Bringing Up Baby

  • Review Date: May 19, 2003
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1938

Common Sense Media says

Classic screwball comedy with loads of tame laughs.
  • Review Date: May 19, 2003
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1938





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Even the most uptight people, in this case a single-minded scientist who appears to have no room in his life for emotions or pleasure, can learn to live with spontaneity, passion, and joy.

Positive role models

Despite being made and set in the late 1930s, Katherine Hepburn’s feisty, bright independence in this film celebrates women on equal footing with their male counterparts. Though she’s a non-working society “girl,” and occasionally plays helpless, she’s actually strong-willed, competent, and tenacious. As is common in many farcical movies of the era, law enforcement officers are depicted as dense, gullible, and inept.

Violence & scariness

In this “screwball comedy” all action sequences are cartoonish and played for comic effect. A dog and a leopard scuffle on the grass with some growling and incidental biting. Two characters fall and slide down a short precipice. Lots of pratfalls –- slipping, falling, minor car accidents with dented bumpers and fenders, clothing gets torn, chickens escape and run rampant, a young woman hangs from a platform, and a museum dinosaur exhibit crashes to the ground. There’s a case of mistaken identity when a wild leopard is thought to be tame. The leopard bares his fangs, roars. Some non-threatening gun play as the characters try to catch the wild leopard.

Sexy stuff

Flirting, some embracing, a few instances of gentle sexual innuendo. When the male lead is forced to wear a woman’s frilly robe, he ironically asks someone who is gawking at him: “You think I just went gay all of a sudden?”

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A family gardener drinks from a flask each time he appears; his constant tippling is played for humor. Some moderate alcohol consumption during dinner and at some social events.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that while there are a lot of physical misadventures in this madcap comedy there no injuries; and except for a few shots of a roaring, teeth-baring leopard nothing is frightening or threatening in a real way. Characters are clumsy -- fall, bump into walls, drive incompetently, and more. “Baby,” a tame leopard, is confused with a wild leopard which results in some chasing, erratic gun play, and more pratfalls. A character drinks to excess, also as a source of humor. There’s one throwaway reference to going "gay.”

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Shy paleontologist David Huxley (Cary Grant) is hoping for three things: a rare dinosaur bone fossil, a million dollar research grant, and his marriage to colleague Miss Swallow. Madcap heiress Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn), instantly smitten with David when he objects to her playing his golf ball and driving off in his car, manages to disrupt his life completely when she asks him to help her transport a leopard named "Baby" to her aunt's estate in Connecticut. Complications include Susan's dog George taking the irreplaceable bone fossil to bury somewhere, serenading the leopard to get him down from a neighbor's roof, being thrown in jail, confusing Baby with a vicious circus leopard, and the destruction of an entire dinosaur skeleton. David does not ultimately get the million dollars (it turns out that Susan's aunt was the prospective donor), but Susan does, so everyone lives happily ever after, including Baby.

Is it any good?


BRINGING UP BABY is generally considered to be the ultimate example of the screwball comedy, which reached its apex in the 1930s. Director Howard Hawks proves his mastery of the genre, pulling off an outlandish plot at breakneck speed with fabulous witty repartee and romantic tension between the perfectly cast leads, Grant and Hepburn (who are divine here). This movie may inspire them to take a look at dinosaur skeletons in a museum, though there is no such thing as an "intercostal clavicle."

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about comedies. What are the elements of a "screwball comedy"? What are other comedic styles? Which do you prefer?

  • How have movies changed over time? What sticks out in this movie as from another era? What elements of old-fashioned movies are missing from contemporary film? Have movies improved?

  • Alcohol drinking is played for laughs in this movie. What role do movies and other media have in our attitudes toward drinking?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 18, 1938
DVD release date:October 14, 1997
Cast:Cary Grant, Charles Ruggles, Katharine Hepburn
Director:Howard Hawks
Run time:102 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Bringing Up Baby was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Educator and Parent of a 10, 10, and 13 year old Written bysbatt November 19, 2009

Who knew old movies were this fun?

We love watching the misunderstandings build, and the fun snowball!

One mild caution - a handyman who drinks thinks he's seeing things.

Parent Written byClassic Movie Family December 7, 2010

A Classic Comedy for the whole family.

Our kids love this movie, and it’s difficult to find anything objectionable for any child aged 6+. This is a classic Cary Grant screwball comedy. Hepburn and Grant have electric chemistry.

(Disclaimer: We like classic movies because the material is generally suitable for the kids and it’s not dumbed down for them or us. Because much of the content is from a past era, some things need explanation. We prefer to use questionable content as teachable moments with which to reinforce our values.)

Teen, 15 years old Written bywho3697cares December 26, 2008

The funniest movie ever made

I'll have to disagree with the website for once and say 8 is extreme.


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