Bringing Up Baby Movie Poster Image

Bringing Up Baby

Classic screwball comedy with loads of tame laughs.
Parents recommend
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1938
  • Running Time: 102 minutes

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 emotion or pleasure -- can learn to live with spontaneity, passion, and joy.

Positive role models

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. 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.”

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, and director Howard Hawks proves his mastery of the genre. He pulls 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/Streaming 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

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 9 years old November 16, 2014


I thought it was funny to watch and listen to. I loved how Susan just kept talking and talking. She kept it funny and interesting. What they did was surprising like slipping down a hill and getting the net stuck on their head, and then they walked right into a lake.
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.)
Parent Written byPuddleglum March 4, 2013

One of the best

One of the best movies of all time! There is nothing inappropriate in this movie aside from a supporting character who drinks. The only reason I raised the age to 7 is because the plot is intricate and the movie is lengthy and may not hold the attention of someone under 7. Katharine Hepburn calls the shots and her character is likeable and positive, if eccentric. I watched it when I was a kid and can honestly say that I loved it then & still love it today. :)
What other families should know
Great role models