Perfect Day

Film Review by Dean Duncan Sep 10, 2015

Many people find this kind of film, which these boys made quite a few of, to be frustrating. My wife, for instance, and one and a half of our kids. We have known these frustrated individuals, when we have managed to get them to sit down and watch with us for a minute, to then get up and leave the room, in frustration.

We can see their point. You might see it also. You might even share it, while you’re walking out of the room yourselves. When Stan & Ollie and their wives and gouty Uncle Edgar Kennedy are supposed to be on their way to enjoy a picnic, you want them to enjoy a picnic. Or at least to have that picnic jeopardized in some interesting and productive way. Or at least to have a picnic of some kind. Or at least to get out of the driveway.

Well hold on. This film features protagonists who do not accomplish their objectives. The same goes for a lot of L&H films. That’s not very consistent with almost every ingratiatingly commercial film ever made. Isn’t that kind of cool? Don’t we often complain about all of the conventional stuff that we’re always surrounded by? Don’t we say we want something different, or challenging? Well. Further, L&H films actually anticipate a form of semi or sort of tragedy. Maybe even a bit like Arthur Miller wrote about in that essay about the lives of common men, which he illustrated with Death of a Salesman. That, or Wile E. Coyote. L&H really and absolutely anticipate Absurdism, and they absolutely belong on the same shelf that houses the works of Samuel Beckett or Eugene Ionesco, or some of Tom Stoppard. These films are commercial products, and kind of humble ones at that. But they’re also really about something.

Less long-haired, there’s also the fact that these exquisite gag craftsmen—actually, that was mostly Stan, with the help of a number of agile directors—could really write and execute jokes! Which, again, hang fatefully in the air. There is a big tray of sandwiches. Oliver Hardy has a big bottom. Do you see where I’m going here? Similarly, the aforementioned case of gout, bricks and windows, striving upwards and the laws of gravity, and entropy… C’mon, spouse o’ mine, etc.! Try these out! Great fun for the family, and for any philosophers that might happen to be around.