A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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.
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some smoking and two alcoholic drinks -- one of which is poisoned.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sherlock Jr. 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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
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.