Monkey Business (1952)
Reviewed on 2007 April 10
Whenever I make a wish to be younger, I’m always careful to quantify the age, thanks to this movie.
Dr. Barnaby Fulton (Cary Grant) is under pressure to produce a youth formula, just a little something to just take the edge off that aging process, for his boss Mr. Oxley (Charles Coburn). With a little help from some of the critters in his research lab, he overachieves and whips up a potion that corrects the changes in vision and other aches and pains associated with getting older. Too bad it also makes you act like a kid on reverse Ritalin! His wife Edwina (Ginger Rogers) understands Barnaby’s distraction and wanting to hide in the lab until he unpicks the Gordian knot to make a stable batch of the formula… until she gets a snootful of it herself.
This could have strayed from “really good screwball comedy” to “really freaking stupid” under less watchful eyes, but with Howard Hawks at the helm and I.A.L. Diamond as one of the writers, that’s not going to happen. The acting is very good, with Grant effortlessly going from nerd to wildman (and back again) in sixty seconds. I think Rogers owns this thing though; she even looks younger when she takes the formula and I’d give good money to be able to dance like her. She could also convincingly be a doting wife and extremely funny (and bratty) from scene to scene. Marilyn Monroe doesn’t have the huge part the DVD cover would lead you to believe, but she’s funny as the flaky secretary Lois Laurel, and a nice foil for Ginger Rogers.
Three chocolate morsels.