In Without A Clue, a Sherlock Holmes spoof directed by Thom Eberhardt, it's Dr. John Watson (Ben Kingsley) who's the brains of the operation. Sherlock Holmes, as it turns out, is a creation of Watson's mind – and he has hired actor Reginald Kincaid (Michael Caine) to play the part in public. There are two problems, however. Kincaid is, in fact, an unintelligent and rarely sober buffoon; and the general populace thinks Holmes is an absolute genius, never giving any credit to Dr. Watson.
Watson hopes that the latest case to fall into their laps – one involving the counterfeiting of 5-note bills – will finally prove to the world that he is the true crime-solver. However, a showdown with his arch nemesis Professor Moriarty (Raiders of the Lost Ark's Paul Freeman) leaves Watson missing and presumed dead, and it's up to Holmes to use what he has learned from Watson over the years and finally solve a case on his own.
Without A Clue is a decent comedy – one that despite poking fun at the Holmes legend, is still quite reverent and respectful of it. The best part of the movie is the first half, where Holmes plays stupid while Watson becomes increasingly frustrated that he's not getting any of the credit. Where the film falls apart is in the last half hour, where the filmmakers felt the need to finish up with a big (and somewhat too slapstick) action sequence that pits Holmes and Watson against Moriarty and his henchmen.
Somewhat shockingly, this MGM release is not anamorphic, nor is it even letterboxed – giving us a pan and scan version of the movie in the full-frame format. As if this weren't bad enough, the transfer isn't particularly good either – with a very soft look, a lack of color (although this may have more to do with the original look of the film), and hints of both grain and dirt on the picture. Since the chances are slim that this movie will ever be re-released on the DVD format with an updated version, the lack of anamorphic widescreen is very disappointing, to say the least.
The audio is 2.0 Dolby, and not very aggressive or noteworthy. Even toward the end of the movie, where there is a large explosion and some action, there's not much happening as far as the audio goes. The audio isn't poor enough to cause a distraction, but like the video, I was really disappointed with what was provided here.
Other than a chapter selection and a subtitle option (English, French or Spanish), the only extra on this DVD is the original Theatrical Trailer for the film.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I think it's obvious from the content that MGM is hoping to get a few rentals out of this release, and not much more. Even most bare bones releases these days at least take the time for an anamorphic transfer – but we don't even get that on the Without a Clue disc. The movie itself is worth a look if you haven't seen it, and does provide a number of good laughs. But unless you're a huge fan of the movie and don't already own it on VHS, I would stick with a rental on this one.