As someone who's enjoyed both Laurel and Hardy's and Boris Karloff's work for years, it's a fun novelty to see this film where, by chance, Stan Laurel directs and Oliver Hardy and Karloff both play small roles. It's Mabel Normand's starring comedy, though, of course, and she fills the star's shoes admirably. She signed on at Hal Roach from features and shorts, and though this was one of the shorts Mabel's was a big name it was given a longer-than-usual three reels at forty minutes.
This was made as her career was nearing it's end but she is still attractive, cute, and magnetic -- an automatic star and natural comedian. The three reels and a simple story allow this comedy to take its time and develop scenes and characters; this allows for plenty of humor to be drawn from character jokes about Mabel's loafing father, &c., and for her to utilize her subtle acting and comedy skills for laughs and substance in a way that wouldn't always have been possible in the fast-paced output of Mack Sennett's studios.
This means we get the full benefit of her never-dull reactions and expressions, in a demure yet feisty and also ironic performance with plenty of perfectly-timed eye-rolling. One delightfully minimalist scene that consists entirely of Mabel sitting on her front porch next to a boring date who says almost nothing becomes hilarious due to the time given her to react.
Oliver Hardy gets a good amount of screen time without much specific to do as a wildly enthusiastic drummer at the club where Mabel works as a dime-a-dance "instructor." He seems to be having a blast, though, and it's fun to see him so ridiculously animated. Karloff gets the chance to be creepy in a different way than we are used to see him, appearing in a couple of very funny scenes as an overly forward "masher" who forces himself on Mabel. In a great sequence she shakes him by tricking him into stealing from a blind beggar, then demurely tries to steal his car.
A sequence with a baby eating soap features some interesting early animation on live action and doesn't have much to do with what else is going on but is too charming not to like. In all this is a great showcase for its star and, like the best Hal Roach comedies, pure ebullient fun.
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