might work after all.)
I can't wait.