23 September 1999 | Spleen
Absolutely brilliant, Watson! A Sherlock Holmes story where LESTRADE SOLVES THE BLOODY CASE!
The Sherlock Holmes stories are full of monumental blunders. Watson's famous war wound, which moves about from limb to limb, is among the least of them. Most of the blame for Arthur Conan Doyle's unparallelled clumsiness has fallen upon poor old John (or, according to one story, James) Watson - as if HE could possibly be responsible for the all (or any) of the inanities in, say, `The Mazarin Stone'.
`Without a Clue' is an honest, meticulously researched film that does what it can to redress the injustice. It reveals that Watson was really the brains of the Holmes/Watson team - that Sherlock Holmes does not, technically speaking, even exist. How does this get us around all the inconsistencies that have puzzled Sherlock aficionados over the past century? To be frank, it doesn't. But no theory does. There are just too many inconsistencies to be fended off and this theory is about as likely to be right as any other. It's the theory I tend to believe. At least it's funnier than any of its rivals.
Anyone who loves the Holmes stories - anyone who has not been exposed to the stories but is genetically predisposed to love them nonetheless - MUST see this film. You don't need to know who Holmes, Watson, Lestrade and Moriarty are in order to enjoy it. Or rather, you need to know, but whatever you may think, you DO know - knowledge of the Sherlock Holmes universe has found its way into the water supply and 90% of all people are born with it. That's why `Without a Clue' is so hilarious. That's why it won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Actor. Actually, it didn't win anything, but I presume this was only because of some footling technicality.
P.S.: I should really set readers' minds at rest by telling them that Lestrade doesn't really solve the case. `Without a Clue' offers us a radically revisionist account of history - but not THAT radical.