Watch BRATS in the link above
Well, we just got finished with a turd of a Stooge short called SELF MADE MAIDS in which The Three Stooges play multiple characters and (basically) all the roles. Coincidentally, Laurel and Hardy also do a short this week where they play multiple characters and all the roles. In this case, in addition to themselves, they also play their own sons, and I'm very happy to report the results are better. Much, MUCH better. Oh, Laurel and Hardy, like The Three Stooges, will stink up the joint someday as well in this genre, just not today.
Why does this one work? Well, for one, no men in drag stuff, instead it's men acting as their own children. From an acting perspective it works, because as immature as the grown Laurel and Hardy can be, the children Laurel and Hardy seem even more immature, even more believable. When Ollie gets shot in the butt after the cartoon mouse is on him, his whining and moaning in pain seems even more childish than usual. Stan not taking blame for hitting Ollie only to reveal a boxing glove on his hand also seems a bit too childish for the adult Laurel and Hardy, but perfect for their children. Oh, and that little boxing match has me in stitches, especially the way child Stan jumps around like a pixie. Children Stan and Ollie are a perfect excuse for them to up the ante on the baser side of their characters.
Another reason why this short works is the technical way it was shot. Those children Stan and Ollie are believably tiny looking compared to their counterpart fathers. My guess as to how it was pulled off is pairing children Stan and Ollie with larger furniture and longer camera shots, giving them a smaller appearance, but I don't know this for a fact. I can't think of what else it could be, though. Clearly, at one point, Ollie chases Stan up a dresser drawer table much bigger than him and falls through two dresser drawers in the process. In addition to being hysterical, it's a great visual effect. Let's face it, Hal Roach had a better budget than Columbia shorts, I can't imagine Columbia pulling this off, not to mention the level of destruction you see in these Roach shorts, the flooding of bathroom water being a great example, and the short two weeks from now being an even better one!
I absolutely love seeing Oliver Hardy sings the two mini me's to sleep. Ollie had a great tenor voice, hearing him sing gives me the same pleasure I get when Larry takes the violin. Great when these guys use their outside talents, and in those days, you were expected to be an all around entertainer. Stan, on the other hand, can't sing, but hearing him interrupt Ollie as he tries to join in is funny nonetheless.
An incredibly fun and original short, easily a 10. I leave you with this classic quote from Stan, which Oliver shows a respectful look of sincere belief after Stan bellows it.
"You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be led."