A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this genial spoof has some dirty-joke humor, including some groping and two shots of male bare butts. If released today, it might get a very light PG-13 -- nothing Austin Powers smutty, though. There are a few swear words and violence that is pretty much unrealistic slapstick.
What's the story?
In foggy 1891 London, it turns out there are two consulting detectives named S. Holmes -- the illustrious Sherlock (Douglas Wilmer), and his estranged, furiously jealous younger brother Sigurson (Gene Wilder). When a scandalous diplomatic document is stolen, one of the parties involved is the evil Professor Moriarty (Leo McKern), afflicted with a nervous compulsion to do something really, really mean every 24 minutes. Sherlock decides to deceive the master villain by pretending to leave town, handing the case over to Sigurson, along with a pretty music-hall songstress (Madeline Kahn) who lies about practically everything, and a messenger-sidekick (Marty Feldman) with a "photographic sense of hearing."
Is it any good?
Gene Wilder made his directing debut here with a genre farce that, like Young Frankenstein, shows respect and real affection for the material being burlesqued, not just anything-goes yucks. Though gags are uneven -- a horse-carriage fight scene using a giant fake hand vs. giant fake shoe is hilarious; a reference to the classic short story "The Lady or the Tiger?" is merely odd -- and the plot just sort of turns into confetti after a while, there's a consistent sense of fun throughout. Despite a few naughty bits, teens should jam to the infectious, let's-put-on-a-show enthusiasm (occasionally the cast bursts into a loony dance number, the "Kangaroo Hop"), not to mention the built-in empathy factor for younger brothers everywhere. Deductive logic, an essential part of the Sherlock stories, is strangely absent. Yet one hardly notices.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the inferiority-complex problem Sigurson has with his brother Sherlock. Can any of your family members relate?
What kind of humor is this? What other movies does it remind you of? What kinds of things make you laugh?
What do kids know about Sherlock Holmes? How can you find out more?
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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.