Sunday, January 3, 2010

Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes (2009)

The Tanuki turned 40 recently. He feels old and crotchety. He wears a cardigan sweater that Gap designates the Grandpa - he first started wearing cardigans at 18, with an honest thrift-store find that he wore, as only 18-year-olds can, ironically. He's too old to wear this one ironically: he wears it because it's warm and comfortable.

If I had a lawn, I'm sure I'd be yelling at kids to get off of it.

Not only that, but: I've also read all the Sherlock Holmes stories. I don't have them memorized - don't quiz me - but I've read them, and I liked them. And I'm loyal to books as a rule, especially old books.

Not only that, but: I'm losing patience with Hollywood action movies. Finally, at long last. Mrs. Sgt. Tanuki and I sat through all the previews before Sherlock Holmes, and were rolling our eyes at most of them. When I was younger, I would have wanted to see all those movies. Now it's not like I'm too sophisticated for them. It's just: who cares? I still like some action movies - I was smiling the preview for Iron Man 2 - but... I'm starting to feel that most of them are made for people too young to have been through all this before. I have.

Not only that, but: we only ended up seeing Sherlock Holmes because we couldn't get tickets to Avatar.

I admit to all of this so you'll understand why I say I think I should have hated this movie. It's worse than irreverent toward Conan Doyle's Holmes: it's almost indifferent. It takes the most cerebral of characters and makes him a member of Fight Club. It's not a mystery, it's an action movie, and I'm not sure it's a particularly well made one. Guy Ritchie's good at putting chaos on the screen, but not order; the action here is often a bit confusing.

All of that said, I didn't hate the movie. Mostly, I guess, because Robert Downey, Jr., and Jude Law are so damn good in it. Law is a great Watson - pretty near the page version, I have to contradict myself and say - he's smart as well as stolid. And Downey - well, he may not be a great Holmes in the way Jeremy Brett or even Rupert Everett was, but he's a great actor, always fun to watch, always improving whatever he's in. The two of them have real chemistry, which is good, since the film concentrates so much on their bromance (to use a term some of my students use: those darn kids).

So: not a great film, but pretty irresistible anyway because of its leads. I find myself excited for the sequel (which the ending plainly telegraphs).

I find I'm not the only one to feel this way about the movie.


Anonymous said...

You ARE old and crotchety. I have a lawn and I would yell at any kids who played on it. I'd also stomp any who stomped on my tulips (if I had any tulips).

When you do go see Avatar, see it in 3D. I'm not sure how the 3D glasses will fit over your real glasses, but the 3D is worth it. It's not an afterthought; it's integral to the cinematography. And it's cool.

Patty Pan said...

I liked it a lot. Downey's Holmes is almost nothing like the book version, but he's still brilliant and misanthropic. Just also manic, apparently. ;)

RedMaigo said...

Sherlock Holmes, or Holmes X Watson as some people are calling this movie, was alright.

But Sherlock Holmes as 21st century action hero does nothing for me. I love Robert Downey Jr but he was pretty much being Tony Stark lite with his brillance, his excesses and his libido turned down to just above warm.

Or maybe that's just Robert Downey Jr playing himself. Hell, it's worked for Jack Nicholson all these years right?

I truly miss the late, great Jeremy Brit but that man is a once-in-a-generation thing. I don't feel that Robert Downey Jr's performance of Sherlock Holmes will be remembered at all.

However, Jude Law's Watson may be the best yet (My apologies David Burke). This movie pulled Watson out from Holmes' shadow and nearly stole the show.

Which kind of bothered me in a way since the name of the movie is Sherlock Holmes not Dr. Watson's Sherlock Holmes.

I know I sound like I hated the movie, which I didn't. But I didn't love it either. It was mediocre and sometimes that can be worse than bad.

Tanuki said...

You've got a point about Downey's Holmes being a lot like his Tony Stark. He puts a lot more tics and quirks into his Holmes - he plays Tony Stark pretty suave - but in both he's channeling his real-life charming-rogue, recovering-bad-boy persona. But like you say: it works for Jack. There's a place for Hollywood style persona-as-acting.

Speaking of recovering-bad-boy charmers, it's looking like a stroke of casting genius to put Mickey Rourke opposite Downey for Iron Man 2. I mean, you can practically count the 12 steps from the trailer...

RedMaigo said...

Oh and sorry for the abrupt post. Long time lurker first time posting.

Congratulations on your birthday and welcome to the other half of your life.

Gabba gabba hey...

Tanuki said...

Thanks for the comment! I don't have one of those counter thingies, so it's always a pleasant surprise to find that somebody's actually reading this.

RedMaigo said...

>Speaking of recovering-bad-boy charmers, it's looking like a stroke of casting genius to put Mickey Rourke opposite Downey for Iron Man 2.

Yes, Micky Rourke has become an outstanding actor in his later years.

Another 80's Hollywood casualty that has pulled themselves from the outer-darkness of has-beens and also-rans and are now giving -- arguably -- the best performances of their careers.

Speaking of which are you ever going to do a review of The Wrestler?

>I don't have one of those counter thingies, so it's always a pleasant surprise to find that somebody's actually reading this.

I found about your site on the blogroll of another site that I can no longer remember. That was awhile ago. I will continue to lurk but I may comment in the future.

Tanuki said...

I'll review The Wrestler if I ever get around to seeing it. I just haven't yet. It's in the Netflix queue - somewhere around no. 150, after a bunch of discs of Gilmore Girls, The Wire, Voyager, Rurouni Kenshin, and a few other TV series we're hooked on right now.

Cat said...

Your review confirms that I should overcome my squeamishness and go see this movie, if only for the charisma fest of Downey and Law. I was a HUGE Holmes junkie as a kid and, as others have mentioned, wax enthusiastic about the Jeremy Brett Granada series. I do like the idea that casting Jude Law retrieves Watson from past bumbling cinematic incarnations. Watson does end up stumbling across not one but two wives over the course of the Holmes mysteries, as I recall, romancing one in the midst of The Sign of the Four. Making him attractive in appearance and demeanor seems only fair to renovating his image!