Monkey Business (1952) starring Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, Charles Coburn, Marilyn Monroe, Hugh Marlowe directed by Howard Hawks Movie Review

Monkey Business (1952)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Marilyn Monroe and Cary Grant in Monkey Business

Grant's Fountain of Youth

Howard Hawks's "Monkey Business" is a fun movie all about a scientist who is trying to create a youth elixir and through a mischievous monkey polluting a water fountain with his own invention believes he has. But the trouble is that whilst fun it really only has one joke and that is anyone who inadvertently drinks from the fountain starts feeling young again. And so scene after scene is about the movies stars Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers behaving like teenagers again which whilst fun ends up being repetitive. It's a shame as "Monkey Business" not only stars Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers but also Charles Coburn and Marilyn Monroe but the talent on show is wasted by the repetitive humour.

Research chemist Barnaby Fulton (Cary Grant - The Bishop's Wife) is trying to creating a youth pill but so far has had little success. When he tries his latest formula on himself he finally thinks he is getting somewhere as he starts to feel and act like a teenager once more with all his aches and pains disappearing. What he doesn't know is that a mischievous lab monkey has been playing with the chemicals and poured some them into the labs water fountain. Excited by what he thinks he has created his wife Edwina (Ginger Rogers) tries the formula along with even more water and also starts acting younger, this time as a mischievous child who inadvertently causes plenty of problems when she calls up an old friend who thinks that she wants and divorce from Barnaby.

Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers in Monkey Business

For about the first half of "Monkey Business" it is a pleasure to watch, especially the comical introduction to absent minded Barnaby Fulton as he immediately forgets what his patient and loving wife tells him as they try and go out to a party. It's an amusing intro with plenty of screwball comedy which continues as we discover Fulton has been trying to create a youth elixir for the company he works for. And to be honest it keeps on scoring brilliantly especially when following the monkey pouring a concoction of chemicals into the labs water fountain Barnaby suddenly thinks he has finally done it and made this youth elixir.

But sadly what follows soon starts to become repetitive as we watch Barnaby acting like a teenager, getting flashy new clothes, a sharp haircut and a sports car whilst flirting with a secretary. It is fun to start with and the comedy of Cary Grant flirting with Marilyn Monroe is brilliant especially the swimming pool scene. But sadly then it is Ginger Rogers turn and because she drinks more of the water acts even younger causing her to intentionally behave like a little child. And by the second half it is basically a free for all as both Grant and Rogers have drunk the water and so both act like little children. If it wasn't so repetitive it would be funnier but you just start to feel that the story needed another gag to explore.

Despite this there are some brilliant comedy moments and whilst some may find Ginger Rogers behaving like a screaming child annoying it is brilliant in contrast to Grant who at that point is playing the harassed husband who can't control her youthful exuberance. In fact for me the pairing of Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers is brilliant and those opening scenes where she is trying to get him to turn the light off, lock the door and go to the car are wonderful. And as already mentioned Grant's scenes with Marilyn Monroe are just as good with his blatant flirtations as she plays the sexy naive secretary. But sadly it feels like they wasted an opportunity when it comes to Charles Coburn as he is given the same stuff to do over and over again wasting his brilliant comic timing.

What this all boils down to is that "Monkey Business" is a fun movie, one which will make you laugh. But sadly despite an impressive cast that includes Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, Marilyn Monroe and Charles Coburn it ends up not as good as it could have been and that is because it ends up feeling repetitive with the same gag used over and over again. "Monkey Business" is still worth a watch if only for the wonderful opening and Grant's flirtatious behaviour towards Monroe but the talented cast definitely had better movies.