Sherlock, Jr. (1924)

Sherlock Jr poster art

This is fucking EPIC.

There are too many good things to say about Sherlock, Jr. This is the second Buster Keaton feature I’m reviewing. Perhaps I am getting self indulgent? Pish posh! Nonsense! I revel in mindless self indulgence, there can never be enough Buster Keaton, and this is perhaps his greatest work yet! Witness the true master of silent self indulgence, the pimp master suave motherfucka side splitting heart attack inducing laugh attack mastermind.

A mild mannered movie projectionist worker (a job I would love to have) has dreams of becoming a detective. He even has a handy dandy notebook! On how to Become A Detective. He studies it religiously, so much so that it often gets in the way of his duties working at the movie theater, such as cleaning up heaps of trash littered with dollar bills and the wallets of rich and famous bigfoots.

He wants to buy a present for a girl in order to buy her love. He looks fondly at the $3 confectionery, but only has two measly dollars on him. After sweeping through some trash, he finds a dollar! Eureka! He can now afford to buy love with chocolates. Hey, it’s definitely worked before. Before he can go make his purchase, a women comes up and starts rummaging through the trash, like a street bum. She informs him that she lost a dollar, and asks him if he found it. Call me crazy, but I would have told her I had no idea what she was talking about, and kindly went a long my way. But where is the comedy in that? Nowhere! That’s where!

sherlock jr screenshot

I feel the same way.

Reluctantly he gives her a dollar, but not before demanding her to describe it, making damn sure that it’s the exact dollar she’s looking for. She satisfies his demands and he hands it over. Defeated, he goes back to his duties when suddenly another helpless woman comes by telling him that she lost a dollar. Son of a bitch! Buster again reluctantly hands over one of his dollars, being the kind hearted pushover with a conscious that he is.

Suddenly, the bigfoot mentioned earlier makes his appearence. A scary looking, hairy man beast who towers over Buster with a glare that obviously means “get in my belleh”. Buster immediately surrenders at his sight and hands over his last dollar. The man beast asks him what the fuck is his deal, and hands back his dollar, and then digs through the trash, until he finds what he really came for: a fat wallet of crisp hundred dollar bills. The man beast walks away with his prize, as Buster, encouraged by this chain of events, desperately dives into the remaining trash pile looking for more buried treasure. Alas, the loot has already been plundered, and he is out of luck. He settles on buying the $1 confectionery.

But wait! Another asshole is looking to score with his woman, an asshole with an appropriate asshole mustache, who steals the girl’s father’s pocket watch and pawns it off to buy the more expensive $3 confectionery. As this goes on, Buster courts his would be bride with chocolate and awkwardness. Did I mention he used a pencil to change the price on the back of the box from $1 to $4? Yup, girls care about that sort of thing. I would know. The girl exhibits various preening gestures to signal her attraction to our hero, but he’s still awkward and doesn’t know how to properly handle the situation. Finally, she slams down her hand in between them, demanding that he hold her hand. He slams his own hand down on top of theirs, both shocked at the overuse of romantic force. Yup, I’ve been there too!

Sherlock Jr screenshot holding hands

A typical situation for me.

Then asshole mustache comes back with his dirty chocolates and takes over the situation. Buster then slips on a banana peel in good fashion. Take that Mythbusters! Anyways, the man of the house enters and claims that his watch has been stolen. Sherlock Jr. takes his cue and pulls out his handy dandy How-To-Be-A-Detective handbook, which instructs him to search everybody. The mustache spies on him reading the entry, so he ditches his pawn receipt into the pocket of Sherlock to frame him for the theft. After searching everybody, Sherlock himself is searched, and a pawn receipt is discovered. He is promptly casted out from the household.

His detective book tells him to shadow his suspect. He believes he knows who did it, and waiting outside the house for mustache to appear, he does exactly that and shadows him on his walk! The stunt work here makes me wet. No seriously, this is hilariously awesome! You don’t see material like this anymore. Probably because we’ve advanced a good 90 years, but that’s besides the point. I think we’ve regressed a good 90 years, because this is funnier than 95% of the bullshit that’s called comedy nowadays. Yes, I am aware that 89% of statistics are made up on the spot. Go rent/buy and watch this movie now! You’ll do your thick monkey cranium a favor by not being such an attention deficit-ed statistic of your generation.

Soon Buster realizes his detective ambitions are all washed up. He returns to his theater job to slack off some more and fall asleep on the job. As he dreams, Leonardo DiCaprio and his posse arrive on the scene and set up shop, and promptly incept his sleeping ass into… Wait, no. Sorry, that didn’t happen. Instead, he dreams that he is in the movie being played in the theater, and what follows is nothing less than cinematic genius preceding the lesser geniuses of loonies like Quentin Tarantino. He jumps into the movie screen and shifts between different environments, oceans and lions, hilarious and amazing.

sherlock jr screenshot inception

YOU'VE JUST BEEN INCEPTED.

One moment he is sitting on a stool, then next, seamlessly edited, he is almost run over by a train. How did they do that? Today it’s extremely easy to answer the question. They did it with a computer. BORING. No, this was done a good 80 years before computers were able to accomplish any of that. It blows my mind the quality of effects present in this sequence. Buster was truly ahead of his time, and all of you apes should take notice and study the old master.

Eventually, Buster’s dream persona has assumed the role of Sherlock, Jr. The greatest master of criminology. He is tasked to solve the mystery of the stolen pearls, mirroring the plot of his real life situation. He dodges pool balls filled with nitroglycerin and foils the attempts of the thieves to do him in. It’s great, it’s all great. I hate describing a film in so much detail because I believe people should watch it and experience it for themselves instead of having it be read to them. Whatever! His master detective work leads him to the bad guy’s hideout, and the rest of the sequence plays like James Bond on crack. At one point, he jumps through the belly of his partner to escape the criminals chasing after him. How did he do that! Holy shit! The special effects in this film are more entertaining than in Transformers 2. Well, that’s not saying much, but I believe I’ve made my case.

Eventually he jumps onto a motorcycle being piloted by his partner, disguised as a police man. During the ride, his buddy falls off the bike, leaving Sherlock alone on as passenger, oblivious to what has just happened. His bike effortlessly pilots itself through traffic, through a bomb, through a stag party, over bridges and finally into the the house of the villain who stole the pearls. He drop kicks him from his bike and saves the damsel in distress to top it all off. They steal the gangster’s car and drive away as more gangsters show up. Finally, he grabs the explosive pool ball he pocketed much earlier, and throws it into the pursuing car, blowing them all the kingdom come. A rip off of the James Bond theme plays as they victoriously drive into the water.

sherlock jr screenshot motorcycle

This ain't a motorcycle baby it's a chopper!

The mystery has been solved as Buster wakes up in the movie theater, and the girl who he tried to court earlier, comes back to inform him that her family has made a terrible mistake. She went to the pawn shop and found out the identity of the real asshole who stole the watch. Buster’s name is cleared, and in celebration, he watches the movie that’s being shown in the theater to gather tips on how to treat the girl and make his move. The movie ends with babies, and a confused Buster scratching his head at the thought of reliving Eraserhead.

This movie is tits. I don’t care if you hate silent films, think old movies are boring, or you have the attention span of a stoned cockroach. Everyone should see Sherlock, Jr! If not, go back to sleep. Go back to sleep. Go back to sleep. Go back to sleep so Leo can incept you, and make you believe that this film is worth watching. Hell, he already did it to me.

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