Will You Take Your Holmies To This Screening?

Holmes & Watson Poster

 

Sherlock Holmes has many forms, some of which are immortalized in our minds and others we wish could get a face lift and some reinvigoration.  Nevertheless, the eccentric detective of Scotland yard gets another revisit this holiday season, this time with a much more comedic direction than most versions tend to focus on.  Can the legendary comedian team that gave us Step Brothers, step up to a new relationship? Robbie K is here to share his thoughts on the another review as I take a look at the film:

 

Movie:  Holmes and Watson (2018)

Director:

Etan Cohen

Writers:

Etan CohenArthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were created by the late) (as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

Stars:

Will FerrellJohn C. ReillyRalph Fiennes

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Quick Run Time
  • Funny At Times
  • References To Other Versions
  • Secondary Character Was Funny
  • The Song

Summary:  As the reviews come in, you are seeing a lot of negative components, but I can say that despite this not being everyone’s cup of tea, the movie at least is short, running around the 1 hour and 20-minute mark, meaning you’ll get out of there fairly quickly.  In this short film, the movie manages to find some nuggets of well-timed lines that somehow held some wit behind the bantering.  Often for me it had to do with the references to other versions of the detective, with nods to the Robert Downey Jr and Benedict Cumberbatch creations that are super popular.  When it comes to these moments that is the component that I found the most entertaining.  Well that and the secondary character of Millie, whose simplistic bouts of nonverbal comedy had some of the better time laughs than either Ferrell or Reilly could drum up. Of note though, the little song number that Ferrell and Reilly get to perform had some zest to it, so I give them props for including that.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Paper Thin Story
  • Mystery Was Boring
  • Lazy Writing
  • Too Forced Of Humor
  • Missed Comedy Opportunities
  • Fixation on Banter
  • Diving Down Politically Heated Topics

Summary: Holmes and Watson’s first weakness comes from the paper-thin story they tried to sell with the comedy antics.  A very simplistic tale that tries to throw in shallow character development and a mystery, this version certainly did not focus its efforts on trying to have something to ground the comedy too.  The mystery itself is lackluster and overshadowed by the ridiculousness of the film and given the obvious answer as to whom is the culprit, makes for a plot that will have difficulties standing up to the law of good movies.

Of course, most fans of Ferrell may not really care or expect the story, because he is after all known for being the king of slapstick, banter, and inappropriate comedy.  While this movie follows that formula, it’s writing did not quite match the quality of other Ferrell flicks and not just because of the missing story. Holmes and Watson had trouble finding its stride, forgoing classic one-liners for mindless banter and arguing between the titular characters, or extended bouts of over the top slapstick that didn’t pack the punch the scenes sound effects had.  It was comedy that was too forced for me, the lines blunt displays of stating the political injustice we still complain about, which doesn’t have the intended prowess it wanted.  When those styles failed, they switched to the obsessive self-pleasing jokes that although had good chemistry between actors, again treaded down the gross pathway instead of the funny for me. And the worst part is, all of it is in forced accents, the characters pushing into overdramatic displays of emphasizing the words in very forced accents.  All of this boils down to work that either has grown too stale to work in the modern age, or was too forced and lacking the finesse earlier films held.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Holmes and Watson’s trailers have not sold you any lies, it’s a mess of predictable plot antics with overzealous comedic attempts that the two are famous for.  Yet the film does not have the same quality that the duos first film had all those years ago.  Is it because the comedy is stale, or is the focus on being too forced of comedy?  I don’t know the answers, but there is some serious need for plot development and better-balanced comedy to assist for any future installments.  As such, the movie missed its mark on a lot of things, needing to step back to the clever tipoffs, and timing than overstuffing the film with comedic banter. Thus, I can’t recommend this one for the theater, encouraging to hold out until Netflix picks it up.  Sorry guys!

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy/Crime: 5.5-6.0

Movie Overall: 4.0-5.0

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The House Wins…The Audience Loses

The House

 

Will Ferrell, a king of comedy in his days of SNL and the early years of his movie career.  Despite some flops in the box office, Hollywood continues to select him for the new standard of comedy.  And this weekend is yet another notch in his belt, as he stars alongside Amy Poehler and Jason Mantzoukas in the film entitled the House.  Robbie K back to give his thoughts on yet another movie to hit the silver screen, in attempt to save you some money and time in regards to your viewing pleasures.  Here we go!

 

LIKES:

 

Original concept:  We’ve seen plenty of casino themed movies, but they often involve breaking into steal or being mindlessly drunk and stupid.  The House though decided to carry the stupid over, but approach the casino story from the point of the house. Seeing the development of the casino from the ground up was a cool idea, and it gets points for originality in these regards.  All the troubles they experienced in developing it offered some nice variety in comedy as well.  Stupid idea?  Well yes, but hey at least they are trying to be unique.

 

Short run time:  I can’t elaborate much on this, but the House has a short run time to minimize the amount of sitting through meticulous jokes from Will Ferrell.  An added bonus is that the pace of the movie also moves, avoiding being caught too long in the repetitive repertoire of bantering and jokes. Hooray for decent editing.

 

Jason Mantzoukas: Not the most Oscar worthy performance, but Mantzoukas was a blessing in this movie.  His character, while not the most respectable, is very funny and provides excellent comedic relief from the…comedy… Okay, he provides a fresh comedy role to Ferrell and Poehler’s style.  His lines have a little more wit behind their development, and his delivery is spot on with that angle that adds some finesse to it.  And how casually he delivers the lines is impressive, not putting too much behind it to come off overacting or abrasive.  Perfect given the rest of this movie and again an oasis.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Lazy Writing:  I guess this isn’t a surprise, but the House is another example of how lowered expectations leads to mundane writing.  Much of the dialogue is curse ridden, filled with a number of expletives that are so overused it gets back into the annoying zone…again.  Throw in the number of lackluster innuendos and genital humor and you only end up further drowning in boring writing.  I’m not saying get rid of these gimmicks, I’m saying just use them in moderation and integrate them better.

 

Ridiculously stupid and mundane:  I’m sure you are saying, “Robbie, did you really not expect it to be stupid from the trailers?”  Of course, I wasn’t this naïve, but I had hoped the stupidity to be kept in check and a little more dynamic then what I got (see earlier comment about his Ferrell’s early work).  Unfortunately, the House just continues to hedge their bets on Stupid 27 (or whatever number you like in Roulette).  They continue the amp the ridiculousness into grander proportions, foregoing any logic, common sense, and eventually even fun for simplistic mind candy. And for me that got old and tiring with how much it matches to other films in this genre and how it barely stands out from all the milieu.

The Overacting:  Again no shocker here, but the cast certainly should not win much out of the popular choice awards for their portrayals.  Ferrell’s shouting and mindless banter were cute back in Elf and balanced in his other movies where he wasn’t the star.  Not the case here.  His mindless rants in this movie get old fast and his efforts to draw out every word didn’t impress more so as annoy me.  And Poehler wasn’t much better.  Her character had some inkling of intelligence, until the drug jokes come in and her attitude becomes crap.  At this point she joins her costar in being as obnoxious and loud as possible.  In regards to chemistry they go quite well together, unfortunately it is primarily in bouts of mindless babbling that get staler and staler with every iteration.

 

Unlikeable characters:  A final component is how unlikeable much of the cast is.  Despite how funny they are and how noble their intentions are, most of the House are awful on all accounts. Usually in comedies there are people who act as the moral grounds to bring the craziness back down, but outside of the daughter (who is hardly in the movie), everyone just escalates the craziness with their constant bickering, unhappiness and addictions.  Throw in that they just jump to obnoxious proportions with few moral rationing and you just can’t help but hope the thing blows up in their faces. Bitter and mean?  Probably, but this just further shows too much of any vice often leads to bad quality.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The House isn’t the worst thing to grace the theaters, however it certainly isn’t the best. Despite a unique concept presented in the trailers, the writers chose to travel down the mundane yellow brick road of innuendos and lame jokes we’ve heard time and time again.  Throw in the overacting and exponential stupidity and you’ll see the payout for this gamble is pretty low at best.  However, if you are a die-hard fan of the cast’s comedy style, by all means hit the theaters for this one and you’ll score a major laugh fest.  This reviewer recommends saving streaming services though, to maximize your resources.

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy:  5.0

Movie Overall: 3.0

Got Hard On Racial Stereotypes! A Simplistic Comedy That Tries Too Hard

Get Hard

            It seems like comedies are trying just about anything to get a laugh these days, scraping the bottom of the barrel for potential plots. As a result we get movies like Unfinished Business, Ride Along, and now Get Hard. To help breathe some life into the ridiculous tale the trailers show, the casting department has roped comedic legends Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell to help pull in some box office bucks. From the trailers you might expect:

  • A comedy about stereotypical prison motifs
  • Strong racist jokes that most likely know no bounds
  • Crappy plot that is usual of both of these actors
  • Same old comedy styles of the actors

So what do you get?

I can report the first two points are the strongest themes of this movie. The plot for those who don’t know is about Will Ferrell’s character James being arrested for embezzling and fraud.   The eccentric and arrogant millionaire has 30 days to get his affairs in order, which involves learning to survive in prison by local car washer Darnell (Kevin Hart). Already you might be cringing, but I admit some of the prison humor is creative, in particular the prison setup itself. I laughed more at the setting itself than the actual jokes, due to the simplistic setup and irony of James’ staff being the wardens. Unfortunately the jokes weren’t as entertaining, most of the scenes were shown in the trailers and those that weren’t, focused on the same joke themes of sex, sex, and a little prison fighting. Coat all of these jokes with curse-laden frosting and you get a mediocre comedy whose only break comes from Ferrell’s ridiculous rants. For your information, the prison riot scene has some intense strobe light action, which may precipitate seizures. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

How do they attempt to keep the prison jokes fresh? By adding every racial profile and stereotype joke you can think of. Get Hard spares no expense to poke fun at our perspectives of folks that end up in prison. Over the 100 minutes, you’ll get pummeled with mannerisms and lingo that are often associated with African thug life, including Ferrell trying on his “black face” as he calls it. They even threw in a few thug track lists to help seal the deal, some of the songs I do like. I chuckled at a few of these jokes, particular at Hart’s little impressions he plays so well, however like the prison jokes these too became stale, losing their comedic edge. Most of the jokes will be taken okay, but like always they occasionally overstep their boundaries with their jokes, perhaps starting another boycott for racial slurs. So here I warn that if you are easily offense by color jokes, you should skip this movie.

To my surprise the plot actually wasn’t half bad in this film. Get Hard has some a decent foundation for the jokes to hold anchor to mainly in the form of shaping James from pompous wuss into street champion. However there is a cute tale of brotherhood that adds some depth to otherwise one-dimensional characters and gives a little something else to the film, though not as good as Wedding Ringer. Yet it still is shallow and simplistic, and doesn’t have the emotional kick I would have liked to see.

Acting wise there isn’t much unique about this performance. Hart takes a step back towards his roots with a few shouting rants interspersed with his typical F bomb dialog. Fortunately he hasn’t returned all the way back, managing to dial down his craziness with some clever lines and good comedic timing. This allowed me to once again enjoy his comedy without wanting to punch his face in or rip my ears off, a positive thing indeed.. I can’t say the same for Ferrell though. Somehow the hairy, homely looking white guy gets a hot woman and other than money I can’t figure out why? Babes aside though, Ferrell is still the pompous, overconfident boob he always plays in his movies. He still carries his lines with that air of superiority, though in this installment he frequently degrades into a whiney, pathetic baby. I felt he tried to hard in this movie, forcing his lines on me instead of perfecting the delivery like he used to do. Much of his lines were in that high pitched whisper from Elf, only without the over-energetic emphasis that Buddy had so long ago.

If you haven’t guessed it yet, I did not enjoy this movie as much I had hoped. Get Hard is indeed another simplistic comedy, where one is bombarded by endless jokes and derogative laughs. Sure it is fun at first, but most of the funny parts were shown in the trailers, and without the course language. Yet for those who love the comedians’ work, you’ll most likely laugh your heads off with the racial profanities and prison slapstick. You’ll enjoy it even more if you are drunk. Overall the choice is yours, but I recommend saving your money and catching this movie on RedBox in a few months. Believe me you can wait.

My scores are:

Comedy: 6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0