Monday, 25 January 2016

Monkey Business (1952)

Director Howard Hawks apparently felt this comedy was not as funny as it should be because the premise was not believable.  I think the film's not as funny as it should be because it only has one joke.  Or I guess three jokes, if you consider "young people are irrational", "young people are impulsive" and "young people are superficial" to be separate things.

Barnaby Fulton is a research chemist searching for an elixir of youth.  He's having only limited success until - for no readily apparent reason - he decides to test this latest formula on himself rather than his usual chimpanzee subjects.

The formula is bitter, so Barnaby takes a drink from the lab's water cooler.  Unknown to him, however, one of the chimps made its own elixir and dumped it into said cooler, so he's unwittingly drinking that concoction as well.

The results, of course, are miraculous: he finds the aches and pains of his middle-aged body are gone, and his eyesight is as sharp as when he was twenty.  And then he goes out and buys flash clothes and a fast car and goes roller-skating with Marilyn Monroe.  As you do.

Despite nearly crashing his new car multiple times when his eyesight fades again, and leaving himself very sore from all his escapades, Fulton plans to take an even larger dose of the formula as a second test (I guess being irrational and impulsive is not purely the province of the young), but his wife intercedes and takes the dose in his place - and once more, drinks from the cooler to wash away the taste.

And thus the pattern of the film is established: someone unwittingly drinks the chimp's formula, regresses to an age between 5 and 15, and "shenanigans" ensue.  It's honestly a all rather tiresome, despite the gallant effort of stars Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers.

Not much to recommend here.

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