Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sherlock Sunday: Without A Clue

From now until I run out of Sherlock Holmes movies and TV series (or until I drop dead, which is more likely to happen first), I will be posting a review of a Sherlock Holmes movie every other Sunday. I'm kicking off the series with a favorite of mine, a Holmes spoof actually.

Without A Clue (1988)
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Michael Caine, and Lysette Anthony
Director: Thom Eberhardt
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

In "Without A Clue," Dr. Watson (Kingsley) is the real master-detective, and Sherlock Holmes (Caine) is just an actor that Watson hired to put a more markatable face on the consulting detective business. But Watson finds himself trapped by his PR effort when he tries to get rid of Holmes and start taking the accolades for the mystery solving himself: When Scotland Yard comes to Watson with a case that may well ruin the British Empire if it isn't solved, they will only accept the services of Sherlock Holmes. Watson reluctantly brings the actor back onboard, but soon Watson falls victim to foul play, and the bumbling, lecherous, drunkard actor is left struggling to find just one clue that will help him save the day.

"Without A Clue" is one of the better "reinventions" of the Sherlock Holmes mythos that has been made. It is funny, charming, and respectful of the whole idea of Sherlock Holmes' pretty outrageous deductions while still managing to say "it was all made up, here's the real story." The film is a bit slow in the middle, but the third act really fires on all cylinders when it falls to "Holmes", Wiggims, and Mrs. Hudson to save the day.

A final benefit to this version is that anyone who was annoyed by the Universal Pictures Holmes films in the 1930s and 1940s--where Nigel Bruce played a Watson who was just this side of retarded--will really get a kick out of the fact that "Holmes" is the nitwit

I recommend this film highly if you enjoy Sherlock Holmes and British comedy.

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