Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Without A Clue - 3.5/5

By 1988 cinematic adaptations of Sherlock Holmes had been done to death. How many adaptations of The Hound of Baskervilles was there? A hundred? Anyway you get my point and if filmmakers were going to give Sherlock Holmes another cinematic go-around it was time to try something new... and thankfully they did. The film-makers this time wisely decided to make Without a Clue a semi-spoof of the character Sherlock Holmes adding nice amounts of comedy into the mix.

The plot to this version of Sherlock Holmes turns the original vision on its head by making Sherlock Holmes' partner/sidekick Dr Watson (Ben Kingsley) the crime-solving mastermind. While solving crimes Watson wrote many stories about a character he created named Sherlock Holmes. To make the character real he hires a down-and-out bum actor (Michael Caine) whom he coaches through solving crimes. While bickering behind the public's eye throughout most of the film, they both always tend to mend fences while solving a crime of some stolen money printing plates. All clues lead Holmes and Watson (or should it be Watson and Holmes?) to devious criminal master Professor Moriarity (Paul Freeman, whom you might remember from Raiders of the Lost Ark).

Despite having strong production values and solid directing, the main draw of this film is it's stupendous cast. To be honest with Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley they could have made this a serious Sherlock Holmes adaption and it would have been just as good or even better. These guys are great and complement each other perfectly! I had a ball of a time seeing Holmes as a drunk, skirt chasing buffoon and Watson as the cool and collected crime solver.

The film has some great comedic sequences and thankfully the filmmakers opted out at making this a complete slap stick comedy. Still however people expecting a complete comedy with wall-to-wall laughs will come out a little disappointed as the laughs are spaced out and even mixed in with some downright serious moments. It's actually a strange combination as if the filmmakers weren't sure if they wanted to go the complete comedy route our not and the result is just a little bit confused.

Perhaps with a little tighter script and maybe a little more comedy this Sherlock Holmes spoof could have been even better. As it is it is still satisfying and the cast just fantastic. Actually after watching the film I craved seeing Michael Caine and Ben Kinsley in a serious adaption of a Holmes story. They were that perfectly cast!

Written By Eric Reifschneider

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