After the death of diplomat Henry Gropinger (an obvious parody of Henry Kissinger), the evil Professor Moriarty holds the world hostage with a threat to the end of civilisation as we know it. Representatives from around the world (including Indiana Jones’ actor Denholm Elliott) convene and decide to contact Sherlock Holmes’ grandson (John Cleese) to deal with the problem. Holmes, along with an incredibly dimwitted Watson (Arthur Lowe), come up with a plan to lure Moriarty out of hiding by having a gathering of the world’s greatest detectives.
Early scenes with Henry Kissinger and Gerald Ford impersonators play off some dated political humor, but the introduction of Cleese as Holmes (through a tremendously misguided fight scene) and, particularly, Arthur Lowe as an almost supernaturally dim (and possibly bionic) Watson soon liven things up. Lowe’s Watson is a logical progression of Nigel Bruce’s blustering Watson from the Basil Rathbone films, constantly pronouncing amazement at even the most obvious of Holmes discoveries with. In one of the film’s highlights, he even manages to kill the police commissioner (with Holmes watching in disbelief) through some incredible ineptitude.
The final scenes, concerned with a meeting of the world’s great detectives, is a showcase for some awful impressions (of Columbo, Poirot, Steve McGarrett, etc) and brings things to a grinding halt before the final reveal of Moriarty brings things to an amusing conclusion. The film is awfully disjointed, with some rather lame instances of drug humor obviously thrown in to be edgy, but serve as a distraction from some of the more amusing elements.
The DVD features no special features. A shame, because it would be interesting to hear how this project came together.