Login

Monkey Business Review

Image for Monkey Business

Scientist Dr. Branaby Fulton is busy creating a formula for eternal youth, is caught between the homely charms of his wife and the full-throttle curves of his boss’s secretary. When one of his test-chimps mixes the potion with lab’s water supply, Fulton

★★★★★

A lesser known, and lesser accomplished, paring of director Howard Hawks and superstar Cary Grant, which also features a small role from Marylin Monroe, but is so contrived and silly time has left it behind. Grant, akin to his superb dotty doctor in Bringing Up Baby, once again slides his charm into a nebbish academic, but Hawks’ screwballing valour is off kilter and the actor sorely misses the prize sparring of Katharine Hepburn, leaving him out of sorts. The film aims for sweet rather than biting, lazily concocted around stupid notions about miraculous chemical formulas. It’s high high concept, whose comic potential is lost in a blather of established stars (Grant, Ginger Rodgers and Monroe) trying to play teenage.

There might lie the disconnect for most. Hawks’ notions of teen behaviour — Grant escapes from the lab to grab a new haircut and buy a sports car and natty threads, Rodgers drags him to the honeymoon suite to re-enflame lost ardour — are strictly one-dimensional. The film is all antics and no commentary, beyond the stale reasoning that life shouldn’t lose its sparkle with age. The three stars retain their immortal glimmer, that long-lost dash of personality that was the foundation stone for movies back then, but Hawks was having a rare but distinct off day.

Howard Hawks, an old hand at screwball insanity, doesn't quite recapture the spirit of his 30s pictures in this 50s movie.

More from Empire