Sunday, April 5, 2009

You Can't Take it With You (1938)

The winner of Best Picture and Best Director, this offbeat comedy is about a family that chooses to do what they want over what they should do. How they have enough money to buy food is a mystery.

The story centers around young Alice (Jean Arthur) being the rebel of the family (she actually has a "job"!) and falling in love with owners son, Tony (James Stewart). The problem is that Tony's company is trying to evict Alice and her band of nuts from the family homestead. Drew's great-uncle Lionel Barrymore plays grandpa.

Because of the sentimentality of Frank Capra's films, they were sometimes labeled "Capra-corn". Here is a great example of that. There were interesting scenes and clever dialog, but come on! I think they went a little bit over the top trying to show how eccentric they were. Characters wrestling, throwing darts, painting, doing ballet, while fireworks were being set off, all at the same time! Reminds me of my old dorm room days. And in the end, all problems are solved by singing "Polly Wolly Doodle". Maybe this makes sense during a depression. I hope I don't find out.

One thing that struck me was the ages of the characters. Young Alice was played by 38 year old Jean Arthur. Her big sister was played by 15 year old Ann Miller. And Gramps was only 22 years Jean's senior. But it worked. Lionell looked to be 100, Jean Arthur could have easily passed for 24, and Ann Miller didn't look like any teen.

Nice to watch once, but wholly unremarkable. Frank got a best picture, but not from me. AMRU 3.

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