Sherlock Holmes

Originally published way back in the olden days.

I was sharing a carton of soy egg nog I'd purloined from a Christmas Party last night with my Grandpa Schlomo (I put a star of david on the carton) when suddenly we were inspired to see a movie. I suggested we see something with action and derring-do because Grandpa has a tendency to doze off in the middle of movies and dream about the days when Cossacks tried to steal his breakfast cereal. So we decided on the new Guy Ritchie thriller, Sherlock Holmes. I love Holmes as much as I love any fictional character in the history of fictional characters, and I was intrigued to see him as a swashbuckler. Grandpa was skeptical, but that's just his nature and I laughed when he tried to tell me that the movie was going to be bad. "How bad can it be, it has Sherlock Holmes in it?"

Within several minutes, Grandpa leaped up, fully asleep, and tried to steal a box of popcorn from a young woman sitting nearby. "That's my Cheerios, comrade!" He yelled. I knew we were in for a long evening. Not only was this movie boring, it was stupid. And nothing is worse than a stupid and boring movie that costs 80 zillion dollars to make. The movie, for fans of bare-chested Hollywood stars, did have a lovely fight scene showing Holmes beating the crap out of a bare-knuckled drunkard, but I don't recall Holmes ever doing this in the books I read when I was 13. Not that I mind a re-imagining of Holmes -- let him beat up people -- but what sets my pipe and slippers on fire is the lack of "imagining" in "re-imagining." The story pits Holmes rationalism against a bad guy using superstition to take over the world. Or something. But the writers settle for action sequences and Holmes jumping to lots of conclusions: what we don't get to see is the great detective actually challenged. We don't see him slowly unraveling the mysterious mystery. We don't see him teetering on any metaphysical edges (though we do, of course, get to watch a literal teetering), so there's no thrill, no real conflict, no story. Why spend all that money and forget to tell a story. I used to think Hollywood didn't care about story since they could crank out an epic piece of garbage and still make bazillions, but now I'm wondering if there just aren't that many people who can actually TELL a story. Eesh. It's gotten so bad that a movie a child could have written -- The Hurt Locker -- is garnering all kinds of attention and winning awards. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would probably say to all of this, as Grandpa Schlomo did when he awoke from his stupor 3/4 of the way through the movie, "Oy, I'm drooling, can we go before I kick someone in the testes?"

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