A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The Marx Bros.' shtick is to bring chaos into a polite, high-class social environment: first a cruise ship, then a party. Zeppo, though, gets to act heroic by rescuing a girl.
Violence & Scariness
Climax is a fistfight between Zeppo and various gangsters and henchmen; more slapstick than anything else.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mild innuendo from Groucho. Harpo chases young women around, but his attitude is so childlike you get the feeling he wouldn't know what to do if he caught one.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Groucho smokes his famous cigar. Social drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Monkey Business is all about the silliness, and mature content is at a minimum. At one point Groucho tries to cultivate an affair with a married woman, and there's a slapsticky fistfight at the movie's climax. Some of the jokes deal with topics and people -- especially French crooner Maurice Chevalier -- better known in the 1930s. This film is not to be confused with another comedy from Hollywood's black-and-white era, 1951's Monkey Business with Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, and Marilyn Monroe To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Nearly as loosely plotted as you can get, MONKEY BUSINESS is a rambunctious outing for the Marx Brothers in their prime. It was the first Marx Brothers comedy to be written directly for the screen -- not an adapted stage show like Animal Crackers -- that looks like it could have been shot in one long take through a security camera. This is fluid and fun, with some bits that could only have worked due to cinematography and editing (the mute Harpo "singing" like Maurice Chevalier thanks to a full-size record player secretly strapped to his back), even if the storyline is nothing but a weak bridge from one Marx bit to another.
This is zany stuff, with only a few slow spots during the musical numbers (a chronic ailment in Marx movies). Monkey Business and its follow-up Horse Feathers are probably the most a lot of young viewers will get to see of Thelma Todd, a sexy and funny comedic actress (the "vamping Venus") of the 1930s, who holds her own against Groucho -- not an easy feat -- in her role as the gangster's restless wife (Todd died mysteriously at age 29, in what may have been suicide or a mob-connected murder, still one of Hollywood's most tantalizing unsolved mysteries).
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.