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What's Up, Doc?
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Like the classic screwball comedies of the 1930s, WHAT'S UP, DOC? centers on a madcap young woman (Barbra Streisand), Judy Maxwell, who disrupts the life of shy bespectacled professor Howard Bannister (Ryan O'Neal). Bannister arrives at a hotel to present his findings about ancient societies using rocks as primitive instruments. His prize rocks are in his plaid overnight bag, but as it happens, three identical bags arrive at the hotel at the same time -- one contains valuable jewels, another top secret government documents, and the last nothing more than a change of clothes. (Attempts by a spy to steal the bag with the documents and a thief to steal the bag with the jewels add to the storyline). Accompanied by his stuffy and overbearing fiancée, Eunice (Madeline Kahn), Bannister hopes to get a research grant from wealthy conference attendee Mr. Larabee. Judy, who is simply after a free meal, is drawn to Howard, and stays on to be near him. She impersonates Eunice at the opening dinner, utterly captivating Larabee. She then proceeds, as Howard says, to "bring havoc and chaos to everyone," including the destruction of a hotel room (and Howard's engagement), and a wildly funny car chase through the streets of San Francisco, before it all gets straightened out.
Is it any good?
This movie is a lot of fun, but it does not come close to meeting the standards of the movies it is trying to emulate. The main flaw is that Judy and Howard (and the actors who portray them) are simply not as appealing as their prototypes in classics like Bringing Up Baby. For example, as we meet Judy, she is stealing a meal from a hotel, something which may have had more appeal in the "anti- establishment" early 1970s, but which now seems less than charming. The big laugh line at the end of the movie, a poke at O'Neal's overwhelmingly successful previous movie, Love Story, will not mean anything to today's kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what they think about the way Judy behaved. Did she ever think ahead, or did she just do what seemed right at the moment? Eunice tells Howard that she does not want romance because she wants something stronger -- trust. What is the point of view of the movie about that? How can you tell? Which is the funniest part of the movie? Were there any parts that were supposed to be funny that you did not think were funny? Why?
For kids who love comedy
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.