After a century and a half of solving crimes, Sherlock Holmes has near-universal name recognition in the English-speaking world. His adventures and mysteries are ingrained into our being from a young age. Every few years a new Holmes comes to our screens, be it Jeremy Brett in the much-famed Granada Sherlock Holmes series or Benedict Cumberbatch’s whirlwind Holmes in Sherlock. And while the latter is on indefinite hiatus and other recent iterations, such as Jonny Lee Miller’s Sherlock in Elementary, are on their way out, perhaps it was a bit too soon for another entry in the grand lexicon.
Holmes & Watson, starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, is reportedly so bad people are walking out of the theater, and even Netflix refused to buy it. Crass and unfunny, the film has an impressively low Rotten Tomatoes rating — right now it stands at 8 percent. This leaves those looking for a Sherlock Holmes comedy out in the cold, but never fear. We have a list of five alternatives to Holmes & Watson to quench your Sherlockian thirst.
Without a Clue (1988)
This gem has Dr. John Watson as the brains behind the entire operation. Played by Ben Kingsley, Watson has invented the character of Sherlock Holmes in this comedy. He hires Michael Caine’s character to portray the detective in public, all while solving the cases and writing them up himself.
There’s about everything you want in a comedy here: slapstick, banter, ridiculous situations, and just a touch of drama. Also, Ben Kingsley looks mighty fine.
Asylum's Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes (2010)
Often referred to in Sherlockian circles as Sherlock Holmes vs. Dinosaurs, The Asylum’s go at the great consulting detective premiered around the same time as the first Robert Downey Jr. romp. Starring a delightfully bewildered Ben Syder as Holmes and Gareth David-Lloyd of Torchwood fame as a Watson in far too small a waistcoat, this film is everything you want in a parody. There’s robots, dinosaurs, robotic dinosaurs, long-lost family members, questionable historical eras, and a giant balloon. Also Dominic Keating?
The Asylum tends to make films that are so bad they’re good, but they’re also quite self-aware of that fact. That makes this a fine choice for some epically hilarious entertainment. Also, dinosaurs in Victorian England. What’s not to love?
The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975)
"Sheer-luck!" That's what Gene Wilder's character, Sigerson, calls his famous older brother. Desperate to get out from underneath the consulting detective's shadow, he tries to solve a puzzling case while his brother is away. To… varying degrees of success.
While a bit of a farce and not as tight as classics like Young Frankenstein or Blazing Saddles, this film is still worth it to watch for the cast alone: Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, and Dom DeLuise.
NRK's Sherlock parodies (2014)
If you want whimsy with an intense dash of WTF, Norway's trio of Sherlock parodies are the perfect way to highly entertain yourself. Aired originally on the Norwegian TV show Underholdningsavdelingen, they made their way online relatively soon after and were instantly loved by the then-blossoming Sherlock fandom.
They're weird. They make little sense. But they're also proper laugh-inducing spectacles of true absurdity. Vidar Magnussen (Sherlock Holmes) and Bjarte Tjøstheim (John Watson) are a hilarious pair who kind of make you wish they'd done a full-length episode of their own. After all, "rebooting is for cheesecakes."
The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
While not technically a comedy, this much overlooked gem of the Disney renaissance is a great and fun retelling of Sherlock Holmes in the world of mice. Basil of Baker Street is charged with finding the father of a young girl that’s brought to him by Dr. David Q. Dawson. The mystery becomes more intriguing once Basil discovers his arch nemesis Professor Rattigan is behind the kidnapping.
Beyond a fun and engaging story with some seriously sweet tunes thanks to Vincent Price, who voices Rattigan, The Great Mouse Detective is true to the heart of Sherlock Holmes. It also has an animated cameo from Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce’s turns as the detective and doctor; after all, Basil lives in 221B ½.