The screwball comedy is no longer actively relevant and that's because the historical conditions which produced it are "old hat". We are far too "aware" these days to fall for the slapstick tropes, both physical and verbal, that inform these early genre staples.
We look at films like Bringing Up. Baby, The Palm Beach Story or My Man Godfrey through a post-cinema lens which render them "silly". As if that wasn't the whole point. The difference between silly in the 30's,40's and 50's is they took "silliness" seriously. Now we see "silliness" as unsophisticated, or just eye-rollingly unimportant. Today we respond to informed irony with humour stemming from the deliberate 'wink' to the audience, reassuring us that we are all 'in the know'. Silliness, if it still exists today is modified to fit the JackAss franchise or the Hony-Boo Boo type show where we laugh at the idiocy from a distance. We have lost the art of serious playfulness, maybe because we are too "wised-Up" or "Hip" for childish wackiness. However, before we throw the baby out with the bathwater, keep in mind that "sillyness" is a form of rebellion against the dominant ideology. Think about how as soon as your old enough to go to school, you are discouraged from acting "silly" or being "disruptive". Good, obedient citizens are not 'silly' or 'disruptive'. If you are a silly child in school, you are immediately branded as a 'rebel'...and, in many ways, you are. So it is with films which may seem trivial or wacky but harbour deeper lines of thought around such entrenched notions as marriage, gender, power and rigid adherence to the 'rules".
What's Up, Doc, directed by Peter Bogdonovich, is, ostensibly, a remake of Hawks Bringing Up Baby, but it succeeds in updating the underrlying thematic, or at least one of the underlying themes, of gender role rebellion. Barbara Streisand is in the Kathryn Hepburn role and she is a literal force of nature . Witty, capable and sexy Streisand is a the perfect rebel who delights in manipulating and playing with people, not because she's a sociopath, but because she sees beyond the petty, rigid roles ascribed to her and others in american society at the end of the sixties. Her job, so to speak, is to loosen the tight rigidity that chokes Howard Bannister (70's hunk Ryan O' Neal doing a nice Cary Grant) and in the process destroy all the schemes and dreams of the excellent ensemble cast. A brilliant, almost forgotten retro screwball comedy...before retro became a prison of post modern culture.