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You Can't Take It with You (1938)

tomatometer

97

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 29
Fresh: 28 | Rotten: 1

It's predictably uplifting fare from Frank Capra, perhaps the most consciously uplifting of all great American directors -- but thanks to immensely appealing performances and a nimble script, You Can't Take It With You is hard not to love.

83

Average Rating: 6.5/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 1

It's predictably uplifting fare from Frank Capra, perhaps the most consciously uplifting of all great American directors -- but thanks to immensely appealing performances and a nimble script, You Can't Take It With You is hard not to love.

audience

89

liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 9,104

My Rating

Movie Info

Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's whimsical Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway play You Can't Take It With You was transformed into a paean to populism by director Frank Capra and screenwriter Robert Riskin. This is the story of the zany Sycamore household, presided over by Grandpa Vanderhof (Lionel Barrymore), a former businessman who has turned his back on commerce to enjoy life. At the Sycamores', everyone does just what he or she pleases. Penny Sycamore (Spring Byington), Grandpa's daughter,

G,

Romance, Classics, Comedy

Robert Riskin

Feb 18, 2003

Columbia Pictures

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All Critics (29) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (28) | Rotten (1) | DVD (5)

It's a grand picture.

January 13, 2014 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Easily the No. 1 cinema comedy of 1938.

February 17, 2009 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The tempo is generally fast and there are no sudden spurts or sharp letdowns.

February 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The cast is appealing, particularly Stewart and Arthur, but it's not enough.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out | Comments (4)
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There are still some laughs and entertainment to be found here, but forget about fidelity to the original.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

You Can't Take it with You was a tonic to a Depression-weary country beginning to right itself economically.

August 23, 1938 Full Review Source: ReelViews
ReelViews
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If you haven't seen it, make a point of catching this Capra classic.

January 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Kid-friendly Capra classic stars a quirky family.

December 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

A classic case of good old-fashioned American optimism.

June 7, 2009 Full Review Source: Film School Rejects
Film School Rejects

Demonstrates Capra's skill at tweaking the heartstrings as well as the funny bone.

February 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

Its stage origins might be all too obvious, but the excellent ensemble cast makes it an enjoyable breeze, and the in-laws meeting scene is farce comedy at its best.

February 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

The usual sentimental corny uplifting melodrama from director Frank Capra.

January 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

An entertaining, if saccharine film, packed with enough loony activity to keep the laughs coming from start to finish.

December 12, 2006 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Frank Capra's zanny comedy about a family of eccentrics is well-acted by Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur as the romantic couple and a large ensemble that included Spring Byington and others.

October 21, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

A family of misfits proves that you don't need money to be happy together.

October 17, 2006 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

[A] splendid Frank Capra classic.

September 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

Capra in top comedy form.

January 2, 2005
Kansas City Kansan

Jimmy Stewart's legendary career was just beginning when he co-starred in this Frank Capra classic, a warm, heart-tugging Best Picture Oscar winner.

August 29, 2004 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

It's one of those movies that's just so enjoyable, you're disappointed when it ends.

August 12, 2003
Matt's Movie Reviews

You Can't Take It With You does reveal the liberation offered by non-alienating work and examines the matrices between class and gender, as few other films do.

March 28, 2003 Full Review Source: PopMatters
PopMatters

A fairly decent Capra, a bit stagebound and undeserving of its Best Picture Oscar.

March 18, 2003
San Francisco Examiner

The pace is fast and furious and the scales tip quite forcefully on the side of living for the moment.

March 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Audience Reviews for You Can't Take It with You

A son of a business magnate proposes to a lower class girl whose eccentric family stands in the way of business's progress.
Frank Capra is a legendary director, and everybody loves him. But I don't. I didn't like It's a Wonderful Life mostly because it isn't. I didn't like Mr Smith Goes to Washington mostly because it was overly simplistic. And "You Can't Take It with You is so remarkably preachy that I found myself rolling my eyes so often I soon developed a headache. I'm essentially politically aligned with Capra's left-wing compassion, but the characters seem more motivated by the director's political arguments than they are motivated by specific characterizations or the story's demands.
I also found the antics of the Sycamore household ridiculous. The ballet dancer, the Russian, the fireworks -- all of it just seems so off the wall that I had trouble suspending my disbelief, and once again, I rolled my eyes.
Overall, I'm aware that I'm in the minority with my dislike for Capra, but I still think this film is great if you want to roll your eyes a lot
May 12, 2013
hunterjt13
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

The well-born Tony Kirby (James Stewart) falls in love with Alice (Jean Arthur), whose family, the Sycamores, are eccentric, to say the least. Her maternal grandfather (Lionel Barrymore) supports a cast of inventors and dancers and always has one more place at his table for guests, no matter where they come from, while on the Kirby side, it's not acceptable to associate with anyone not of the upper crust. What else could this setup provide other than a lesson about the worth of one's name and reputation versus that of one's money? To this fable add some wacky comedy and some stirring speeches, and what you get is another working class classic from Frank Capra that's not to be missed.
October 10, 2012
danperry17

Super Reviewer

This is Frank Capra's Oscar winning adaptation of a play about a family who helps show a wealthy financier that there's much more to life than money.

Alice Sycamore (Jean Arthur) is the only person in her eccentric family who seems rather normal. She falls in love with a nice young guy (James Stewart) whose parents are incredibly wealthy and don't approve of his relationship to Alice, nor his desire to marry her. Alice tries to change Tony's parents's minds by inviting the mto dinner, but, thanks to her family, things don't go as planned.

All in all, this is typical Capra schmaltz: sentimental, charming, hard to really hate, and very populist. I enjoyed the film, but it's overrated, and maybe not necessarily deserving of Best Picture. The problem is not the message or the acting from an excellent cast (which includes a delightful Lionel Barrymore), but the execution. The first half is slow, meandering, and thigns don't really pick up or get interesting until the latter half. Even then, the film is predicatble, and doesn't really do anything new or groundbreaking.

However, it is still pretty entertaining, well-meaning, and humorous, so, despite it's flaws, it's an old fashioned feel-good film worthy of a watch.
February 29, 2012
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

What negative comment could anyone give about this film. Truly uplifting and endlessly entertaining. Capra was the master.
October 18, 2011
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

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