I covered the early film comedians pretty early on in my blog, from Chaplin to Keaton to Lloyd. I’d forgotten about comedy duos, and with that, there’s few duos that achieved immortality like Laurel & Hardy. The lone Laurel & Hardy film to make the list, Sons of the Desert is about the comedy duo’s misadventures in trying to go to a convention without their disapproving wives catching wind of it. Hilaaaaarious premise, right? Well, yeah, the plot isn’t why we’re watching a Laurel & Hardy film; I just wanted to make light of it, since I didn’t get a whole lot of amusement from the film itself.
The humor to be found here is incredibly situational, and indeed this seems to be a precursor to many of the formulas that would run early sitcoms of the 50s. I’ve pretty much grown out of sitcoms, especially the classic ones (though I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Happy Days), so this film had very little to offer me; not that I was expecting it to, but I at least hoped I’d get some laughs out of it, sadly to no avail. Much of the humor is telegraphed, so you’ll see what’s coming in an “I’m not going to allow that, and that’s FINAL! -cut to “that” happening anyway-” sort of way, so brace yourself for some obviousness. In terms of direction and filmmaking, there’s very little that’s special about this one, or even satisfactory, but we’re not watching for the technicals. We’re watching for the laughs, and to that end, for me, the film didn’t really deliver like I was hoping it would. I guess I shouldn’t have been expecting outright laughter, but even a chuckle here and there would’ve been nice; instead, I just remarked to myself, “Oh, that was amusing,” and even that I repeated to myself very few times through the whole film.
This is my first Laurel & Hardy experience, so I can’t compare it to any of their other works, but this is apparently regarded as one of their best films. I’m almost sad to say, but this is a pretty sorry representation of their “best work”. It was standard comedy fare for the time, which to my modern sense of humor and whatnot means that it was mostly “humorous” padding that I was able to tell was humorous, but didn’t find it humorous myself. And when I say padding, I mean it; halfway through the film is a musical number that exists for pretty much no purpose other than to have a musical number, and at just over an hour in runtime, this film has little room for such tangents. Even still, they did their best trying to cram as much Laurel & Hardy signature material into this one, despite its short length, and then support it with a rudimentary plot that, like most other comedy movies of the time, does very little supporting. But hey, this was probably one hell of a success in the 1930s, so I’ll give it that. It just didn’t work for me.
Arbitrary Rating: 6/10