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It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 8+

It's a long, long, long, long classic comedy chase-epic.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that drinking (in the case of one character, comical nonstop drunkenness) and smoking are fairly common. There is an abundance of slapstick roughhousing, reckless driving, and cartoonish violence, with most of the cast ... in a cast by the end. A few minor off-color verbal jokes -- one is so sneaky you wonder if censors even noticed it. Main characters are driven by all-consuming greed, with only one showing conscience and disgust for the corrupting influence of the treasure hunt. You need to watch this in widescreen to get the panoramic scope of the comedy, not a full-screen cropped version. And be prepared for a long sitting.

  • Families can talk about the corrosive effects of avarice. It's more absurd now because the $300,000 involved -- these days -- is rather small for all the havoc it inspires. The ending of the movie seems to suggest something about the healing power of laughter (though a classic movie called Sullivan's Travels did it rather more successfully). What modern-day TV contests does this movie remind you of?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Most all the primary characters are motivated by greed for the buried fortune, with the possible exception of the two young wives (marriage, however, looks like a pretty dismal state of existence). Even a dogged police officer dedicated to solving the case ends up trying to steal the money. Everyone suffers in the end for their greed, though.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence and scariness: Lots of slapstick fighting, pratfalls, and Jonathan Winter's Hulk-like one-man demolition of an entire gas station, all in a bloodless Looney Tunes-style -- even when there are explosions and electrocutions. Much reckless driving, including a car crash that is fatal (but made into a joke, as the victim makes a big, flowery death speech and literally kicks a metal bucket).

  • sex false1

    Sexy stuff: One character complains about America's fixation on "bosoms." A dancing bikini girl. One seeming off-color joke about male impotence likely to go over kids' heads.

  • language false2

    Language: "Hell" uttered a few times.

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Mainly automobile brands and a gas-station chain.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Some cigarette smoking and drinking. One character is perpetually drunk, and even flies a plane (tricked out with automatic liquor servers) while comically inebriated. Another character takes pills for his nervous condition.