Bringing Up Baby | Teen Ink

Bringing Up Baby

September 21, 2019
By Anonymous

 Bringing Up Baby is considered to be a true American film classic by many and also happens to be the quintessential screwball comedy. The movie revolves around paleontologist David Huxley, a klutz that seems to be a magnet for trouble. In order to raise the money needed for his museum, which helps to sponsor research for dinosaurs of various time periods, David must try to make a positive impression on Mrs. Random, a wealthy investor that is intent on giving away a million dollars to someone that needs it, which might just be the museum. However, things quickly get more complicated. On the day before he is supposed to get married, David Huxley tries to speak with Mrs. Random's lawyer, but this is quickly met with bad results. The problems all start when David meets a mysterious and unusual woman in Susan Vance, the adventurous niece of Mrs. Random that seems to only bring David problems. Susan quickly falls for David, but in doing so, she ends up trying to get to know him better and messes up his plan to talk with Mrs. Random in the process. While it seems like she is capable of formulating plans that can fix David's issues, it's clear that they almost always backfire. As the duo attempt to set David's life right, which includes trying to ensure that he is able to go to his own wedding and raise the money for the museum, they embark on a crazy roller coaster ride that will forever change them both. They must deal with wild leopards, committing grand theft auto, a missing dinosaur bone and confusion galore. 
 Bringing Up Baby is considered the quintessential screwball comedy by many, because it infuses together elements of modern life in America through the usage of gender and class role reversal, rapid-fire dialogue, confusions of modern life in America, and sheer breakneck speed. The movie serves as a device to explore the relationship between a man and a woman that attempt to admit their feelings for one another, and only accomplish to do such when ridiculous circumstances and general crude silliness force them to do such. For instance, there are numerous instances throughout the movie that involve characters talking over one another, and when this is involved, they are able to get away with more, especially considering that it was during the Hays Code period; this entails the usage of dirty jokes, and other snippets of dialogue of that nature. Additionally, the movie emphasizes gender reversal; the men are clueless, lost and relatively dumb, while the women are clearly in charge and typically more aware of what’s going on. The movie is also clearly a vehicle to highlight David Huxley and Susan Vance’s forbidden love for one another, which occasionally borderlines fanatic insanity. 
 While Bringing Up Baby may be considered a hallmark of true great cinema, it hasn't exactly aged well today. Parts of the movie are just downright unbelievable, and while the lack of realistic plot points could have been used as an escape for people during a post-Great Depression period, this doesn't function quite as well today. Instead, it makes the movie somewhat confusing in certain areas, and there are absolutely some questionable parts, like why David Huxley continues to get himself into more trouble, especially considering that no valid answers are provided. Additionally, Katharine Hepburn's performance as Susan Vance is criminally overrated. While Cary Grant manages to portray the goofy David Huxley with relative ease, while also honoring the great Harry Lloyd, Hepburn seems to struggle with her role. She comes across as trying too hard, and quite frankly, she's annoying more often than not. Her character is actually irritating, and it becomes quite understandable to see why this portrayal hurt her career for a fairly significant portion of time. 
 Bringing Up Baby may not be a great fit for everyone, mostly because it requires viewers to watch with nostalgia-tinted eyes, but it is a prime example of what a screwball comedy can and should look like. Despite all of its faults, the movie manages to show a lost genre that helped to define the film industry for such a large amount of time. There truly is a reason why it received an impressive 93% from Rotten Tomatoes after all, and the 90% of Google users that liked the movie is another good sign. The movie might not be an absolute must-see, but it is still definitely worth watching for a blast to the past. 


The author's comments:

"Now it isn't that I don't like you, Susan, because, after all, in moments of quiet, I'm strangely drawn toward you, but - well, there haven't been any quiet moments." - David Huxley


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