Episodic look at married life and in-law problems. Adventures include a ride on a crowded trolley with a live turkey; a wild spin in a new auto with the in-laws in tow; and a sequence in ...
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Country Doctor, Jack Jackson is called in to treat the Sick-Little-Well-Girl, who has been making Dr. Saulsbourg and is sanitarium very rich, after years of unsuccessful treatment. His ... See full summary »
Fred C. Newmeyer,
John T. Prince
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After numerous failed attempts to commit suicide, our hero (Lloyd) runs into a lawyer who is looking for a stooge to stand in as a groom in order to secure an inheritance for his client (... See full summary »
Episodic look at married life and in-law problems. Adventures include a ride on a crowded trolley with a live turkey; a wild spin in a new auto with the in-laws in tow; and a sequence in which Hubby accidently chloroforms his mother-in-law and is convinced that he has killed her. When she begins sleep-walking, he thinks that she has returned to haunt him. Written by
Herman Seifer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Hot Water" sets up new husband Harold Lloyd with an overbearing mother- in-law, two troublesome brothers-in-law, a struggling turkey, and a new car he can't drive. Sound promising? Not without the usual Lloyd magic, strangely missing here.
"Married life is like dandruff," the opening title card explains. "It falls heavily upon your shoulders."
With luminous Jobyna Ralston in the second-billed role of the wife, this might seem an unlikely sentiment. "Hot Water" sells it with Josephine Crowell in what amounts to the real lead female role, that of mother-in- law, in her case a scowling crone who can't wait to complain whenever Harold's character upsets her. In this film, it happens a lot.
Lloyd films are normally so fluid and clever; "Hot Water" is gaggy and contrived. Following some business setting up Harold and Jobyna's characters (never named), the film proper begins with Harold out shopping. He finds himself the surprise winner of a turkey. Getting the turkey home via streetcar becomes Harold's first husbandly mission.
The other passengers are no help. "Why don't you leave your pets at home?" huffs one matronly woman, in a tone-setting moment. Harold will spend the rest of the movie annoying elderly women, in particular the one played by Crowell.
I wish I could report it's worth the effort. "Hot Water" moves in fits and starts, setting up disconnected situations for cheap laughs. Harold takes his extended family on a car ride, only to get in a crash. Harold drinks a little to settle his nerves, only to embarrass himself at the dinner table. Harold thinks he's killed Mother, and so finds himself in fear of the law.
If Crowell's character had been made more menacing, or amusing, "Hot Water" could have worked in a second-rate way. Yes, she's overbearing, and prone to judgment, but the menace of her character is never clear. In the car, for example, Harold is the one whose dangerous driving winds up running a policeman into a pond. Mother is more victim than instigator.
Later on, we learn Mother is a leading champion of Prohibition, something which comes up just after Harold is induced to have a nip of the hard stuff by a neighbor. She also sleep-walks, and Harold has a bottle of chloroform. Can you see where this is going?
"Hot Water" isn't completely predictable. I wasn't expecting some of the minor callbacks. The one with the turkey was kind of fun. There are some fancy stunts with the car, too. But the finale is labored and hokey, with people running around with sheets over their heads fooling others to mistake them as ghosts. There's Harold with his hair standing on end, and a scene of a "ghost" creeping into a closet where someone is hiding, both items recycled from the earlier Lloyd short "Haunted Spooks." "Spooks" has pace, too, something "Hot Water" desperately lacks.
Mostly, though, "Hot Water" is the sort of film that feels like it was done before, even back in 1924. Lloyd and his directors, Sam Taylor and Fred Newmeyer, seem content to run this one though the usual paces and save their creative energies for later. Too bad.
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