Sherlock Jr. Movie Poster Image

Sherlock Jr.

Clever, fun-filled intro to silent movies (with subtitles).
Parents recommend
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1924
  • Running Time: 44 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

The film in itself is a piece of history. Kids can think about how silent films were made, and what the difficulties were in staging an intricate chase scene and the film's dream sequence with none of the tools movie makers have today. They can also see how an old movie projector works. Of course, this is also an homage to Sherlock Holmes.

Positive messages

Stealing and lying don't pay off in the end; the truth will come out, whether it's through the shrewdness of an iconic figure like Sherlock Holmes or the simple sleuthing of a girl who's sure her boyfriend is innocent.

Positive role models

Buster Keaton's character is the kind of man who, when a movie patron claims to have lost a dollar, he gives away one of his. He wants to impress his girl, though, so he pretends to spend more on a gift.

Violence & scariness

A car chase and crash with guns firing, a long sequence with a runaway moped dodging traffic and trains, and a run along the top of a train. Sherlock's adversaries attempt to poison his drink, plant a bomb on the pool table, and booby-trap a chair with a falling ax. A detective is shown tied up by thieves. Oh and of course, a slip on a banana peel.

Sexy stuff

Hand-holding and an innocent kiss between Keaton's character and his date. Slightly more passionate kisses in the movie-within-a-movie, shown far away.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some smoking and two alcoholic drinks -- one of which is poisoned.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a wonderful introduction to silent films for kids, though there is some reading involved, which makes it less appealing for very young kids. At 44 minutes, the story flies by with plenty of action, including chase scenes with some gunfire and a funny runaway moped scene where Sherlock doesn't know his driver fell off miles and miles back. In the quieter moments there's a bit of romance with a couple kisses and a lesson about truth willing out, but for the most part the story moves quickly and is full of surprises to keep young viewers' attention.

What's the story?

A humble projectionist visiting his girlfriend is framed by another suitor for a stolen pocket watch. Unfortunately the detective how-to manual he reads incessantly is no help as he's thrown out on the street. Back at the movie theater he falls asleep on the job and dreams himself into the on-screen movie and the role of Sherlock Holmes. As Sherlock, he's onto the jewel thieves right under his nose and cleverly spoils their nefarious plots against him. Meanwhile the projectionist's girlfriend does her own sleuthing to try to clear his name.

Is it any good?


Even viewers who normally don't seek out silent movies or classics in general are in for a treat. SHERLOCK JR. is clever, charming, inventive, and full of surprises. There's so much packed into 44 minutes, it's hard to believe that there's a movie within a movie and a love story and a frame-up and it all ties together and makes perfect sense with just the occasional pithy caption.

The runaway moped scene had to take so much planning and careful direction. To say nothing of the effort it must have taken to make Keaton's dream-self rise up from the sleeping projectionist and climb into the movie on the screen below -- look Ma, no CGI. This is creative filmmaking at its finest.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about silent movies. What did you expect going in? Were any parts surprising? Did you ever forget you were watching a silent film and just get into the story?

  • Families can also talk about technology and filmmaking. Buster Keaton didn't have any of the tools we have today and still managed to make the action exciting. Do you think not relying on technology somehow made this filmmaker more inventive? Or do you think he was limited by the lack of CGI and other effects common today?

Movie details

DVD/Streaming release date:April 21, 1924
Cast:Buster Keaton, Joe Keaton, Kathryn McGuire
Director:Buster Keaton
Character strengths:Curiosity
Run time:44 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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Parent Written byReviewQueen September 7, 2011

Sherlock Jr.

This movie is a gem! It saddens me that silent films aren't appreciated like they should be. Buster Keaton does a phenomenal job, without the help of today's cinematic 'magic' Younger children may not enjoy having to read the movie, but the story is enough to enchant anyone.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Educator and Parent of a 2 and 3 year old Written bymeandmy2littles November 13, 2014

Silent movie gold!

Buster Newton is just amazing. The dream sequence is this movie is fantastic! Makes me sad that silent movies are largley overlooked these days. Please introduce your children to the wonderful world of silent films!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Educator and Parent of an infant and 1 year old Written byMommaOfTwoo November 20, 2012

The Game is On Watson!

Buster Keaton was truly amazing! Sherlock Jr. is one of those phenomenal movies that every person should see. Movies of the silent genre aren't appreciated like they should be anymore. Younger children might not enjoy having to read the movie, but this is truly a classic that should be in every home!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models