Sunday, June 7, 2009


Well, we didn't exactly have a Marx Brothers fest this weekend (as predicted earlier), but we did make a second attempt to charm son K with a Marx Brothers classic. I can't say it was a successful endeavor.

A few years ago, we tried Night at the Opera, but it was clear that K was too young to keep pace with the speedy dialogue and definitely too young to understand the humor. So, at age 12, we figured we'd try again; this is, after all, a kid who has grown up seeing black and white films of all kinds, and has a fairly mature sense of humor.

This time out, we tried Duck Soup ... but with pretty much the same results. Duck Soup is barely over an hour long, so not a huge time investment. Groucho is appointed leader of the country of Freedonia, and his brand of absurdist governing is hilarious at the same time it feels slightly dated and sexist. But his bluntly chauvinistic character is part of the charm (isn't it?) and so you don't really tsk tsk so much as you rather guiltily chuckle along to the gags. 

But of course, most of this inarguably adult humor is lost on kids.  

Unless you are dying to get a Marx Brothers fix yourself, and want to test your own kids' capacity for staccato one-liners and double entendres with phrases they may not be familiar with, I'd say these films are probably better saved for later.    


  1. Based on the recommendation of a parents' magazine, I tried a similar approach with my 5-year-old by trying to watch a silent Chaplin film with him, The Gold Rush. Let's just say his level of interest was less than encouraging.

    I agree -- these kinds of classic comedy are best saved for when they're older.

  2. Oh, differing opinion on Chaplin! We sold son K on Chaplin at about age ... 7. (Yeah, a little older than 5!) I wrote up the Gold Rush early on (see Chaplin link in column left). Marx Bros just rely too much on dialogue for the kids... I think I first enjoyed them as a teen.


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