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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Without a Clue

***** Without a Clue. Comedy/mystery.

Directed by: Thom Eberhardt.
Starring: Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley.

I watched this with the boys on video when Carl was away from home. I'd forgotten how much I love this movie.

Ben Kingsley is Dr. Watson, a man of science and logic who uses those skills to solve crimes and then writes stories about them. He's hired an actor, Reginald Kincaid (Michael Caine) to play his fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes.

But "Holmes" is getting on Watson's last nerve. He's getting cockier, not following instructions, and on the verge of blowing the whole scheme with his profligate ways. So
Watson fires Kincaid and styles himself as "the crime doctor," but the public wants Sherlock Holmes, and even Inspector Lestrade (Jeffrey Jones), who's suspicious of Holmes's techniques, won't listen to him.

It's particularly bad timing, as the financial fate of the country depends on the swift resolution of a case that the Queen herself asks Holmes to solve.

Then Watson disappears and Kincaid/Holmes is left to solve the case himself, with the help of Mrs. Hudson (Pat Keen) and Watson's Baker Street Irregulars (street urchins, in case you aren't familiar with the Sherlock Holmes stories).

This is a film in which everything just comes together so perfectly that it seems effortless. The comic timing is genius--in fact, Holmes & Mrs. Hudson on the stage is a classic piece of physical comedy with impeccable timing. Caine and Kingsley play off each other very well--neither upstaging the other--and there's more depth to the characters than just the surface frustrations with each other.

Caine's Holmes is a frustrated actor, drinking and womanizing because he knows he's nothing special. When he's called on to prove himself, it's lovely to watch his self-esteem grow. The same is true of Kingsley's Watson. He's a man of science, true, but he's tired of being in the shadows, and needs recognition and appreciation--like we all do.

I think that's why I enjoy Without a Clue so much--it has layers. There's the twist of the Sherlock Holmes story, which is fun, then there's the mystery/adventure plot itself, which is intriguing and exciting, and then there's the emotional story of the main characters, which is... er... emotional. In other words, it's satisfying on several levels, making it a movie I can watch more than once.

The boys enjoyed it, too.


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I haven't seen this movie in years! I remember laughing so hard when I saw it the first time. I think I may have to go hunt it down to watch it again. Thanks for the reminder!
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