Bringing Up Baby

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Bringing Up Baby Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Classic screwball comedy with loads of tame laughs.
  • NR
  • 1938
  • 102 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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?”

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.

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.”

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult 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... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bycassylk May 15, 2018


Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn are a dynamic duo and this is one of their earlier films together, as they were also in The Philadelphia Story. The dialogue an... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old November 6, 2020


I LOVE it!!!!!!!

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?

Movie details

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