Well, once again I must agree with metaldams. Not only do I find this short to be entertaining overall, but I also must admit: I actually like the boot pulling scenes. Ok, it’s no masterpiece, but for something with a reputation like this, I actually did find myself laughing a lot more than I expected to.
Starting with the beginning, there is a fantastic set-up. Hardy’s overacting in his attempt to fake sickness is hilarious and Laurel’s failure to comprehend helps stretch it out as well. Admittedly, it is a bit disappointing that Anita Garvin is given less to do as Stan’s wife than in BLOTTO, though, really, all you need from her is one angry look at Stan in order to understand their relationship, and that’s exactly what she does here, so she still does a pretty good job for what little she has to work with. Isabelle Keith does a pretty good job as Mrs. Hardy as well.
After a brief scene of Stan and Ollie beginning to get ready for the party as well as another of Mrs. Laurel and Mrs. Hardy, we then get to the boot pulling and I’ll admit that my least favorite part occurs at the beginning of this: Stan and the weight loss belt. I don’t know why, but this is another one of those things that I found more odd than funny. I get what they’re going for and don’t think it’s a terrible idea, but it doesn’t play out the way I think it should and just comes across as nothing more than some weird shots of Laurel shaking his butt.
As for the rest of it, I think it’s pretty funny for the most part and nowhere near the horrors of BERTH MARKS, for a couple reasons. First off, BERTH MARKS as a whole is a terrible film, not just the upper berth scene, and this is mostly due to the combination of a crowded location and a camera that stays firmly in place when it shouldn’t. As metaldams mentioned, the boot pulling takes place in a much larger environment and because the camera isn’t as close, we can always tell what’s happening during the scene. There’s also another reason: BE BIG! takes breaks. If it was non-stop boot pulling, then I could see why people wouldn’t like it, but they do take moments to simply sit and talk and as a result it doesn’t feel as repetitive as you’d think it would be. I’ll admit it’s not flawless; towards the end, I did begin to feel that it was going on a bit too long, but I only felt this way once it got to the part where Stan got stuck in Ollie’s clothes, and immediately after that they followed with Stan getting stuck in the bed, which I thought not only led to a great payoff, but when they returned to do a bit more boot pulling afterwards, I suddenly found it funny again, because once again we got a brief break from the repetition that didn’t make it feel repetitive anymore. Honestly, I have to admire the pacing of this; as Paul mentioned, it is amazing how it was stretched so long, yet for me, it actually worked as well! Oh yeah, and as for that ending, just watch it. It is too amazing to put into words.
Overall, a great short that I think is much better than its reputation.
9 out of 10