He’s no relation to the Holmes clan, but when he was 13, Abe Applebaum solved the case of the missing fundraiser money. He was such a good little sleuth the townspeople celebrated his successes and rewarded him with his own office. He was the toast of the town, beloved by all, his parents impressed by his initiative, the newspaper chronicling his triumphs, but then he got a case he couldn’t solve. A young girl named Grace went missing and Abe couldn’t find her.
It was an unfair burden to put on a 13 year old kid. The townspeople never said as much, not directly, but young Abe knew what they expected, and he felt the weight of their disappointment when he wasn’t able to crack the only case that really mattered.
Now Abe (Adam Brody) is in his 30s, still working out of the same office the town bequeathed him as a kid detective. He’s occasionally contracted to find missing cats or track down secret admirers, but there isn’t much money in it, and his parents are both embarrassed for him and tired of supporting him. He drinks to numb the self-pity but the hangovers leave him even more despondent. At least until a wildly optimistic high school student hires him to find out who brutally murdered her boyfriend.
I had very few expectations for this film so colour me surprised when I actually quite liked it (what IS the colour of surprise?). It was genuinely funny, it poked fun at the genre and at itself, it felt fresh and unexpected. Brody was well-cast and entirely believable as a man-boy who hasn’t left behind his childhood obsessions. The film struggles tonally, swinging between banter-y, smart-alecky comedy and the sobering facts of an actual murder investigation, which Abe is very much unqualified to conduct. But this guy’s had a cloud hanging over him for the past 20 years and if there’s a chance at a silver lining, he’s going whip out the old deerstalker and oversized magnifying glass and work this case like his life depends on it. And maybe it does.