Young Sherlock Holmes
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that perils in this young-adult Sherlock Holmes drama
include threats of the heroine being sacrificially turned into an
Egyptian-style mummy, and kids being strangled and run through with swords. There's some potential nightmare imagery for young viewers -- scenes of demonic entities
and rotting zombies; it's made clear that these are only hallucinations, but
the chills are still vividly rendered. Young Watson tries tobacco smoking.
What's the story?
In a boys' school in Victorian-era England, two
students encounter each other who are destined to be illustrious
crimefighting partners in adulthood, the teenage Sherlock Holmes (Nicholas
Rowe), who is already a genius at logical deduction, and the pudgy
adolescent James Watson. Holmes' braininess is renown among the kids and
faculty, but that only makes him an easier target when a resentful
classmate frames Holmes for cheating on an exam. Meanwhile, a number of
aged London men have been dying under weird circumstances, in hysterics
from occultish hallucinations. When this bizarre curse strikes the
school's retired headmaster, Holmes sneaks back onto the grounds and
prowl's London's dark corners to solve the mystery, with Watson's
Is it any good?
YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES came out under the auspices of Steven
Spielberg's production company, when other Hollywood directors were
signing on to do Spielberg-like fantasies with the finest possible casts,
imagination, and special effects. The title alone suggested a
can't-miss property. And yet for all the high hopes, Young Sherlock Holmes
unfurls disappointingly, like old Indiana Jones. Yes, there's an elementary
change in scenery and accents, but the cliffhanger stunts, cartoonish
foreigners, black-magic stuff (all the more inconsequential because we
find out it's all delusions), ludicrous temple-of-doom that, just like the
Death Star, comes complete with a convenient self-destruct mode -- it
doesn't take a you-know-who to deduce it was all swiped from other
Lucas-Spielberg 1980s blockbusters.
Scriptwriter Chris Columbus was later
to make the first few Harry Potter movies, and the early school scenes
(complete with a Draco Malfoy-lookalike antagonist) do have a nice flavor
and potential, before the hand-me-down thrill rides and the way-silly
revenge scheme at the center of the mystery take over. Young Sherlock
Holmes not an awful movie; it just should have been so much better. Case
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the idea of Sherlock Holmes as a boy. How well is it
done here? This movie suggests that Holmes' intellect and penchant for
crime-solving backfired -- when he busted his own father for some unspecified
offense. Is being this brilliant a help or a hindrance for a kid? You might
compare Young Sherlock Holmes to other stories that portray youthful
mystery-solvers, including the "Encyclopedia Brown" series, and Eye of the Crow, Death in the Air, and other recent YA novels by
Shane Peacock that try to depict (in far more depth than this film) the
troubled childhood of Conan Doyle's great sleuth.