Review: Bringing Up Baby (1938)

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A pet leopard would be awesome, from what I’ve heard shagging Katharine Hepburn would be even, uh, awesomer!

Screenplay By: Dudley Nichols & Hagar Wilde
Directed By: Howard Hawks

I recently wrote about how subjective comedy is, and Bringing Up Baby proves my point. I loved Howard Hawks’ comedy, Twentieth Century, but I couldn’t bring myself to like Bringing Up Baby, another comedy by Mr. Hawks. It was funny in a few parts, but it felt far too long and there were far too many moments where the comedy didn’t work. Comedies need to come together, the entire package needs to work for it to be great. For a comedy to be good it needs to at the very least be consistently funny. Bringing Up Baby accomplished neither, and I found myself actually wanting to turn it off at various points.

The screwball comedy is a tough cookie to pull off, and based on his previous work I would trust Howard Hawks to pull it off in splendid fashion. But, with Bringing Up Baby he swings and misses. It is slick, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn are serviceable in their roles, and the story isn’t all that bad. But, the movie is dreadfully boring for the most part. When joke after joke falls flat, and some scenes are played out over the course of seven to eight minutes you are left with a lot of dead air. It’s hard to pick out the good in Bringing Up Baby, because there wasn’t much that stood out and made me cackle with laughter, or even lightly chuckle. At the same time it wasn’t a terrible movie so I don’t want to slag it off with nothing but negative remarks. Comedy being as subjective as it is I’m sure that a lot of people will like, and even love, Bringing Up Baby but it fell flat for me.

There are better Cary Grant movies out there, there are better films from Miss Hepburn, Katharine or even Audrey, out there, and there are better Howard Hawks movies as well as far better Howard Hawks screwball comedies that you could see. If you are a Howard Hawks completest make sure to check out Bringing Up Baby, otherwise I would recommend staying away from this very mediocre and unfunny comedy.

Rating:

**1/2

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

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5 responses to “Review: Bringing Up Baby (1938)

  1. subjective is right!

    this is definitely my favourite Hawks comedy

  2. I completely agree with the reviewer

  3. Aint – Subjective is the key to all comedy, what didn’t work for me worked for you, and that’s cool. 🙂

    Shmuel – Thanks for the agreement.

  4. I found this movie actually irritating. I like KH, but wanted to turn off the movie 10 minutes in…

  5. You and me, we seem to be the only ones.

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