A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Frank Capra classic is delightful family viewing. The only red flag is the slightly condescending treatment of two African-American characters.
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What's the story?
In YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU, Tony Kirby (Jimmy Stewart) and Alice (Jean Arthur) have fallen in love. The problem is that they are from drastically different families. Tony's is straight-laced. Alice's is loving but eccentric, presided over by Grandpa (Lionel Barrymore). Alice invites Tony and his parents over for dinner, but they arrive a day early. The chaos that ensues leads Alice to believe she and Tony cannot be married, but it only serves to strengthen his resolve that they can.
Is it any good?
The well-loved play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart is given the wholesome Frank Capra treatment, sometimes called "capra-corn." The entire populist subplot about the land being sold and the appearance of most of the characters in court are the additions of Capra and his screenwriter, Robert Riskin, and they make the film seem a bit dated. But children will enjoy the way that everyone in the family joyfully pursues his or her own dreams, and the way they all respect and support one another.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether they would like to live in a family like this one. Which family member is most like you? Why did Tony tell his parents the wrong night for dinner at the Sycamore's? Notice the difference between the way that the Sycamores and the Kirbys react when they get arrested. Why? What does the title mean?
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