Horse Feathers



The Marx Brothers at their wacky best.
  • Review Date: September 19, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1932
  • Running Time: 67 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Everything is played for humor, sometimes at someone's expense. For example, as the College Widow attempts to work her wiles, Groucho says that he will "kick all her teeth right down her throat" -- definitely a quip from another age.

Positive role models

Reflecting the time in which the movie was made, African Americans are portrayed only as servants. Women are portrayed as
dolls or act like silly school girls to get what they want.

Violence & scariness

Comic punches.

Sexy stuff

This is pre-code 1930s Hollywood, and there's a fair bit of sexual double entendre. Much of it will go over the head of younger children.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that kids will be exposed to a fair bit of sexual double entendre. Much of it will go over the heads of younger children. African Americans in the movie are all servants and women are scheming and sexually manipulative.

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Filled with comic mayhem, this early Marx Brothers effort is considered one of their best, and most subversive movies. Huxley College has a new president in Professor Wagstaff (Groucho) who responds to all notions of how to make things better by singing "I'm against it." President Wagstaff needs to have a winning football season if he wants to survive at Huxley. Wagstaff's son (Zeppo) sends Wagstaff off to a speakeasy (a bar) to recruit two stars players, but he brings back Baravelli (Chico) and Pinky (Harpo) by mistake. Meanwhile, Wagstaff's son is still seeing the "College Widow," who is working as a spy for a rival college. At this point, madcap mayhem eclipses coherence, but let's just say that Wagstaff is able to prevent the team's secret signals from being stolen and the Huxley squad, led by the four Brothers, are victorious in the big game.

Is it any good?


Be forewarned, this stuff may be a hard sell for contemporary kids; they either get the Marx Brothers or they don't. At least that was the case with two young viewers, a 13-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy. The 13-year-old was unimpressed by the pandemonium and thought Groucho "just smirked all the time." Meanwhile, the 10-year-old laughed repeatedly at the verbal gymnastics -- even when he wasn't quite sure why they were funny. Neither really got that the Brothers were poking fun at authority, and they both wanted to fast forward through Harpo's physical comedy routines.

The musical numbers are definite highlights. "I'm Against It" is Groucho at his best, irreverent and wacky, leading the whole school in the mayhem. His later "I Love You" is also charming. Some find the Marx Brothers to be anarchic comic geniuses, others find them unbearably smug. And it seems to be true that boys find this type of humor more appealing than girls. But if parents want to introduce their kids to the Brothers' unique sense of humor, HORSE FEATHERS is a good choice.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how movie humor has changed and remained the same since the 1930s. Do today's comedies use as much physical humor as this one? What about the songs?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 19, 1932
DVD release date:August 8, 1995
Cast:Chico Marx, Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx
Director:Norman Z. McLeod
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:67 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Horse Feathers 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.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

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

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

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

Adult Written byobelix April 9, 2008

This is the Marx Brothers

Sure there are some double entendres, but your kids won't catch them, as they are well out-of-date(1931). No sexual scenes and no violence (well, maybe a fish slap). Anyhow, there's no reason to keep anyone from watching this hilarious film.
Adult Written byBobslob April 9, 2008

I didnt get it

Why does everyone think the Marks brothers are so funny? I tihnk the only part I got was the joke that Grouchy Marks made about the girl that he was talking about. Overall this was a movie that I can miss next time. Not recommended to anybody.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide