Guy Ritchie to Direct Sherlock Holmes

Guy Ritchie is set to direct a postmodern version of _Sherlock Holmes_ starring Robert Downey Jr. and featuring martial arts sequences.

There’s a classic Monty Python skit where Graham Chapman is an American oil baron / film producer explaining his new movie idea to a team of writers. His idea consists of an opening shot in which a dog relieves itself on a tree in the snow. He asks the team what they think and then preceeds to fire them, one by one, for a different arbitrary reason each time, until Terry Jones, out of sheer terror, blurts out "Splonge!". The remaining writers agree that the film is ‘Splonge’ and the producer, spurned on by this non-sensical compliment, proceeds to replace the dog

with Rock Hudson and the tree with Doris day, and so on…

That’s pretty much how I picture the decision making process that gave Guy Ritchie the task of revamping Sherlock Holmes. Maybe the film began life as Shanghai Nights 2 (Or Shanghai Noon 3 I guess) but Owen Wilson grew back some balls and pulled out. The London setting was retained so they needed a London director. Guy Ritchie, whose balls are still owned by Madonna, sheepishly agreed under the condition that it have some cultural import. The producers then scrambled around looking for something to pillage that was in the public domain so they didn’t have to pay or consult any live authors: Sherlock Homes! They could keep the martial arts coreographer because Sherlock mentioned learning a Japanese form of self defence once in one of his many books. The tree becomes Sherlock and the dog becomes Watson, which in turn becomes Robert Downey Jr. and (Russel Crowe!?) respectively.

It all makes sense by some twisted group think logic. A series of independently logical decisions, made in rapid succession, allows an already dubious idea to spiral out of control. This happens all the time in the strange parallel universe of Hollywood, which in my mind, increasingly resembles the irrational nightmare of Mullholland Drive.

Yet all it will take is one independantly minded individual to take the reins and make a great film out of this – either something willfully irreverant and postmodern or respectful of the source material. Maybe its Ritchie or maybe it’s Downey Jr. but someone needs to conceive of a Sherlock Holmes film independently of the boardroom logic that gave it life. And who cares if the end result doesn’t please anyone. I can’t to see what happens either way.

(Also check out the much more reasonable comedy version of Sherlock Holmes starring Will Farrell and Sacha Baron Coen also in the pipeline.)

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