A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Most all the primary characters are motivated by greed for the buried fortune, with the possible exception of the two young wives (marriage, however, looks like a pretty dismal state of existence). Even a dogged police officer dedicated to solving the case ends up trying to steal the money. Everyone suffers in the end for their greed, though.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of slapstick fighting, pratfalls, and Jonathan Winter's Hulk-like one-man demolition of an entire gas station, all in a bloodless Looney Tunes-style -- even when there are explosions and electrocutions. Much reckless driving, including a car crash that is fatal (but made into a joke, as the victim makes a big, flowery death speech and literally kicks a metal bucket).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One character complains about America's fixation on "bosoms." A dancing bikini girl. One seeming off-color joke about male impotence likely to go over kids' heads.
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"Hell" uttered a few times.
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Products & Purchases
Mainly automobile brands and a gas-station chain.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some cigarette smoking and drinking. One character is perpetually drunk, and even flies a plane (tricked out with automatic liquor servers) while comically inebriated. Another character takes pills for his nervous condition.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that drinking (in the case of one character, comical nonstop drunkenness) and smoking are fairly common in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. There is an abundance of slapstick roughhousing, reckless driving, and cartoonish violence, with most of the cast ... in a cast by the end. A few minor off-color verbal jokes -- one is so sneaky you wonder if censors even noticed it. Main characters are driven by all-consuming greed, with only one showing conscience and disgust for the corrupting influence of the treasure hunt. You need to watch this in widescreen to get the panoramic scope of the comedy, not a full-screen cropped version. And be prepared for a long sitting. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Kids will laugh at this in parts, though even the comedy gems here bump up against the cumbersome scale. Director Stanley Kramer was best known for high-minded, serious movies about racism, justice, and other social ills; doing It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was his attempt to prove he could do comedy just as well as preach. But moreover, he wanted to show he could do one of the BIGGEST comedies conceivable, hiring enough comic heavyweights for 10 movies (many of them, like Sid Caesar and Milton Berle, enjoyed their greatest successes on TV rather than the big screen, however), and putting other illustrious screen clowns like Jerry Lewis and the Three Stooges in quick-cut cameos and bit parts. Kramer also mounted epic-level stunts, and he violated a major rule of screen farce by making the whole thing last well over two hours (it was originally shown with an intermission break).
The result is undoubtedly entertaining, sometimes screamingly funny, but also somewhat elephantine and thin in the what's-the-point? department. It's all just a big chase, the sort of thing Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton (who appears briefly) would do in the silent era as a nicely compact short subject.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.