Who's In It: Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong
The Basics: Sherlock Holmes and his very close, intimate friend Dr. Watson like to spend lots and lots and lots of time together. Watson fusses over Holmes and keeps him together when he's sad or depressed. All Watson has to do is walk into a room and it makes Holmes's heart do cartwheels and backflips into the air! They like to go have adventures together solving mysteries about ritual Satanic murders. It's just them, two special friends, living, loving, laughing and battling the devil's emissary in 19th century London. But then along comes this lady who wants to take Watson away from Holmes. She's dumb. Hate her.
What's The Deal: Okay that's not the actual plot, just what you'll be thinking every time these two affectionately gaze into each other's eyes. It's actually about the bad Satan-worshipping guy who runs around bellowing, "I'M THE DEVIL'S MAIN BRO!" and scaring everyone witless while Holmes and Watson cleverly gather clues to bring down his evildoing. They also get into major brawls with this or that obstacle-ish bad guy, men twice Downey's size whom he takes down with mechanical precision. Because on director Guy Ritchie's checklist of obsessions, right after revering and then punching holes in the traditionally masculine cement wall of crime-adoring films, he also loves reveling in and distantly observing violence as a way men solve problems. You might just want to skip it if your thing is old-fashioned Holmes, the civilized gentleman tossing off lines like, "It's elementary, Dear Watson." But if you can get with a funny, jumpy, modern re-invention of these characters then you're going to have a great time.
Missing Pieces Of The Puzzle: Well, Rachel McAdams doesn't get a lot of action here, since Ritchie's never been overly concerned with what the women in his movies are doing. And because Holmes's logic is private and labyrinthine, the film can't build on the clues he finds because they're all, by virtue of being discovered by him, obscure markers on a convoluted path. So momentum and suspense are an issue. You're just waiting for the inevitable crime-solving moment. Thankfully, it delivers that moment with humor and and a dizzying pile-up of explanations that you'd have never come up with yourself. Because you're probably not a well-paid screenwriter. And you're definitely not Sherlock Holmes.
You're More Likely To Find That Famous Hat On Sesame Street's Sherlock Hemlock: Right at the beginning there's a fast-paced sequence that includes a blink-and-miss moment involving a hat. And it happens so quickly that you'll be arguing with yourself about whether or not it's even the right kind of hat. And then you forget about it because after that the top of Downey's head mostly resembles Jennifer Aniston's from 1995. As anachronisms go, it's nervy. And fluffy. And features discreet blondish highlights.