The 400-Word Review: Enola Holmes
By Sean Collier
September 26, 2020
The only failure in “Enola Holmes,” a mostly charming caper concerning a plucky young detective who happens to be the kid sister of a certain Sherlock, is its ambition.
The film is an entertaining enough children’s adventure movie — the sort rarely made these days, as the vast majority of family entertainment is now animated. Until about the end of the 20th century, such films would appear regularly — live-action, starring and concerning kids — with no particular desire to ensnare the attention of teen or adult viewers.
These days, though, you have to hit all the demographics. When “Enola Holmes” is a children’s movie, it’s pleasant. When it aims for more, it’s dull.
The title character (Millie Bobby Brown) is an admirer of her famous brother (Henry Cavill), but a distant one; Sherlock is off solving mysteries in London, while she remains at the family home with her equally brilliant mother (Helena Bonham Carter). When Mom disappears one morning, Sherlock returns home — along with the third sibling, a wet blanket named Mycroft (Sam Claflin) who is highly embarrassed by his family’s eccentricities.
Mycroft would like to deposit his younger sister at a finishing school; Enola would prefer to solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. She evades her brothers, hops a train for London and makes the acquaintance of another runaway, Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge), a Lord-in-waiting who has his own family trouble to dodge.
When Enola is unraveling mysteries, squabbling with her young love interest and discoursing with the audience — the film is soaked with direct addresses to the viewer, perhaps a vestige of the young-adult series that is the film’s source material — it’s a breezy and right-minded ramble, precisely the sort of film that parents could happily present to pre-teen children. Enola makes a fine role model; Brown, though slightly overwhelmed by exposition, handles the job ably.
Yet “Enola Holmes” holds a PG-13 rating, seemingly achieved by ham-fisted insertions of moderate violence. It adds nothing to the proceedings and is jarring to see, say, a sudden shotgun blast in an otherwise gentle tale. Clearly, such moments — as well as the theoretical star power of Cavill, who is decidedly overpresent — were meant to trick some viewers into thinking this is an all-ages affair with plenty to offer older viewers.
It’s not. And it would’ve been a better film had it kept that in mind.
My Rating: 6/10
“Enola Holmes” is streaming now on Netflix.