Charming Brown makes ‘Enola Holmes’ worth a watch

Millie Bobby Brown in Enola Holmes / Netflix

Sherlock isn’t the only Holmes capable of fronting a movie.

His precocious younger sister more than holds her own in the new Netflix release “Enola Holmes” thanks to a winning performance by Millie Bobby Brown, the bright young co-star of “Stranger Things.”

The movie is adapted from the young-adult book series “The Enola Holmes Mysteries” by Nancy Springer, and if this film is a hit, it’s likely just the first of several performances by Brown as the 16-year-old sleuth, who finds herself on her own after her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter) goes missing.

Enola is the younger sister of master sleuth Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and stuffy government official Mycroft Holmes (Sam Claflin) from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s mystery novels and short stories. Cavill’s portrayal of Sherlock is more genial than most takes on the character, while Claflin’s fussbudget Mycroft is so stodgy, the character is almost played for laughs.

That said, Brown is clearly the star of the film, and she does a fine job of carrying the bulk of the film, which in an odd sort of way reminded me very much of Hayley Mills’ performance in the 1960 version of “Pollyanna,” just with more action and adventure in the mix.

Brown, who also served as a producer of the movie, gives a fun and entertaining performance as the title character. She reportedly grew up a fan of the of Springer’s novels, and it was her idea to have Enola break the fourth wall throughout the film, speaking directly to the audience. With a twinkle in her eyes and expressive facial gestures, she pull it off endearingly well.

While attempting to find her missing mom, Eudora meets young Viscount Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge), who is on the run from a plot to kill him that involves a vote in House of Lords over a Reform Bill. At first Tewkesbury seems to be a nuisance, but gradually he grows on Enola.

The film, gorgeously shot by Giles Nuttgens, is sumptuous to watch, but with all the twists and turns of the tale, it grows a bit long in the tooth with a running time of just over two hours. Director Harry Bradbeer would have had a smoother-running film if he could have found a way to tighten the screws just a little bit, but the charismatic performance by Brown made the film more than bearable despite it being a bit too long for its own good.

The movie was set to open in theaters last spring as a Warner Bros. release, but the closures due to COVID-19 prompted the sale to Netflix. Brown’s performance was so charming that I’d be eager to watch a sequel, but who knows if that’s in the cards with the movie industry still being upside down because of the virus. A Netflix series might be fun if a sequel can’t be worked out.

(PG-13) 2 hr. 3 min.
Grade: B-

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Classic Corner – Halloween comes early

Halloween comes a month early at the 112 Drive In with a horror-filled double feature this Friday and Sunday. On tap are two of the better horror flicks of the 1980s with “The Lost Boys” from 1987 and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” from 1984.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Personally slasher films aren’t my taste in horror, but as a teen in the 1980s, I saw many of them with friends on cable TV and even in the theater. Most aren’t worth the strain on my brain to remember, but the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” qualifies as a classic film regardless of the genre.

I’d think most at some point of the other has had the odd feeling of being trapped in a dream. You know you’re dreaming, but you just can’t seem to wake up. Director Wes Craven expertly plays on that phenomena in his relentlessly scary but still somewhat humorous classic, featuring the burnt-alive, switch-blade gloved dream invader Freddy Kruger, exquisitely portrayed by Robert Englund.

Give Craven and Englund credit for hitting all the right notes with the movie that’s scary, thrilling and funny all at the same time. Craven further developed that tone with his direction of “Scream” in 1996.

The Lost Boys

“The Lost Boys” falls into my sweet spot for horror as an almost lifelong fan of Universal horror movies. The film is in many ways a modernization and a slightly satiric play on “Dracula,” updating the Victorian vampire story for the 1980s with a gang of street-tough, punk-rocking, motor-cycle riding blood-suckers led by the enigmatic David (Kiefer Sutherland).

Jason Patric may play the lead performer in the film as Michael (a Jonathan Harker type if you know the novel or some of the films), but Sutherland gives the starring performance as the menacing David, who just oozes a dark charisma. Corey Haim is at his charming best as Michael’s little brother Sam, and Diane Weist is splendidly daffy as their mother Lucy.

The movie borrows generously from author Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” and the numerous film adaptations of the novel, but director Joel Shumacher makes the old story seem fresh by modernizing bits and pieces of the basic story. The film features a twist at the end that astute viewers might see coming, but it’s still quite fun, even if the plot turn is expected.

The movie also features Corey Feldman as one half of a teenaged vampire-hunting duo, who are supposed to be brothers but look absolutely nothing alike.

The movie’s not exactly scary, but there are a few gross-out moments that are as fun as they are scary.

While “A Nightmare on Elm Street” is by far the scarier and perhaps the superior film, “The Lost Boys” hits my sweet spot for horror.