A so-so Our Gang comedy, amusing but nothing special
This is a pleasant but undistinguished Our Gang comedy made toward the end of the silent era, after several of the first crop of kids had outgrown the series but before the first generation of "talkie" kids had been recruited. For my taste, the series' funniest silent films were produced early on, along about 1923-25. By the late '20s, it would appear, inspiration was flagging a bit. Although the kids themselves are as charming as ever, the gags feel a little tired in Rainy Days. In retrospect it looks like the series was simply marking time until the microphones were installed.
Here's what I mean by uninspired material: this film begins with a prolonged sequence at the breakfast table, during which little Wheezer (who is not supposed to eat sausages) attempts to trick his older brother Jay out of his portion. Pete the Pup, meanwhile, is also trying to steal sausages. Jay finally soaks one of the sausages in Tabasco sauce and allows Wheezer to get it. Wheezer bites into it, reacts, runs around and around the room in under-cranked fast motion, then rushes to the kitchen and gulps so much water he bloats (thanks to a balloon- like prop concealed under his nightshirt). Pete the Pup eats the remainder of the Tabasco-soaked sausage, reacts, then rushes to the bathroom, where he drinks the dirty bathwater (Yuck!!) and accidentally swallows a bar of soap. When Pete hiccups, bubbles float from his mouth. This last gag is pretty well animated, by the way, but repeated until the humor has worn thin.
After the boys' mother steps out for the afternoon, warning them not to get into any more mischief, the gang invades their home and trashes the place thoroughly. The rest of the film consists of their efforts to clean up before she gets back. (Hmm . . . I wonder if Dr. Seuss drew upon memories of this movie when he wrote "The Cat in the Hat"?) Most of the comedy is comparable to the sausage business in terms of wit, with much of the running time devoted to that venerable fall-back, messy gags involving the hanging of wallpaper. The best moment involves a clever animated image of paper strips rolling back and forth wildly on the walls.
For the undemanding viewer Rainy Days isn't a bad way to spend twenty minutes or so, in fact I rather enjoyed it over all, but connoisseurs in search of the very best Our Gang comedies will need to look elsewhere.
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