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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

What's Up, Doc? (1972)



Reviews and Comments

It's hard to revisit a bygone genre of filmmaking with a new film in the same spirit successfully. What's Up, Doc? recreates the screwball comedy genre from the thirties (and blends in some elements of sixties' slapstick), with delightful results.

Screwball comedy is one of the more sophisticated, demanding, and challenging forms of comedy. The rules are rigorous and assume a culture that has since become looked upon as quaint and outmoded. And it requires a nearly relentless supply of witty dialogue.

What's Up, Doc?, starring Barbara Streisand and Ryan O'Neal, is not a remake of a classic screwball comedy, which is part of the reason for its success. It does, however, reuse the main characters of the great Bringing Up Baby, there played by Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, and place them in an original story. Who'd have thought such a film could be so much fun? Streisand's no Hepburn, and O'Neal's no Grant, but their understanding of the genre and what makes it work is clearly evident, and they both have the talent and chemistry it takes to pull it off.