A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, like its predecessor, this entertaining Sherlock Holmes adventure is filled with several scenes of action violence and mayhem. Though the fight scenes are very choreographed and stylized, they're bone-crunching and often brutal. And the slo-mo effects sometimes make the anticipation of the impact almost worse than the impact itself. Knives, guns, and bombs are all in use; there's also one scene of torture and a suicide. There's also a fair bit of innuendo, one scene of a naked man from behind, some mild language ("bastard" and "damn), pipe smoking, and social drinking. Holmes (again played by Robert Downey Jr.) dons women's clothing in one sequence.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
The world has gone mad. Bombs are going off in Strasbourg and Vienna, an American mogul has dropped dead, and a prince has committed suicide. The events may seem random, a cacophony of chaos. But as the intrepid and eccentric detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) soon discovers, there's a brilliant and masterful villain on the loose: Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris). And he's not just after power and wealth: He's after Holmes. He's also gunning for Holmes' right-hand man, Dr. John Watson (Jude Law), who's just gotten married but may not be quite retired from sleuthing.
Is it any good?
How can this franchise not be entertaining with the talented Robert Downey Jr. playing a historically fascinating lead (and Law as a gutsy Watson)? The film even looks entertaining: The tableau is drained of color, etched in charcoal, but still very stylized, which fits director Guy Ritchie's signature. He's assured another hit.
But is it great? Perhaps expectations are raised too high, but it feels like the bloom of the movie's specific visual and storytelling style is fading a bit. Ritchie's swift deconstruction of Holmes' thought process seem wasted on what-if situations instead of on actual detective work. And, yes, the bromance between Holmes and Watson is charming, but it's clear when Holmes faces Moriarty that the movie hungers for more of that type of confrontation. It's an iconic match-up, and it's too bad we don't spend much time with it and Holmes' other misadventures. Let the master detective detect!
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the new Sherlock Holmes movies' take on the famous detective compares to previous ones. Why do you think the filmmakers decided to up the action and violence in these films?
Why does Watson put up with Holmes' shenanigans, especially when they interfere with his relationship to his betrothed?
How does this film handle its good-versus-evil theme? Are the good and bad sides always clearly defined? Is that important?
- In theaters: December 16, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: June 12, 2012
- Cast: Jared Harris, Jude Law, Robert Downey Jr.
- Director: Guy Ritchie
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship
- Run time: 129 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of violence and action, and some drug material
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love action thrillers
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.