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Director Guy Ritchie‘s Sherlock Holmes is full of new revelations about the old British sleuth whose exploits were based on the great Encyclopedia Brown.

For one, the movie teaches, Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) was a Mixed Martial Arts fighter. He was really into fighting, you see, and one could even argue that he enjoyed karate-cising some giant, blood-pudding-fed Cockney arse in subterranean fight clubs even more so than he did piecing together clues in a manner he copied off CSI: Miami.

Also, Holmes was the consummate crotch-blocker, extremely possessive over his bro-mance mate, Watson (Jude Law). The great detective would constantly whine and make snippy comments, working at every turn to derail Watson’s chances of getting into any between-sheets chamber dramas. Not cool, dude.

In sum, Holmes was a riot to be around, and would have fit nicely in the double-crossing, skull-crushing casts of Snatch or Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He spends most of his time just being smart and rockin’ out, getting stoned and doing weird experiments in his basement. The guy knew how to have a good time, and knew how to compartmentalize. Just as Drew and Whoopi had boys on the side, Sherlock had crime investigations on the backburner. As a result, this is the first non-stuffy Sherlock I’ve seen, and the one the least obsessed with crime-solving.

Which is all well and good, because the silly “mystery” at the center of the movie is by far the lamest part, involving a parliament member who claims supernatural powers. Really, it’s Scooby-Doo stuff, complete with the monologue ending that explains the obvious and ludicrous alike. It’s as though Ritchie and Downey just jam the plot in there at a bare minimum, as if fulfilling a homework assignment. This should be referred to as “Sherlock Holmes 1,” because the ending isn’t so much an ending as a transition to a sequel. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of the same, especially if it keeps Downey cracking wise and Ritchie making period dramedies, when his filmmaking skills have somehow recovered from a decadelong slump.

As to why that is, that’s a mystery not even Encyclopedia Brown could tackle.

Phil Villarreal’s humorous money-saving book, “Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel,” is available on Amazon.

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