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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
There are some power-hungry, murderous villains on the loose in London, and the city itself is presented as a fairly brutal, gritty environment. But the film also celebrates Holmes' eccentric genius and his close friendship with Watson. Though he's a cantankerous soul, Holmes clearly values his friend and even tries to save a former paramour despite the fact that she once double-crossed him.
Positive Role Models
They trade barbs and are feisty with each other, but Holmes and Watson always fight for the good -- and for each other. That said, they're so intent on capturing villains that they sometimes sacrifice their personal lives. Irene is a strong, capable female character, but she's also manipulative and self-serving.
Violence & Scariness
Frequent violence, including gunplay, bloody fistfights (some in slow-motion, detailing each painful blow in wince-inducing fashion), and a few big explosions. Guns, knives, a rudimentary Taser, and poison are used in various face-offs; corpses are displayed (in dirt with maggots visible, singed to a crisp after being engulfed in flames, dead in bathtub water). Men are shown hanging from a noose; a woman nearly stabs herself. Animal carcasses are shown hanging and sawed in half; a frog is shown in mid-dissection; dead rats are seen.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A man is briefly shown naked and handcuffed to a bed, with only a pillow covering his private parts. He makes a suggestive sexual comment to the chamber maid. Some flirty banter between former lovers, and a few quick kisses exchanged between them. A woman undresses; her naked back is glimpsed.
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Very little; extremely infrequent uses of words like "damn" and "hell."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Holmes sometimes drinks to excess (and he isn't always picky about what he drinks to get there); characters drink wine at a restaurant; Holmes smokes a pipe.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sherlock Holmes is director Guy Ritchie's take on the famous literary/cinematic detective legend. It stars Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams and presents an earthier, brawnier, and glossier version of the story than most of us are used to ... which is exactly why teens will love it. Gritty, late-1800s London is the movie's backdrop, and there's no shortage of action -- from brutal, slo-mo fistfight scenes (most with blood and broken bones) to gunplay and big explosions. There are also some fairly gory crime scenes (including shots of dead bodies, one with a few wriggling maggots), a brief scene of a naked (aside from a strategically placed pillow) Holmes handcuffed to a bed, references to the dark rituals of occult secret societies, smoking, and drinking. But there's no swearing to speak of, and the movie ultimately celebrates Holmes and Watson's close friendship. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is entertaining, elementary fun. Guy Ritchie's film is ostensibly about a detective, but in this version, it's also about two buddies who've had a lifetime of adventure, making the friendship between Holmes and Watson seem both believable and relatable. Downey Jr. and Law are entertaining to watch, standing shoulder to shoulder; Law's Watson, in fact, is no sidekick here. Though Downey Jr.'s Holmes is clearly the genius, Watson is no afterthought -- and the film is so much better for that. And yet ...
Sherlock Holmes has the sooty, gritty look and feel of bygone London, and Ritchie, no surprise, brings out the franchise's pugnacious side. (And make no mistake, it wants to be a franchise -- the movie leaves off where a sequel could handily pick right up.) Yet although we appreciate the shot of adrenaline that the director of far-edgier movies like RocknRolla and Snatch brings to the Holmes legend, Ritchie seems to have decided to film a superhero movie instead. The quick cuts and frequent action sequences are photographed like an 1890s version of Iron Man. And Downey's 'do (and we may literally be splitting hairs here) feels out of place, as do some of the dialogue and other camerawork.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.