What’s Up Doc? is a 1972 American romantic screwball comedy film directed by Petrer Bogdanovich and starring Barbara Streisand and Ryan O’Neal. It was intended to pay homage to the comedy films of the 30s and 40s, particularly Bringing Up Baby and Warner Bros. Bugs Bunny cartoons. The film was loosely based on A Glimpse of Tiger by Herman Raucher.
Dr. Howard Bannister, a musicologist from the Iowa Conservatory of Music, has made a trip to San Fransisco to compete for a research grant offered by Frederick Larrabee. Howard is accompanied by his oppressive fiancee Eunice Burns. As the two check into the Hotel Bristol, Howard runs into the charming troublemaker Judy Maxwell in the hotel’s drugstore. She never finished college, but has collected a considerable amount of knowledge from all the academic institutions from which she has been expelled. She begins to pursue Howard and checks into a room in the hotel without paying.
Coincidentally, four parties are staying on the same floor of the hotel, all carrying identical plaid overnight bags. Howard’s bag has igneous “tambula” rocks have certain musical properties. The mysterious “Mr. Smith” has a bag containing top-secret government papers, which he has gotten illegally. Wealthy socialite Mrs. Van Hoskinshas a bag containing her sizable collection of valuable jewels. Judy’s bag is filled with her clothing and a large dictionary.
Over the course of the evening, the bags are switched randomly from room to room as the four parties unwittingly take one other’s bags. Howard ends up withe jewels, judy with the documents, Mr. Smith with Judy’s clothes, and thieves with the rocks.
Judy pretending to be Eunice at the musicologists’ banquet, uses her humor and academic knowledge to charm everyone except Howard’s competitor Hugh Simon. Unable to get over Judy’s masquerade – realizing Larrabee’s infatuation with her might win him the grant – Howard denies knowing the real Eunice when she hysterically tries to enter the banquet. Judy later sneaks into Howard’s hotel room. His attemps to try and hide Judy from Eunice lead to a fire and the destroying of the room.
The next day, everyone makes their way to a reception in the Larrabee’s fancy Victoriian house, where a fight breaks out, involving guns, furniture, and pies. Howard and Judy take all four bags and escape the fight, first on a delivery bike, and a Volkswagen Beetle, stolen from a wedding, chased by Mr, Smith and Mr. Jones, the jewel thieves.
Everyone ends up in court, where Judge Maxwell, already close to a nervous breakdown, tires to clear up the matter, but only advances in finding his daughter Judy the cause of all the trouble.
This film is a lot like classic screwball comedies. It is both hilarious and romantic, but also nothing but one shenanigan after another. There is no drama and Streisand’s character Judy is very annoying for a vast majority of the film. She won’t leave Howard alone to save her life, and yes, O’Neal’s Howard was a handsome fella, but he was not interested in her (at first) and was very annoyed by her. Although Howard is engaged to Madeline Kahn’s Eunice, he doesn’t seem to love her much as he treats her at times, like an annoyance and often ignores her and doesn’t seem like he really wants to marry her . Eunice’s wig is a redhead, flipped out bob with bangs and you can tell it’s a wig. Eunice is a worrywart and wants to control Howard. Howard and Eunice do not go together, but that is probably the point.
Kenneth Mars’s Hugh Simon, Howard’s rival, is super competitive, self-centered, and pretentious. Austin Pendelton’s Frederick Larrabee is extremely nerdy and wealthy, but weak as far as defending himself or others go.
This is a very silly movie, with no seriousness at all. There is some romance, but it is briefly shown. The main characters spend almost the entire runtime getting in trouble, which is entertaining, but it cuts the storyline short. Had there been less action and more dramedy type scenes, the story would have been better and the film would have been more enjoyable. The film jumps right into the screwball comedy too fast and you really don’t learn much about the characters. The acting is great from the majority of the cast, but that still doesn’t make this a great movie. Yes, it is funny, and fairly romantic, but that is all.
The characters disaters are funny, but that is all this story is, nothing more. There is no real depth, not much heart is more like Chaplin or Keaton film mixed with the Three Stooges, mixed with a rom-com, which doesn’t make for a great movie, although it is quite entertaining, it lacks a lot in the plot. There is very little you get to know about the characters, making them all rather dull and not interesting at all, even stylish Judy. This is a very one dimensional film with far too much humor and very little heart. 10+ 3.5/5