‘Bigger, Better, Funnier’ – if I see that poster one more time . . .

Everywhere I go I keep having the new Guy Ritchie movie ‘Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows’ thrust in my face, massive posters adorn practically every solid object on the high street, writes Charlotte Anne Walters.

Even though I find the aggressive marketing off-putting, it’s the strap-line which really kills it for me – ‘Bigger, Better, Funnier’.  It sounds more like a spoof than a serious attempt to portray Sherlock Holmes on the big screen

Okay, I know there is a bit of ‘sour grapes’ creeping in here.  I don’t have the resources/celebrity friends/millions to promote my novel and shove it in everyone’s faces in the hope that they just cave in and buy it, and I know it’s Christmas so I should try to be a little nicer about things, but I don’t like the direction Ritchie is taking Holmes in and I can’t help grumbling about it.  Christmas-or-not.  Bah-humbug, or do I have a point?

As a character, Sherlock Holmes is all about the small things – paying attention to tiny details which seem insignificant to everyone except himself, taking on cases which seem so small that the official police don’t understand their significance.  Bigger is not better.  The last film was big and funny enough thank you, if this one really is ‘bigger’ and ‘funnier’ then surely it becomes a parody, a joke, and a million miles away from what Holmes is really about.

Admittedly, I shouldn’t really be commenting as I haven’t actually seen the film yet.  But I can certainly get the gist of it from all the pre-publicity and it’s not exactly making me want to rush out and get a ticket.  Take the review last Sunday in the Mail, it summed up my fears pretty well.

Despite describing the first film as ‘close to brilliant’, reviewer Matthew Bond raises concerns about this film’s ‘anything goes’ humour – ‘so we have 21st Century vernacular being parachuted jarringly into the London of 1891.  “You’re the one with no friends,” Watson accuses Holmes at one point, “Shirley No Mates.”’  Other examples Bond mentions are – Mycroft in the buff, Holmes escaping on a Shetland pony, Holmes and Watson dancing together at a diplomatic ball.

Bond further sums up my concerns with the line – ‘The damage this sort of cavalier approach does to the underlying Holmes franchise is incalculable.’  My worry is that Ritchie has turned Holmes into a comedy figure, lowered the tone.  All those young boys and men who love the film – who laugh their socks off at all the gags and marvel at the dramatic action, will be very disappointed if they ever read one of the original stories because it is so very different.

I’m certainly not saying that the traditional approach is the only way to portray Holmes, I absolutely love BBC’s Sherlock and my own novel which involves Sherlock Holmes is pretty controversial in parts, but this is done with a lighter touch, a greater sensitivity than this block-busting, commercial romp.

In the spirit of fairness (well, it is Christmas) I have to admit that my step-sons absolutely love the Ritchie films and think I’m completely mad for not ‘getting it’.  And Matthew Bond did have positive things to say – describing Jarred Harris’s performance as ‘outstanding’ in the role of Moriarty and Jude Law as ‘excellent’ playing Watson.  I personally think that using Stephen Fry in the role of Mycroft is inspired casting too.

And yes, I am a bit jealous (well, a lot actually) that Guy Ritchie was able to use his star-power to bring to fruition his concept and get it distributed on such a massive scale while I struggle to even get my novel mentioned in the Birmingham Mail, let alone the Daily Mail.

Will I be going to see the film?  Well, probably, and I will try to keep an open mind.  Who knows, I might actually love it and eat my words.  Well, that will make a change from all the festive food I’ll be eating over the next week.  At least words are calorie free . . .

My novel Barefoot on Baker Street has now been published. Here are some of the ways you can purchase it.

You can order my book in America here.

You can purchase the American Kindle version here

You can order my book in the UK here.

You can purchase the UK Kindle version here.

About barefootonbakerstreet

Author from Shropshire
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10 Responses to ‘Bigger, Better, Funnier’ – if I see that poster one more time . . .

  1. Larry Feldman says:

    I am afraid that I don’t agree. Your take on the movie is correct, but the REAL Sheflock Holmes stories are flying off the shelves. More people are being exposed to the Sherlockian Canon than ever, and I have yet to hear a complaint. Mr. Bond need not worry, the “franchise” has never been stronger. There is more Sherlock Holmes material out there than EVER, though, admittedly, of varying quality. I understand your concern about people being “disappointed” with the Canon if they expect it to be more like the Ritchie films, but you really have to have faith in the material. Quality will win out. I am sure that, due to this movie, you will sell more of your books than you otherwise might have.

    • vikash tiwari says:

      bt these type of experiments will destroy the real feeling that once bought people out of their homes for this hypothetical character.. We hv to maintain holmes’s as well as arthur conan doyle’s dignity. Modifications are gd do it as the bbc has done in sherlock series..

    • I do conceed that the films have increased interest in the character greatly, and yes perhaps we are all selling more books off the back of this. However, I wonder if this is just a short-term trend and whether the films might have a detrimental effect in the long term. Who knows? I’m certainly not saying that I am right about the films as it is all a matter of personal taste really, but I just feel uncomfortable with the direction Ritchie is taking Holmes into, eroding his dignity I feel.

  2. vikash tiwari says:

    i agree with u infact i thought the
    same for the first part also..being
    intelligent and having gd
    presence of mind is one thing nd
    being humours is other..this shuld
    b pointed out at mass level
    otherwise we will loss the
    cool,austure,nd firm figure of
    holmes for a dancing nd
    romancng humours clwon.
    Mr guy has taken too much liberty
    on holmes sometimes merry
    pranks, he has shaped the plot well
    nd indeed had made holmes more
    famous bt hw on earth can he
    compromise with holmes’s
    charisma..he has to re read
    holmes
    nd other works of sir arthur
    conan doyle.

  3. Leah Guinn says:

    I agree with you, too, Charlotte, although I always feel like I should be more open-minded. I like the Ritchie films. I’ve seen the first one 6 times, as a matter of fact, and the second one twice (the end scene between Holmes and Moriarty covers a multitude of earlier sins). But although they’re enjoyable, the fact that they make Holmes into a ridiculous figure realllllllllllly bothers me. He was a serious person….who took himself seriously….and while he did have a sense of humour, and Watson could poke at him, he wasn’t a nutjob, and he most certainly was not an enfant terrible. I see this in some fanfic, too, esp in the Sherlock group, and it bothers me. But, yes, it does mean more Holmes in the bookstores, and a greater audience all around, so I’m sure it’s all for good in the end. I’m just glad I’m not alone in feeling uncomfortable about it.

    • You are right, Holmes was not a ridiculous figure. He was eccentric and prone to extremes of behaviour but not in a slap-stick, silly way. But as I haven’t seen the film yet I can’t really comment with any authority, it’s just a gut reaction to the posters, trailers etc. And my gut is telling me that the tone of the film is all wrong. But as you say, we should be open-minded and I too feel like i’m being judgemental. But then, like you say, it bothers me and there is something uncomfortable about this portrayal.

  4. I absolutely agree. The movies don’t do anything for me. In fact, the 2009 film was largely responsible that I didn’t touch anything SH-related any more for almost two years. The film was such a disappointment, but everybody around me seemed to love it and I thought that maybe it was I who just had fallen out of love and just couldn’t appreciate Sherlock Holmes any more. That did break my heart a bit, seeing that I have been a fan since I read the stories first as a teenager. I didn’t even watch ‘Sherlock’ when the first season originally aired due that and only stumbled over it by accident much later. Fortunately! Such a difference! It made me fall in love with Sherlock Holmes all over again/even deeper.
    I saw the second Guy Ritchie film last week, but I can only bear it when I pretend that it isn’t really Sherlock Holmes. And in the end, it isn’t. What RDJ does on-screen is a parody of the brilliant detective that we all love – at most. Nothing more. And it makes me sad, especially seeing how many fans the films do have, people who most likely will be very disappointed when they pick up the canon, Granada or any of the other films/shows, because they’re all so vastly different.
    Anyway, I should find ‘Barefoot on Baker Street’ under the Christmas tree this year and I can’t tell you how much I look forward to reading it! I have been curious about it since I read about it first and soon it will be mine! Yay!
    Merry Christmas to you! Try not to let your holidays be spoiled by that. It’s not worth it!

    • Dear Christina, merry Christmas to you! I hope you did find a Barefoot under your Christmas tree and that you will enjoy it very much. It is not a traditional Holmes pastiche but please believe that I am a genuine Holmes fan and have tried to use evidence in the canon as much as possible to create something different but sensitive. I hope it won’t be a disappointment for you like the films have been, as you obviously have a deep love for Sherlock Holmes and his world. Do feel free to let me know what you think and it would be great if you could take a picture of your copy for ‘Barefoot Around the World’. Just email to barefootonbakerstreet@hotmail.co.uk

      Thanks again and have a lovely day!

      • Thank you very much, Charlotte! Much to my delight, Barefoot is indeed mine now (the photo will follow once I posted this). Now I just need to find some time and peace to enjoy it, but seeing that I’m on vacation for the week and that my son will be in London starting with tomorrow, I should find it 🙂

        Actually, I’ve never cared much for pastiches, I have to admit. Most of them just don’t interest me all that much, but your book just spoke to me and arose my curiosity. The idea is very intriguing and I have a hard time to imagine that I will end up being disappointed.

        I have also followed your 56 stories in 56 days (a wonderful challenge! I have plans to re-read and review the stories as well, but I won’t even try to set myself a deadline/limit. I will never be able to stick to such a tight schedule, so you definitely have my admiration) and I found myself agreeing with a lot of your points. So, considering all that, I’m pretty sure that I will enjoy your book a lot! 🙂

        I hope you had a lovely Christmas season and will have a great start into the New Year!

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