It was only a couple of months ago, New Year’s Eve, that I watched Duck Soup, but after having initiated my kids to the Marx Brothers, first through YouTube, then via A Night at the Opera (1935), they were clambering for more. Namely, Duck Soup, whose two most famous sequences, the mirror scene and the hat scene were already embedded in their minds by way of the YouTube clips. A great feeling of smug, fatherly pride comes across me.
I’m still struck, though by no means surprised by how much the Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes co-opted the Marx Brothers’ multiple schticks, a merging of Groucho and Harpo, in particular, in the fast-talking, yet very physical humor. But I have to say, the kids totally love it.
Groucho’s one-liners and zingers fly a little fast for even a keen-eared adult, especially with some of their more painful or out-dated puns, but even if only a couple of them land appropriately in the kids’ ears, it’s totally worth it for their laughing reactions. I’ve self-satisfyingly touted their appreciation of Chaplin, Keaton and even Fatty Arbuckle, but this has a whole charm unique to itself.
Felix proclaimed Duck Soup a preference above A Night at the Opera, but it’s probably safe to say that the variance is a bit sophisticated for a 9 year old. I, myself, definitely prefer the earlier, chaotic, antic, insanity and chaos of the earlier films, rather than their later more codified, though still remarkably excellent later films. It’s still awesome. Awesome, awesome, awesome to watch this film with the kids and for them to just dig it straight-up. Awesome.