You Can’t Take It With You parents guide

You Can’t Take It With You Parent Guide

The love of money is the root of all evil.

Overall B

Tony Kirby’s (Jimmy Stewart) and Alice Sycamore (Jean Arthur) may think they are the perfect match, but the different priorities between his wealthy parents and her eccentric family may tear the two apart.

Release date November 3, 1938

Violence B-
Sexual Content B+
Profanity A-
Substance Use C+

Why is You Can’t Take It With You rated Not Rated? The MPAA rated You Can’t Take It With You Not Rated Approved

Run Time: 126 minutes

Parent Movie Review

What happens when a man of good family and great wealth falls in love with a nobody that has nothing? Major objections result – that’s what.

And so it is for Tony Kirby’s (Jimmy Stewart), son of business tycoon Anthony B. Kirby (Edward Arnold) who is on the brink of the most lucrative deal of his career. (Kirby Sr. just needs one ornery holdout to agree to sell his property). Yet despite the prospect of enormous profits, Tony Jr. is more interested in in his new secretary Alice Sycamore (Jean Arthur) than on being the vise president of Dad’s growing company.

Alice, on the other hand, is afraid their differences in social status might present a barrier to a possible future together, so she suggests Tony bring his parents to meet her relatives before the pair announces an engagement. Knowing just how eccentric her clan really can appear, Alice has reason to worry. The heart of her home is her grandfather, Martin Vanderhof (Lionel Barrymore) a strong proponent of perusing one’s passions rather than the almighty dollar. Consequently, her mother (Spring Byington) is consumed by her hobbies of writing and painting. Still, those pursuits are far less alarming than her father’s (Samuel S. Hinds) rocket building or her brother-in-law’s (Dub Taylor) fetish for printing revolutionary brochures. Then there is her sister (Ann Miller) who fancies herself a ballerina, an intense Russian dance teacher (Mischa Auer), and a couple other regular guests with equally crazy pastimes. With these concerns in mind, Alice makes the household swear they will be on their best behavior when her important visitors arrive.

But Tony is confident in his ability to get whatever he wants from his doting parents. Certain their concessions will extend to being allowed to marry whomever he choses, he intentionally gives his folks the wrong date for the party to ensure they see his perspective in-laws in their true character.

When the snobbish Kirby’s arrive for dinner a day ahead of schedule, they do indeed catch the Sycamore entourage unprepared. The bad situation gets progressively worse, offending Tony’s priggish mother (Mary Forbes), and ruffling Alice’s working-class pride. Tensions get even more explosive when Kirby Sr. learns that Grandpa Vanderhof is the man who has refused to sell his house to make room for his proposed factory.

Anyone familiar with Director Frank Capra’s work will see his signature written all over this screenplay. Touting his favorite themes of the importance of friends over fortune and family over fame, the script reminds the greedy Anthony B. Kirby (and the audience too) that when it comes to monetary gains, we can’t take it with us. The anti-materialistic message of this 1938 movie played very well to its depression-era audience, and won the film two Oscars (Best Picture and Best Director).

Today’s viewers may be a little more critical of the production – especially those who are more familiar with another of Capra’s classics, It’s a Wonderful Life. Similarities between the two are plentiful. Many of the same cast members appear in both, and each features a scene where donations from average people saves the penniless protagonists from a heartless bigwig. Sadly, the over-the-top antics of Alice’s family and the unrealistic notion that work or pay the tax man are optional activities, pushes the plot into the realm of fantasy and robs believability from some of its well-meaning messages. Despite these flaws, one thing remains true even after all the years since the movie’s theatrical début: investing in strong relationships always pays off far better than chasing financial security. (And no one can object to that!)

Directed by Frank Capra. Starring Jean Arthur, James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore. Running time: 126 minutes. Theatrical release November 3, 1938. Updated

You Can’t Take It With You
Rating & Content Info

Why is You Can’t Take It With You rated Not Rated? You Can’t Take It With You is rated Not Rated by the MPAA Approved

Violence: Eccentric characters engage in quirky activities such as building rockets out of gunpowder, and their creations frequently go off and blow up. A massive explosion and property damage are depicted. Characters recklessly side down the banister and one of them injures his leg. Characters wrestle. Police threaten, arrest and jail a group of confused people. A character prints and distributes fliers that have a revolutionary tone. Characters argue. A judge in a courtroom has trouble controlling an unruly mob. A man who has lost a fortune collapses from stress and later dies from heart failure. Strained relationships, especially between parent and children, are shown.

Sexual Content: Some characters are seen in immodest costumes. A woman in a jail cell makes veiled references to prostitution.

Language: Some name-calling and insults are heard.

Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters frequently smoke.

Other: A character is described as a student of the occult. Characters pray.

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More parents' guide for You Can’t Take It With You after the break...

You Can’t Take It With You Parents' Guide

How do you feel about Mr. Vanderhof’s advice about spending time in the pursuit of your passions? What are some of the benefits of this philosophy? What are some of possible pitfalls? How do you try to balance work and play in your life?

Home Video

The most recent home video release of You Can’t Take It With You movie is December 8, 2015. Here are some details…

Home Video Notes: You Can’t Take It With You
Release Date: 8 December 2015
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases You Can’t Take It With You to home video (Blu-ray or DVD) with the following extras:
- Audio Commentary by Frank Capra Jr. and Author Cathrine Kellison
- Featurette: Frank Capra, Jr. Remembers You Can't Take It With You
- Original Theatrical Trailer

Related home video titles:

Mr. Vanderhof’s affection for his house mirrors his love for his deceased wife, just as it does for Mr. Fredrickson in Up. Another family as equally quirky as Alice’s is depicted in Meet the Robinsons. And Anthony B. Kirby is just as much of a scrooge as the character in A Christmas Carol.