Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Without a Clue (1988)

Without a Clue offers viewers a great title and story idea.

It's too bad the film itself is just OK.

This 1988 effort from director Thom Eberhardt (Gross Anatomy) suggests famed British detective Sherlock Holmes is really Reginald Kincaid (Michael Caine). When it comes to solving crime, he's totally clueless. Instead, the washed-up actor focused his energies on booze, women and gambling. He especially likes his liquid refreshments.


Dr. John Watson (Ben Kingsley) is the real brains behind this crime-fighting operation. He created Holmes as a ruse when he was trying to land a prestigious medical position. Watson deduced the hiring committee wouldn't think much about a doctor writing detective stories.

His creation has worked all-too-well. Everyone loves Holmes. The press eagerly await his bon mots for their stories. Pub attendees want to buy him a drink. Civic officials love the chance to shake his hand. Watson gets no love.

Frustrated by Kincaid's latest bumbling, Watson gives him the boot. But Holmes doesn't remain outcast for long.

Lord Smithwick (Nigel Davenport) is in urgent need of the great detective's help. Arch-villain Professor James Moriarty (Paul Freeman) plans to flood England with phony five-pound notes. His counterfeit spree will ruin the country's economy.

Kincaid, very well-aware of Moriarty's evil ways, is less than enthused with what's supposed to be his final case.


Without a Clue's best moments come with humour that wouldn't be out-of-place in Airplane or The Naked Gun! Doors fly open and smack people. Hooch is kept stashed in a secret hiding place in a bookshelf.

Problem is, there's just not enough really funny jokes in this film's 107 minutes. That's a crime.

RATING: 6/10

FUN FACTS: Paul Freeman appeared in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Wow. Lysette Anthony, who catches Caine's eye as Leslie Giles, appeared in Canadian rock singer Bryan Adams' video for Reckless in 1983.

Keeping with the Bryan Adams strand, Harold Mayor is Lord Mayor Gerald Fitzwalter Johnson in Without a Clue. He was Bishop of Hereford in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Adams sang that film's theme song, a tune that still grates on this movie-goer, Everything I Do (I Do for You). I'd like to thank the chap who lived above me in London, Ont., who set that song on repeat play for hours beginning in the middle of the night circa 1993.

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