Ok, the last in our recent Trio of Failure is -- hard to believe, but true -- the lovable screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby (1938). Delightful! Charming! Hilarious! And with star power like Katharine Hepburn (oh, there she is again!) and Cary Grant, you just can’t go wrong -- right?
Well, I have to say it was a FAIL for K. Now, it may be different with your kids (and I’m wondering if girls may respond differently than boys: the costuming is just eye popping, with nightgowns that rival today’s Oscar gowns, and it is, after all, a love story at heart). But my kid got bored rather quickly with the storyline of the pet leopard (“Baby”) and our hero’s attempt to disentangle himself from the leopard owner (Hepburn), who’s a walking disaster and accident magnet, and who has fallen hopelessly in love with Grant the day before his wedding.
Screwball comedies work because the dialog is so robust, so sparkling and fast moving, full of wit and double entendres, that if you tune out for a second you might miss the best line; each one seems better than the previous.
But even if you have a smart, fast-thinking kid (who is also accustomed to black and white films, so no distraction there), they just won’t get some of the lingo, and let’s face it: they want more action, and less talk.
Susan Vance (trying to convince a cop she’s a gang moll and Grant is a gangster): Sure, I wouldn't be squealing on him if he didn't give me the run-around with that other twist.
Constable Slocum: Oh, so he's a lady killer.
Susan Vance: A lady killer! He's a regular Don Swan. Loves the ladies, don't ya, honey (glancing at Grant)? He pops them off, one, two, three.
I’m sure K had no idea what any of that meant (and the lines were delivered with machine-gun speed).
K kept reaching for the remote to skip through the movie (and I kept slapping his hand), grimacing and saying, “This scene is just too long.” I must admit his reaction was disappointing.
So keep this in mind with the "screwball comedies" of the ‘30s and ‘40s. They’re marvelously entertaining for adults, but I suspect they don’t quite connect with most kids.
Although, I just added Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to our Netflix list. I loved that film, and am busily convincing myself that K will love it, too.