3.4 out of a possible 10 is a pretty tragic score to average from 5,584 voters, but that is what this shamelessly stupid movie has registered on IMDb. And yet… and yet… maybe because I saw it at the fag end of the over-sugared, over-schmaltzed and thankfully over-Chrissie period, I enjoyed its hopeless gaucherie more than I should probably admit. Will Ferrell and John C Riley have collaborated often before, most memorably on the classic (indulge me) Talladega Nights (2006), but they never look comfortable in the roles of Conan Doyle’s famous detective and his sidekick doctor – not that they try very hard. For a start, their accents are awful, but it’s not long before you understand that they are creating something that is closer to Vaudeville than satirical review. If you can go with that, the movie is a lot of fun. As in Talladega, the less rewarded of the two buddies, Watson (Riley), wants his role elevated – he craves the status of ‘assistant detective’, but the vain Holmes won’t have a bar of it. The scoundrel of the piece is, of course, Moriarty, and Ralph Fiennes gets into the swing of things with playhouse villainy. Assisting and competing with our two heroes are Dr Grace Hart (Rebecca Hall) – whose degree as a medical practitioner the men find barely credible – and her weird friend Millie (Laren Lapkus), to whom Holmes takes a shine. The jokes, though naff in the extreme, are often topical but over-worked – the ‘killing’ of Queen Victoria while the boys are doing a selfie with her is almost funny. But a number of attempts at lampooning the current political quagmire in the US and other social issues hit the ground with a thud. Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Hugh Laurie (as Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft), and everybody’s favourite Scottish actress, Kelly Macdonald, all turn up for an easy payday, but despite the class of those involved, it really has no redeeming qualities. But I still liked it.
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