What's Up, Doc?

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
What's Up, Doc? Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
'70s screwball comedy is lot of fun for the whole family.
  • PG
  • 1972
  • 94 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 1 review

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.

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages
Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

One mild joke as Eunice tells the judge "They tried to molest me," and he replies "That's...unbelievable."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie doesn't have any inappropriate content. It's a lot of fun, even if it doesn't come close to meeting the standards of the screwball comedies it's trying to emulate.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byPauley12 December 6, 2019

The best

This movie is better than any of the screwball comedies of the 40s, for one thing, Barbra Streisand sings. And I laughed from the first moment to the last. A gr... Continue reading
Adult Written byll2 November 17, 2014

For the Whole Family

I grew up watching this as a kid in the 70's and it made me fall in love with movies. So when I had kids, I knew I'd want to show it to them, too. W... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byZaphrodite September 7, 2010


I loved this movie. I first watched it when I was 7 and I fell in love with it. I have always loved old movies. Common Sense didn't go into detail about th... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love comedy

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.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate