Monkey Business (1931) Review


The four Marx Brothers are on board a ship to America as stowaways which means they are about to cause so much chaos! They end up involved with feuding gangsters and must save the day when arriving in America when the daughter of one gangster is kidnapped.


Monkey Business does not really have the biggest or most elaborate of plots but that doesn’t really matter when we have Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo on screen. The comedic timing and genius of the four men is really something else. The mixture of the one liners for Groucho and the slapstick moments of silly comedy really is something that I cannot help but adore. It somehow manages to get funnier each and every time you watch them as well. For a film to be funny this proves that you do not need to have a complicated plot, you just need to have funny characters or actors to take on the roles and get that timing right.

When you remember that this was released in 1931 it certainly highlights that people have always enjoyed little moments that are rather risky and considering the theatre background of the brothers where you could get away with a lot more I love the script they are given. Especially for Groucho but Chico is given the more dry style of humour in his lines and at times these are just as good. Zeppo is always the straight guy and doesn’t really get involved in any of the comedy as such, which ends up then being funny! He does get the chance to sing in this film though. Then we have Harpo who never ever speaks and instead uses different objects to make noise and is the main slapstick comedy provider.

One thing this film was missing though was Margaret Dumont she certainly brings that extra special piece to their other films and her presence in this one is felt a little bit in terms of a good female character for Groucho in particular to bounce off.

This was the third Marx Brothers film to be released but this was very unique as it was the first that had an original screenplay rather than being an adaptation of one of their Broadway shows. I guess that showed that Hollywood were ready to take them on a different type of journey and writing for the screen instead. It also made me imagine how incredibly special it would have been to witness them live on screen.

How about a very crazy and hilarious fact for this film that it was banned by the Irish government as they thought it might encourage people to stowaway and this ban was only lifted in 2000!

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