JB: Busy Bodies
is a near-perfect Laurel and Hardy film, containing a handful of their
best slapstick moments. It is almost a throwback to their silent
shorts. Watch carefully and you will see that Stan does not utter a
single word until about eight minutes into the film!
In my previous review of this short, I said that it lacked the relationship-awareness scenes of its spiritual cousin Towed in a Hole. But upon rewatching, I realize that Busy Bodies is all about that relationship. Stan does something to get Ollie into a predicament, immediately tries to help, and Ollie puts his complete faith in Stan every time. Each time Stan tries to help, he creates a new problem, but Ollie's faith in him to fix things never wavers. Proof positive of what many, including Babe Hardy himself, have said about "Ollie": he truly is dumber than Stan. A joyous twenty minutes.
JL: Busy Bodies contains some of the most violent slapstick of any Laurel
& Hardy sound short. It's filled with gags that would fit a Three
Stooges film, but it's a much quieter film that the Stooges would have
made. The Stooges punctuated their mayhem with cries of "Woo-woo-woo,"
"Nyaaaah!" and "I'll tear your tonsils out!". Because of the faith that
Ollie puts in Stan, as John B. notes, he makes no threats, no cries, no
yelps of pain as Stan tries to shave the paintbrush bristles on his
chin with the blade of a plane. Ollie instead suffers silently, as
though such indignities are an expected part of his daily routine. And
unlike the Stooges, maintaining one's dignity is always a priority with
Laurel & Hardy. After Ollie has completed his horrific journey
through the maze of ducts in the lumber yard, Stan does not ask "Are
you all right?", but instead says "You dropped this," as he hands Ollie
Plot was never especially important in a Laurel & Hardy film, and Busy Bodies might be the most plotless short they ever made. The ultimate "playing with tools" film, it is a perfect illustration of L&H's quiet approach to extreme slapstick. One of their best, as well as one of their most archetypal comedies.
Copyright © 2012 John Larrabee, John V. Brennan