review for The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother on AllMovie

The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975)
by Craig Butler review

With such a very promising idea and such an exceptionally talented comic cast, it's a shame that The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother doesn't turn out to be a much better film. This is especially true due to the fact that there are a couple of moments when Brother is screamingly funny, and another half dozen when it at least approaches the brink of being screamingly funny. There are also a good number of chuckles, one or two guffaws, and a handful of giggles. Unfortunately, there is also more than a fair share of groaners, as well as unfortunate stretches where every joke just falls flat. This would matter a little less if the story that surrounds these jokes and would-be jokes were stronger, or at least more cohesive. That is definitely not the case, as Brother has a screenplay that seems to have been created with "slapdash" in mind. Unlike better Mel Brooks efforts, which it very clearly resembles, Brother doesn't know how to lay a strong, solid foundation on which to base its hopefully wild excursions into humor. Writer Gene Wilder also suffers from the work of director Gene Wilder, who doesn't know how to properly shape the scenes and how to save them in the editing room. As a result, scenes meander, lose their focus or go on too long, dissipating their comic impact. Fortunately, writer/director Gene Wilder is saved by actor Gene Wilder and by a sterling cast that does wring every possible ounce of humor out of the script. Madeline Kahn is in peerless form, Marty Feldman and Wilder demonstrate the same chemistry they shared in Young Frankenstein, and Leo McKern and Dom DeLuise provide robust support. It's a shame The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother isn't more successful, but it's worth watching for its cast (at all times) and for those moments when things really do come together and create the kind of inspired zaniness that is all too rare.