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Duck Soup Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 7+

Classic comedy film with lots of mayhem, slapstick humor.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the Marx Brothers are the epitome of anarchy in this movie. They're rude, insulting, pranksterish, and loyal to nobody. Later, tamer features would usually cast them in some good-guy role, their destructive mayhem having a secret agenda to help out a pretty girl in distress or the like, but not in this movie. There is some dated and tame sexual innuendo. There are explosions, gunfire, and mortar shells during a comical battle sequence. There is slapstick roughhousing throughout by Chico and Harpo -- characters are often kicked in the rear end. Parents who think the Three Stooges are a bad influence may feel the same applies here. Also, the opening-credit image of live ducks floating in a pot with a fire under it is a little disturbing.

  • Families can talk about how a movie this hilarious could have failed at the box office when it opened in the '30s. Other, more popular Marx Brothers movies had boring musical numbers and straight-faced romantic subplots to interrupt the comedy. Should that have been done here? What kinds of comedies that you see today are like Duck Soup, or is this brand of comedy unique?
  • Where does the comedy of the Marx Brothers seem timeless, and where does it seem dated?
  • If Duck Soup were to be remade today, how do you think it would be different, and who would star in it? Do you think Duck Soup could even be remade?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true0

    Educational value: Meant to entertain rather than educate.

  • message true1

    Messages: As a classic slapstick comedy satirizing government, espionage, and warfare, there isn't much in the way of positive messages, except that "laughter is the best way to get through difficult times."

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: The Marx Brothers mine laughs out of any and every situation, and their comedy, as a whole, is timeless.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence and scariness: Explosions, gunfire, and mortar shells during a comical battle sequence. Slapstick roughhousing throughout by Chico and Harpo -- characters are often kicked in the rear end.

  • sex false1

    Sexy stuff: Some mild innuendo from Groucho. Various young women, one in lingerie, are chased around by Harpo.

  • language false2

    Language: Some dated and tame sexual innuendo. In the middle of a series of quips, Groucho Marx says, "My father was headstrong. My mother was armstrong. The Armstrongs met the Headstrongs...and that's how darkies were born!" While the reference in the punch line is to a song satirizing the African-American experience (a song performed by Paul Robeson, among others), it's easy enough to take this out of context and interpret it as racist.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Unsurprisingly, as a movie starring Groucho Marx, there is frequent cigar smoking.