Appalling Holmes & Watson

 DATELINE: Elementary, School That is.

elementary school.jpeg 

We were warned, and now you are warned.

The Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly remake of a comic Conan Doyle couple is not exactly a blue-plate special. It is going for .99 cents on Amazon streaming video. You know that price is rock bottom for rock bottom quality. This is a step down for the Step Brothers.

The film is horrific in terms of anachronisms. There are references to killer bees, protein shakes, and headlines that smell of National Enquirer in the 1950s.

Worse yet are the fake British accents on our traditional heroes, showing that they cherish good acting as much as a paycheck. The actors playing them as children speak with American accents (as do all the kids in London).

Mrs. Hudson is a trollop—and not from the British pages of classic literature.

We almost expected Judi Dench was likely offered the role as Queen Victoria—and that would have set us off on a tangent. Instead, we have Ralph Fiennes acting in a separate movie as Moriarty.

He has no flair for comedy.

Perhaps the most surprising couple in the film are the Road Trip movie stars: Rob Brydon as Lestrade and Steve Coogan as the one-armed tattooist.

We almost wish they had played Holmes and Watson. Of course, this may be the only version in which Lestrade is smarter than Holmes.

The movie moribundly moves from one witless encounter and set-up to another. Killer bees are inexplicably in a glass case at 221b Baker Street, allowing for a madcap moment without suspense.

Another stupid setup is Holmes surprise birthday party thrown by the Queen.  Who wrote this drivel? Mindless is the Zeitgeist of the age: and if this is you, you will be in your element.

Yes, it’s elementary.  Elementary school.

When a Little Dickens Makes a Tale


Fiennes & Jones


When your movie title sounds like a 1940s poverty row production from Universal Studios, you better fire the marketing people (or hire a better writer).

The 2013 film The Invisible Woman may sound like a waste of time, but it is not about John Barrymore overacting in one of his last and worst movies. No, this picture is actually about the young mistress of Charles Dickens.

Directed by Ralph Fiennes, who also limns the great novelist, we learn that great Dickens was a little Dickens when it came to extra-marital affairs.

The uninspiring Reubenesque woman who bore him a passel of brats was a wronged woman. The attention here is on the slip of a girl (Felicity Jones) who bedded the author of Little Dorrit and Great Expectations. This movie falls in between, sort of like Middle March/December romance.

Public relations and moral rectitude were important in Victorian England. And, Boz could not tolerate any buzz about a little loving on the side. You had to leave that sort of thing to Oscar Wilde.

Therefore, to make a movie about the life of Dickens is to focus on the first syllable of his surname to find the right proportion to his work.

Usually we leave this sort of thing to Masterpiece Theatre, or a USA movie of the week.

On the contrary, this is a stately film, more characteristic of the 1950s big studio productions when literate audiences wanted a Cadillac production and grand biography. You can forgive us if we think Shia LaBeouf and Lindsay Lohan ought to be cast as the principals.

When you give Dickens the treatment afforded Burton and Taylor, or My Cousin Rachel, you have an anachronistic movie for those of us who deserve a treat and seldom receive one.