A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while there are a lot of physical misadventures in Bringing Up Baby there no injuries in this madcap comedy. 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.”
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What's the story?
In BRINGING UP BABY, 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?
This 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). Bringing Up Baby may inspire them to take a look at dinosaur skeletons in a museum, though there is no such thing as an "intercostal clavicle."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about comedies. What are the elements of a "screwball comedy"? What are other comedic styles? Which do you prefer? Do you think Bringing Up Baby is funny?
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?
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