The Pitch

Antics aboard an ocean liner. (1 hr 18 min)

Age Recommendations

Watch With the Kids: 5+ Common Sense Media: 5+ New York Times: All ages Ty Burr: 5+

Content Advisories

Innuendo. Guns. Fistfights. Groucho makes lecherous wisecracks, and Harpo literally chases women. But it’s also difficult to imagine that either would have any idea what to do with an actual woman behind closed doors.

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Our ten year old was immediately ready for more. Next should probably be the agreed-upon classics Duck Soup and A Night At the Opera. Digging further will qualify you and your family as genuine Marx Brothers nerds.

Sorry, I can't stay. The captain's waiting to chase me.

When Margaret Dumont steps forward to address a society crowd, you know what’s coming next. But children unacquainted with the Marx Brothers (or Bugs Bunny, or the Animaniacs) have no idea what to expect. The fun of the setup is lost on the uninitiated. The dead simple premise of Monkey Business (made without Dumont) offers an easier way in to the lunatic humor of Groucho, Chico, and Harpo.* The fellows have stowed away on a ship, and they wish to avoid getting caught. Which means the verbal antics, innuendo, and sight gags are interspersed and punctuated with running and hiding and occasionally falling down. The slapstick and manic energy are fun for younger children, grade schoolers will better appreciate the non sequiturs and puns. A wisp of a plot involving rival gangsters arrives part way through, but is easily forgotten as Harpo leaps up onto a customs table like a rampaging orangutan, throwing papers in every direction. Delightful nonsense throughout. —Chris Ereneta

*Plus Zeppo, a little sillier here than usual.

Edited & designed by Chris Ereneta. Suggestions, feedback, and rants welcome at, @WatchWithKids, or on Facebook. More about this site.