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More fun than a barrel of monkeys...
gaityr31 March 2002
Buoyed by the tremendous energy of Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers, MONKEY BUSINESS is a charming throwback to the screwball era of the 1930s and 40s. You know that you're being asked to leave reality behind and just settle back for a good laugh the second the film begins, especially when the narrator repeatedly warns Cary from beginning the film before the credits are done rolling! Directed with great skill by Howard Hawks (mastermind of brilliant films such as 'Bringing Up Baby' and 'His Girl Friday'), the film shares the trademark rapidfire dialogue and zany situations typical of most Hawksian comedies. As always, following the conversation between the characters is more than enough to leave the viewer breathless... One example, out of so many, is the scene in Room 304, when young!Edwina loses her temper and the couple squabble about Hank Entwistle and she finally locks Barnaby out of the room--to hilarious and painful effect!

As with most screwball comedies, the premise of the film must first be accepted, since the entire film is a logical development from the original (zany) premise. In 'Monkey Business', Barnaby Fulton is working on the development of some kind of youth elixir, which he is testing on chimpanzees. Unbeknownst to him, one of his test subjects escapes his cage and successfully concocts the potion, leaving it in the water fountain. Of course, when Barnaby tests the potion on himself, he drinks some water to get the bitter taste out of his mouth--and almost immediately becomes about 20 years old mentally and physically. Before the elixir wears off, Barnaby gets a funky new haircut, coat and car, all with his boss' sexy young secretary (Marilyn Monroe, who else?) at his side. His wife Edwina (Ginger Rogers) then gets in on the action, taking some of the elixir to allow Barnaby to make scientific observations about someone else's reaction to it. It isn't long before she drags her husband to their honeymoon hotel, dances the night away, and impetuously starts divorce proceedings when he upsets her. The ending is a terrific exercise in belief-suspension, as the rejuvenated Barnaby and Edwina (simultaneously, this time) engage in paint wars, hair-pulling and scalping.

The best part of the film really would have to be the central performance given by Cary Grant as Barnaby Fulton. He's evidently one of Hawks's favourite actors, and for good reason too--he makes the trippiest of dialogue sound perfectly natural, and plays science-geeks and debonair reporters equally convincingly. With Barnaby, the viewer is instantly reminded of David Huxley, a role Cary Grant infused with life about 15 years ago in Bringing Up Baby. Just as David is kickstarted to life by Susan, Barnaby is youthened by the elixir, and in both films, it's a delight to watch the transformation take place. Initially, Grant's Barnaby is as stuffy as you can imagine a scientist--he's absent-minded and somewhat stern; in effect, all 'grown-up'. But the moment the youth elixir kicks in, the change is miraculous yet believable. Watch in delight as Barnaby flips an effortless cartwheel; drives like a daredevil; and conducts an entire chorus of children in a rousing war song. The 'joie de vivre' that Grant infuses his character with is almost palpable.

Cary Grant is also capably matched by Ginger Rogers in their second film together. Her ability to turn into a little girl is charming in the extreme, and you can see the years drop off her in her final stint as young Edwina... it's so evident that she's having fun as she tap-dances through the hotel, or flips rubber bands at people, chews gum, and scribbles "Barnaby loves Edwina" across the conference room chalkboard.

In general, the film itself is a little uneven: it has brilliant and hilarious moments, but you definitely get the feeling that much of the film is coasting on the considerable energy and skill of its cast--a splendid Cary Grant, a lovely Ginger Rogers, and an intriguingly young Marilyn Monroe. You probably won't be in too much of a hurry to rewatch this film once you've seen it the first time, but there's really no reason to put off your first viewing... so what are you waiting for?
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Good Fun
Snow Leopard31 October 2002
This is a very good movie to watch when all you want to do is to have a good time and some good laughs. There isn't a minute of it that would hold up to logical analysis, but there's barely a minute of it that isn't fun to watch. The story is pleasantly zany, the characters are entertaining, and the stars were all perfectly chosen for their roles.

Hawks's opening gag with Cary Grant in the doorway sets the tone, and lets you know right away that you can sit back and not take anything seriously for a while. Grant's character, a somewhat befuddled scientist who is trying to come up with a "youth formula", is the kind of role he could play in his sleep. As Grant's wife, Ginger Rogers doesn't get much to do for a good while, but then she has some fine comic moments later on. Charles Coburn is perfect as Grant's boss, and he gets a couple of the best lines in the whole show. And who better than Marilyn Monroe to play Coburn's secretary?

It's an entertaining throwback to the screwball comedies of a slightly earlier era. "Monkey Business" may be no masterpiece, but it's good fun of the pleasantly offbeat kind that is rare anymore.
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Give this one ape for effort
Steve-3186 July 2003
Thoroughly enjoyable comedy with Cary Grant as the absent-minded professor who's messing around looking for the fountain of youth. Ginger Rogers gets to dance a little without Fred Astaire plus demonstrate a wonderful comic style as she mixes it up with Marilyn Monroe. It's 1952 but you wouldn't know it (except for Marilyn's presence). Howard Hawks takes you back to the good old days when Hollywood demonstrated total mastery of time and space with the screwball comedy.

Along with monkeyshines and child actors, you really get a lot in this film: Grant and Rogers play off each other very nicely and the driving scene with Monroe and Grant is a classic. Adding to the hijinx is Charles Coburn, who always dominates the screen with his easy charm. I bet he loved chasing after Monroe with a spray bottle.

The movie holds up well over 50 years later which makes one wonder why Hollywood hasn't, cringe, chosen to ape the storyline for Jim Carrey or maybe Tom Hanks, who might be looking for a comic turn these days.

But then they remade Freaky Friday this summer, didn't they?
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"If one hundred monkeys typed on one hundred typewriters for forty years..."
theowinthrop5 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Basically this nice little comedy by Howard Hawks is based on the urban legend that I used in the summary line: If you put a certain number of monkeys in front of type writers, for a long period of time, eventually you are going to get the complete works of Shakespeare, the King James Bible, War and Peace, Little Women, etc. This urban legend is based on probabilities, but whether it is true or not is something nobody is really prepared to attempt (it would be too difficult to monitor and too expensive and too long). Here the whole idea is that an overly observant chimpanzee in a laboratory might be able to mix the elixir that regains lost youth or zest.

Howard Hawks had directed several comedies with Cary Grant, and Grant's Dr. Barnaby Fulton seems like a cousin of Dr. David Huxley, the hapless paleontologist in Hawks' 1938 comedy "Bringing Up Baby". Huxley is a child in handling the madcap heiress Susan who is pursuing him no matter what. Fulton is not as helpless as that, but he does have some similarities. He wears eyeglasses (like Huxley), and he can seem somewhat absent minded like Huxley. Fulton has attracted the attention of Miss Laurel (Marilyn Monroe), the secretary of Mr. Oxley (Charles Coburn). When Fulton goes to see Oxley for a brief conference, Ms Laurel tries to lure his attention by showing him her lovely leg - supposedly demonstrating her new nylons using a process he's invented. Fulton looks at her leg closely, but clinically regarding the success of the unbreakable nylon process.*

Ginger Rogers too showed some fragments of her past screen career as Edwina Fulton. She constantly wants to go dancing, and when she drinks the rejuvenating formula she starts doing some nice dance steps (reminding us of her days with Astaire, but even of her work in the Busby Berkeley musicals of the 1930s). At one point when she has taken too much of the formula she is suddenly 10-12 years old, and we see a repeat of her "Sue-Sue" Applegate in "The Major And The Minor".

Grant works for a corporation headed by Coburn and Larry Keating. They have been prospering from Grant's chemical inventions and patents, but Coburn is particularly interested in this rejuvenation formula. It is supposed to make a man feel decades younger and vigorous again. As Coburn has the beautiful Monroe as a secretary with indifferent skills (he hands her a paper to have someone else type, and when she protests to get another chance to type it instead, he gently explains it is too important - "Anyone can type!", he says to Grant) it is obvious that if the formula works he will be using it to pursue Monroe. Coburn is so desperate he wants to convert the entire factory to just produce the rejuvenation formula if it succeeds.

Grant is not too happy - he's been working for two years on the formula and there has been no success yet. He leaves the monkey cage open, and a female chimpanzee (who has been watching Grant mix the formula) throws the chemicals together and hides it within the water cooler. And every time the formula that Grant makes is tried, the guinea pig (Grant, Rogers, whoever) takes a drink of water to help make it palatable. And, of course, it is the unknown concoction of the monkey that actually sets off the rejuvenation.

The film follows the good and bad points of rejuvenation. Yes it does make a person more vigorous and able to do things that he hasn't been able to do for years (Grant does a cartwheel at one point). But it makes the user unreasonable to others who are not similarly peppy - Rogers thinks that Grant is a drag, as he doesn't take the concoction when they go out back to the hotel they honeymooned in. She is ready to jitterbug, and he's collapsing. And if too much is taken you become emotionally immature, leading to Grant arranging the scalping of his former rival (Hugh Marlowe) by some real kids.

The film has some nice little bits in it. An immature Grant is asked for the "secret ingredient" to his formula. How much, Coburn asks him, for the formula? "I want a zillion dollars!", Grant says - which he claims is a trillion million. And when he is trying to arrange the scalping of Marlowe, one of the youths (George Winslow) keeps bringing him down to earth by reminding him they need a war dance if they are going to scalp anyone!

Probably not on par with "Bringing Up Baby" or "His Gal Friday", but it was a good comedy for all that.

*However, later on, when he's taken the rejuvenating formula, Fulton does recognize Ms Laurel by her legs under a sign - suggesting that the attractiveness of her legs did make an impact on him.
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Screwball comedy with magnificent interpretations from Grant and Rogers
ma-cortes4 May 2005
The picture centers upon a scientist (Gary Grant) and his wife (Ginger Rogers) , he discovers a potion with extraordinary effects making younger themselves . He is testing the rejuvenating formula on a chimp turning nutty . This film is an underlying screwball comedy united to : ¨Bringing up baby¨ , ¨Ball of fire¨ and ¨His girl Friday¨ , all of them by the trio : Gary Grant-Gary Cooper-Howard Hawks and they are splendid .

In the movie there are comedy , tongue-in-cheek , joy , giggles and is pretty amusing . From the initiation to the final the humor is unstopped . Gary Grant and Ginger Rogers' interpretations are top notch , both of whom are awesome comedy actors . Ginger Rogers is the number one as dancer actress , besides a fascinating comedian and she achieved an Academy award as main actress for her portrayal in ¨Kitty Foyle , natural history of a woman¨ . The support cast is first range , are the veteran Charles Coburn and a newcomer Marilyn Monroe who at her playing as an attractive and charming secretary demonstrates experience like future first star . Excellent storyline by Ben Hetch and L.A.I. Diamond , they're Billy Wilder's habitual writers . Howard Hawks' direction is very good , Hawks has classics on every genre , thus : noir genre (The big sleep) , Western (Rio Bravo) and comedy (Monkey business) . The yarn will appeal to comedy enthusiasts and Gary Grant fans . Rating: Above average . Well worth seeing.
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Enjoyable fun
sychonic17 May 2001
If you like good solid wacky comedy, this is a strong bet. An utterly silly movie, it makes me smile just thinking about it--I've seen it probably a dozen times. Cary Grant really was in a class by himself, managing to do virtually every genre, even though he seems to have been typecast by movie history--here he plays a hopelessly stuffy absent minded professor, after drinking a youth serum of improbable origin, he immediately becomes a teen ager from the early fifties. Changing on a dime, the transformation is hilarious.

Ginger Rogers, always really engaging, isn't give a lot to do as an adult, but she excels when regressing into a juvenile.

One thing--for anyone who really likes Marilyn Monroe (and who doesn't), this is a must see. Not because it's her best part, or because she has a lot of screen time, it isn't and she doesn't. But since she made this movie really before she became famous, it's instructive: the part is just another ditzy bombshell secretary, but something about her just jumps off the screen. This seems to me to be a great example of how there's an ineffable unexplainable quality of "screen presence". She manages to hold her own with Cary Grant, not an easy task for anyone, let alone some yet to be discovered starlet.

Now that we're in a gross out downward spiral for comedies, this might be the best tonic--a movie that's very silly, and very funny.
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Too many writers
gudpaljoey-482173 September 2018
Everyone worked hard to be funny, but Charles Coburn steals the show. It seems like all the writers tried to squeeze their lines into the picture and it suffocated as the result. The story was too thin to handle it. It wanted to be a screwball comedy but, no fault of the actor, it was screwed up.
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Mostly entertaining, with great actors, but it gets a bit too wacky towards the end.
TxMike4 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I found this movie on Netflix streaming movies.

I happen to be a Chemist and that didn't help, because the Chemistry displayed here was very far from what might happen in a real Chemistry research lab.

Anyway, to the story. As the movie starts and his wife is trying to get him out of the house, he is acting like he might be mentally challenged, but he is acting the part of an absent-minded scientist, deep in thought. Cary Grant is intelligent and inventive Chemist Dr. Barnaby Fulton. He is working on what could be the invention of the ages, a formula that would arrest aging, and perhaps even reverse it.

The title has two meanings. Barnaby's lab is using chimpanzees, which they often referred to as "the monkeys", it was part of their research business. But the title also refers to the human "monkey business" that the characters seem to get into, over and over.

Ginger Rogers is just great as the wife, Mrs. Edwina Fulton, and always very understanding and forgiving of Barnaby's foibles. Marilyn Monroe is also in it, as a typist who can't type, but her character introduces some additional high jinks.

SPOILERS: Make no mistake, this is a slapstick comedy. Not only is Barnaby having trouble perfecting his formula, one day a chimp lets himself out of the cage, and proceeds to randomly pick up chemicals on the lab bench and mix them. The chemical mix ends up in the water cooler, and turns out to have the effect Barnaby was searching for. But with no witnesses and no idea what had happened, the chimp became an unwitting inventor of a technology that no one could duplicate. All the better for humanity, I suppose!
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Good Movie because of Talent
Yose26 December 2006
The movie Monkey Business could have been pretty bad. I would say that it's saving grace is the fact that the people involved are all highly talented. Howard Hawks turns in some excellent direction per usual, although I'm sure he was only paying the bills. Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers are pitch perfect. Marilyn Monroe is essentially eye candy in this movie but she still steals every scene she is in, which unfortunately isn't very many.

The script was written by the highly respected Ben Hecht , Charles Lederer (of His Girl Friday fame) and I.A.L. Diamond (Some Like It Hot etc...). With so many excellent writers involved you know the script is going to be at least decent. Granted that a monkey discovering a potion for the fountain of youth is a pretty silly premise they managed to pull it off for the most part. The dialog is a bit awkward in places but overall very good and the script certainly got it's message across.

Cary Grant's performance makes this film. He perfectly embodies what a typical teenager and child of the age would be. Of course the scenes in which he takes the potion are the highlights of the film and he does an excellent job with them. He also has considerable chemistry with his female costars particularly Ginger Rogers (Who plays his wife).

Marilyn Monroe plays Grant's bosses slightly dim but wonderfully innocent secretary. Although she has limited screen time you cannot take your eyes off of her anytime she is in the shot. The sign of a great actress.

Overall a very charming film with a feel good message. 7/10
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Caz19647 November 2005
I haven't seen this film for years,its very rarely on TV these days,which is a shame,i managed to get a copy on DVD,its always been one of the comedies I've wanted to own.The scene i always remembered best,was the one in which Cary Grant is playing cowboys and Indian's with the local children,and where Hank Entwhistle gets his just deserts,for being a smug playboy still trying to get Edwina.Ginger Rogers proved she could still dance and did a great comic turn,when she turns into a child.This film goes to show,that in them days they could make classic comedy without any foul language and without crudity,they didn't find any problem doing that.Marilyn Monroe provided the sexual interest in one of her more low key performances,and the plot only mildly focus on that,which is good.If you have never seen this film,and you like films from the early fifties,this is definitely worth a look.
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Something went wrong with "the formula"...only Marilyn shines...
Doylenf24 March 2005
The cast includes some of the top masters of screwball comedy and is directed by the man who made BRINGING UP BABY--and yet this is not the bright and witty farce it strains to be.

Ironically, it's MARILYN MONROE, in the film's smallest role as a dimwit secretary, who steals the spotlight from CARY GRANT, GINGER ROGERS and CHARLES COBURN whenever she pops up...which isn't often enough. Superstardom was just around the corner and this film is proof that Monroe had the kind of charisma that charms even when her dialog is not that funny.

CARY GRANT does well in most of his scenes but the Indian romp with the boys is too unbelievable even for this far-fetched comic spoof. At times, he seems almost detached from his role. Poor HUGH MARLOWE looks mighty uncomfortable as a victim of the "let's play Indian" stunt. So much so, that one can only picture him wishing he was back in ALL ABOUT EVE.

GINGER ROGERS has an irritating sequence where she and Cary revisit their honeymoon hotel with disastrous results when she goes into a crying jag over the mention of her mother's name. Ginger only perks up when imitating an even more youthful version of her "Major and the Minor" role--but she is given only brief moments to shine. Coburn plays his role effortlessly and is especially amusing when referring to his secretary's lack of skills. "Anyone can type", he says of Monroe as she wriggles away.

But true wit is missing for most of the film and the laughs come at the expense of the two main stars who show a surprising lack of chemistry when thrown together.

The formula just doesn't work here. Something went wrong and it shows.
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O Youth and Beauty!
telegonus8 December 2002
Monkey Business is a sort of late screwball comedy in which a scientist discovers a formula for returning people to their youth. The problem is that they become a little too youthful, and all hell breaks loose as a result. Directed by veteran Howard Hawks, co-authored by Ben Hecht, this is a funny if one joke film. Leading players Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers handle their parts capably, Charles Coburn is marvelous in a large (in all senses of that word) supporting role, and since it's a cliche to call Marilyn Monroe eye candy, I won't. Good fun all-round, the movie is in the end not as good as its thirties prototypes; some of the jokes go on for too long; and the repartee, such as the dialogue can be called, isn't as zingy as it might be. A good try, though, and intermittently hilarious.
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LeRoyMarko2 April 2001
This is a good movie featuring Cary Grant as the scientist who found a rejuvenating formula. Follows a series a wacky adventure for professor Fulton and his wife, played by Ginger Rogers. Top notch performances by Grant and Rogers, but also by Charles Coburn and beautiful Marilyn Monroe. And let's not forget the monkeys!

7 out of 10.
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In my opinion, this is a silly opinion
vert00128 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
It's a matter of opinion, but you could say that Howard Hawks closed out the classic Screwball Comedy period with MONKEY BUSINESS the way that Orson Welles closed out the Film Noir movement with TOUCH OF EVIL. For Cary Grant, his research chemist in MONKEY BUSINESS is practically a continuation of his archaeologist in Hawks's earlier BRINGING UP BABY. There are also animals playing important roles in the plots of these films, but otherwise the movies are very different. MONKEY BUSINESS is something of a one joke fantasy (a chimp concocts a fountain of youth mixture), but this one joke is played out as an elaborate and building 'theme and variations' which is often inspired even if it does go on a bit too long. The film advances steadily, if that's not a contradiction, into ever crazier territory, beginning with an underplayed deadpan scene between absentminded scientist Grant and his patiently understanding wife Rogers and progressing into the crosscut surrealism of Grant's 'scalping' of his rival while leading a band of child 'Indians' while Rogers is mistaking an infant for her husband! It's not to everyone's taste, but catch it in the right mood and this is downright hilarious.

If Cary Grant wasn't the finest light comedian that film has ever produced, he was extremely close. He plays confused like no one else, and MONKEY BUSINESS is inconceivable without him. Ginger Rogers also was an expert hand at verbal wit as well as slapstick, and an old hand at comically playing younger than her actual age. She may have gone over-the-top in places, but she also provided many funny moments. Marilyn Monroe was expert at playing dumb blondes and thus is perfectly cast, and Charles Coburn is always a welcome face in a movie.

MONKEY BUSINESS was something of a disappointment at the box office, though not the utter disaster that BRINGING UP BABY had been, and perhaps for this reason Howard Hawks always expressed dissatisfaction with it. Never one to take the blame for inadequacies, he seems to have singled out Ginger Rogers as his 'whipping girl' for this one. Hawks had wanted the younger Ava Gardner to play Cary Grant's wife and Grant had vetoed it, not wanting to have love scenes with an actress young enough to be his daughter (a common occurrence in movies of the fifties, including Grant's movies). Casting the 41-year-old Rogers was Grant's suggestion, and though Hawks acquiesced, multiple sources tell us that he treated her coldly during the shoot. His claim that she dictated disastrous changes in the script is doubtful to say the least as Ginger Rogers in 1952 had no power to dictate anything to either Howard Hawks or to any film studio. In my opinion, Hawks was lucky to have her.

MONKEY BUSINESS isn't the best movie that any of its principals were involved with, but it remains entertaining 64 years after it was made. A fitting end for the great Screwball Era.
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Youth formula is put into water cooler with comic results.
wharper-230 June 2000
_Monkey Business_ works if, and only if, you can buy the premise that a lab monkey, working behind the scientist's back, can produce an elixer that makes people young again and dump it into the lab's water cooler to watch the results. I find suspending disbelief here no problem, and the result is a wonderfully silly movie. Cary Grant is spot on as the absent-minded scientist, Barnaby Fulton. (The opening credit scene, which seques seamlessly from Cary being referred to as "Mr. Grant" by the off-camera director to Cary being Barnaby Fulton, is a classic in itself.) Ginger Rogers (Mrs. Fulton), is hardly credible as a scientist's wife, but she is brilliant whenever Mrs. Fulton is under the influence of the elixer. Monroe is effortless as the dumb blonde secretary wanting to have "fun" with the youthful version of Barnaby Fulton. Charles Coburn is perfect as the frumpy boss, Mr. Oxley. The comedy is in the situations and dialog that develop as the elixer is repeatedly unwittingly imbibed by Grant and Rogers, and then by others. I would rather not spell these out, but they are fully within the screwball comedy genre that goes back to the 1930's.
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Funny,but not the best with Marilyn
Lady_Targaryen16 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
''Monkey Business'' is a funny movie, but Marilyn Monroe has a small role as Dr. Barnaby Fulton's secretary, miss Lois Laurel. We also have the very famous Ginger Rogers as Mrs. Edwina Fulton, the female lead role.

The story is about Barnaby Fulton(Cary Grant), a scientist who is working in a formula to make people young again. He is two years trying to find the exact proportions and ingredients for the formula, but he doesn't have any success. His old boss,Mr. Oliver Oxley(Charles Coburn) is always telling Barnaby to have success, because without the right formula is not going to promote him, but for his luck he has a very nice and supportive wife, Edwina Fulton, who is always helping him. One day,Esther, the young ape goes out of her cage and mix Barnaby's ingredients, making it a success, but she gets the formula mixed with the water, and that's how the problems starts to begins: Barnaby, Edwina and even the other scientists and Mr. Oxley are going to drink it, making many confusions and bringing problems for them all.

aka "O Inventor Da Mocidade" - Brazil
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Silly, slapstick not up to par for Howard Hawks
alfiefamily29 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"Monkey Business" is not a typical Howard Hawks comedy. First of all, it has two leading stars that have very little "chemistry" together. This is especially troubling since the two leading stars are Ginger Rogers and Cary Grant. They both look uncomfortable in this not very funny film.

"Monkey Business" reminded me of some of those ridiculous films that Disney made in the late '60's thru the late '70's. Loaded with animals, kids and lame slapstick.

Cary plays a chemist/inventor who tries to discover a "fountain of youth" potion for boss, Charles Coburn. Rogers is his supportive wife. Thru a fluke in his lab, Cary is given the potion, and instantly reverts to childlike behavior. Rogers also takes the potion and turns into an annoyingly shrill child herself. The rest of the film is predictable, and not very funny.

The movie on the whole seems very flat and unfunny. I got the feeling that Grant, Rogers and Hawks did this movie, if only to complete their contractual obligations with 20th Century Fox.

Not really worth your time.

** out of ****
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Not Every Hawks Film Hits Target
DKosty12312 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This film has all the names of a top rated classic movie. It falls short because of the script. It just is not as funny as it should be. It tries to get by more with dialog comedy than visual and I think that is because most of the cast except Ms. Monroe are advancing in age. Cary Grant is 48 and shows amazing energy here, more frantic than I have ever seen him elsewhere. Grant gets a kids hair cut in this and looks younger with that style than his age.

Marilyn Monroe in this film is good but her role is support. She has the full curve look here as it appears her weight was up into the plump area when she did this movie.This did happen sometimes in her career. Still even plump she looks attractive.

Ginger Rodgers always was quite slim and I like her figure in this one. She gets to do a few dance steps but not really the dancing she did with Astaire. Her acting is frantic in this too. I'd have dated Ginger with this look.

The chemist who has invented a youth formula here is pretty thin to hang the plot on and at times the story line blurts and some of the acting is really over the top. This Monkey Business has no relation to the Marx Brothers film of the same name. Given a comparison, the Marx film is much funnier, the only thing it lacks is Monroe. This movies only assets are the great cast.
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The last screwball comedy
krorie8 March 2006
Screwball comedies that had begun with "It Happened One Night" in 1933 came to an end with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. So-called sophisticated comedies replaced screwball comedies with the likes of "Woman of the Year" and "To Be Or Not To Be." One of the best directors of screwball comedies, Howard Hawks, made one last hurrah with "Monkey Business" which can be considered the final comedy of the genre (there were elements of screwball comedy in "Some Like It Hot" and other later films but these don't really fit the category completely).

"Monkey Business" is all but forgotten today even though its cast includes many of the best actors around at the time. The only element that keeps it from being swept under the rug totally is the significant appearance of sex goddess Marilyn Monroe who was beginning to show the world that she was more than just a sex kitten. Though Hawks focuses on that aspect of her persona, she is able to rise above it with her immense comedic talents. Perhaps another reason for this movie's obscurity is the title, since one of the great Marx Brothers films is also called "Monkey Business."

This little gem is a winner. The writing talents of Ben Hecht, Charles Lederer, and I.A.L. Diamond are utilized to create a laugh-a-minute marathon of science fiction hocus-pocus brought to life by Cary Grant, who is outrageous in his antics especially when he reverts to childhood, Ginger Rogers, who gets to cut a rug in what becomes almost a parody of her dances with Fred Astaire, the always wonderful Charles Coburn, Sex pot Marilyn Monroe adds the spice, and all threaten to be upstaged by Esther the Chimp.

The lines in the script are at times saucy to say the least for a film made in 1952. When buying a sports car Dr. Barnaby Fulton (Cary Grant) mentions adding a beaver tail. The camera pans and shows Marilyn's feet and legs, then travels upward. While Barnaby and Lois Laurel (Marilyn) are driving the sports care for the first spin, the conversation becomes titillating with Lois Laurel telling Barnaby how hot she is. When Barnaby and his supervisor Oliver Oxley (Charles Coburn) speak about secretary Lois Laurel, the camera pans from her bottom to Oxley who comments, "Anyone can type." There are many other sexual innuendos sprinkled throughout including a scene when a naked baby crawls into bed with Edwina Fulton (Ginger Rogers). She thinks it is her husband Barnaby who has become an infant by drinking the youth potion. She first arrives at this conclusion when she feels the baby's butt.

The story sounds simple when outlined. In reality, it becomes complex in its presentation. A brilliant chemist, Dr. Barnaby Fulton, is extremely absent minded. Consequently he continually misplaces notes to experiments and forgets at times to write down some of the main ingredients to his formulas. Working on a youth concoction and using chimps in his experiments, he is not adverse to drinking his own mixtures becoming a human guinea pig. While a monkey is loose in the laboratory, the skillful creature mixes his own potion which is accidentally put into the water cooler. This leads to all types of hilarious situations, including one scalping, with the team of scientists headed by Oxley trying to find the one ingredient that makes the formula work.

The humor is fast-paced, the lines fly like a buzz saw. If you don't find this film hysterical, then your funny bone is out of whack. See a laugh doctor immediately. Oh, as a bonus, you get to hear Cary Grant croon "The Whiffenpoof Song"
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Hawks knew his business.
FilmSnobby12 August 2004
This farcical adaptation of *Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde* is also an affectionate valentine from director Howard Hawks to a veteran pair of campaigners (Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers) as well as to the audience who remembered when Hawks, Grant, and Rogers were in their youthful prime back in the Thirties. The great thing of it is, Hawks & Co. are asserting here (in 1952) that they are most definitely NOT past their prime, both in comedic execution and in terms of the movie's theme, which is the inadvisability of wishing to turn back the clock.

Grant is the absent-minded professor working -- rather unenthusiastically -- on a "youth elixir", which he's testing on lab chimps. Well, one of these chimps gets out of his cage, inadvertently creates the perfect "formula" by mixing and matching chemicals, and finally dumps the beaker into the water cooler. Hijinks follow. With each encounter with the formula, Grant and wife Rogers regress further and further into youth, all the way back to infancy. The gags here are as good as anything Hawks, and Grant in earlier Hawks films, ever put on the screen. Grant's performance is really a wonder: a slow-burn, rising to an almost scary lunatic crescendo wherein he's slathered in Indian war-paint and administering a mohawk haircut on an old chum (and romantic rival) with a group of savage children as his aides. And Hawks gives Ginger the opportunity to cut a rug or two. What more do you want? Marilyn Monroe?

OK, *Monkey Business* has MM, too. It's an early picture for her, and it's a small role . . . but I must echo a comment below that her magnetism is an irresistible force. It's beyond "acting": the woman was clearly a star. When this absolutely ripe tomato is on-screen, she's all you see. (Old Charles Coburn must have relished the scene where he gets to chase her around the lab, soaking her with a spray nozzle. An enviable role for any actor!) Because *Monkey Business* was one of her first movies, Cary Grant is also able to get away with asking MM to pull his finger (!). "Dr. FULTON!" she huffs. Monroe was wonderful before superstardom, barbituates, and the Actors Studio got their hooks into her.

I suppose I should bring up the meatier subtexts underneath all the farce: YOU know, the sublimated desire to escape Fifties conformity; the catastrophe of male mid-life crisis; the dark side of consumerism (Grant is a hired-out chemist for a crass pharmaceutical company which is willing to foist any poison on the public as long as said poison is profitable); the discovery of Sex After 40 (notice how much lovelier Rogers looks when she releases her long blonde hair from that horribly severe Fifties bun); Freudian connotations of repressed adulterous desires . . . oh, but why spoil the fun? Along the lines of spoiling the fun, the wet blankets bemoaning the un-PC treatment of animal experimentation and kids playing Cowboys and Indians can go jump in the lake.

All in all, *Monkey Business* -- this screwball throwback -- is funnier and more substantial than its Thirties antecedents. It requires great artistry to return to one's old material without parodying oneself. I guess Howard Hawks and Cary Grant were great artists, eh?
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The secret formula
jotix10026 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Barnaby Fulton is a typical absent minded scientist. When we first see him, he is preparing to go out with his wife Edwina to a dance. He clearly does not want to go, because in his mind, the formula he has been working on has him worried. The secret youth producing elixir will not be able to be produced. Barnaby works for a company that is capitalizing its existence on the success of a product that will change people's lives as their lives will benefit with a youth feeling that no one else has marketed.

Unknown to Barnaby, one chimp in the lab, decides to imitate Dr. Fulton and creates its own formula which he dumps in the water cooler. Barnaby, decides to taste his own creation himself, something the company does not encourage. Finding it ever so bitter, he must have some water to take away the after taste he gets after drinking his formula. The results are amazing: Barnaby becomes a reckless young man.

"Monkey Business" owes its success to the great Howard Hawks, a man that produced some of the best comedies of Hollywood that still are seen again and again. Mr. Hawks was a versatile man that knew what the public wanted. The comedy worked because all the elements came together to make it a timeless piece that will be enjoyed by audiences of all ages. The screenplay was by Ben Hecht, Charles Lederer and I.A.L. Diamond, and based on a story by Harry Segal.

An inspired Cary Grant is the basically the excuse for watching the film. He shows his range in playing the morose scientist as well as the younger man that has fun playing with children as well. Mr. Grant is perfect as Barnaby. Ginger Rogers also has some excellent moments when she tastes her husband's magical formula, reverting to the time when she had just married Barnaby. Marilyn Monroe added a touch of mischief playing the secretary with all the right equipment to distract men at the office. Charles Coburn and Hugh Marlowe are also seen in supporting roles.
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Very funny
The Movie Buff13 May 2002
This movie contains a part that is one of the funniest I have ever seen. It is when Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers get called into the board of directors room and they both are acting like children, having both taken the formula without knowing it. To top it all off, the monkey was on the ceiling throwing light bulbs.

Overall it was a very funny movie, clever, yet far-fetched. I would rate this as one of Cary Grants best performances. Ginger Rogers was also very good. However for some reason there wasnt enough Marilyn in this movie. I few parts that she was in, she was very funny. I don't know why she only played a small role in this movie. Her funniest line was at the beginning when the boss told her to go to every ford dealership and look for Barnaby. Her reply was, "Which one do you want me to do first."

It was a funny movie with parts that will have you on the floor.
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Uneven comedy
fletch521 September 2000
I found "Monkey Business" to be an uneven comedy. It offers many hilarious and memorable moments (the monkey preparing the formula, for instance), but there are also a number of scenes which come to a standstill; many of them are the ones involving the professor and his wife. Cleverly written dialogue provides most of the fun, and the film leaves an overall good feeling. Considered a classic.
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contrived and irritating!
standardmetal14 June 2006
I think I'd have loved this film when I was 9 or 10 but now I can only watch it in disbelief while I shake my head and mutter "Oh, come on!" A throwback to the 1930's screwball comedies, this has a very flimsy plot which allows the aging cast to act like complete nincompoops, particularly as the film goes on.

I'd say that Cary Grant (a screwball comedy veteran) and Ginger Rogers had zero chemistry as the married couple and I also thought Charles Coburn uncharacteristically walked through a part he did many times before in better movies. But I think Marilyn stole the picture whenever she appeared, not that it was that difficult to do in this case.

We were not amused!
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Could have been funny
stine020211 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I would have liked this movie were it not for Ginger Rogers. She is so painfully annoying from start to finish, I wanted to scream. After consuming her first dose of the formula... Oh what an absolute disaster. She is whiny and irritating to the point that I wonder how any man agreed to marry her in the first place. Had I not known that she was such a brilliant dancer before this movie, I would say that her skills in this area are clumsy and embarrassing. I would have been laughing as an innocent bystander watching her gallop around the dance floor. She only seems like a drunken fool rolling around on the floor then weeping before locking her husband out of the honeymoon suite she insisted on staying in. And, to top it all off, we find out that she called her ex beau (who she continues to contact throughout the movie to arouse jealousy) accusing her husband of abuse. All of this disaster is lightly sloughed off by her the next day as angry reporters, mother and ex boyfriend are infiltrating their house and interrogating her husband. Yet, he doesn't even seem in the slightest bit bothered with her. How unrealistic. I cannot believe this garbage actually made it through the screening process of production.
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