It took me a while, but I finally found my first Charlie Chaplin film I didn't 100% hate. Maybe it has to do something with the fact that his famous Tramp character seems a bit further away, maybe because it's not just a silly romance (though there is still that of course), but I didn't feel all that irritated watching this film.
Chaplin plays a soldier in WWI who dreams of becoming a true hero. He's a bit of a screw up, still he's sent on an important undercover mission that takes him behind enemy lines. While his skills are severely lacking, it's his rash and uncontrolled behavior that seems to be keeping him out of harm's way.
For the most part, it's exactly the kind of slapstick I dislike. Expressive acting and silly physical comedy I don't find funny at all. The difference here is that the pacing feels slightly toned down and that there are some decent visual gags (like the scene where Chaplin dresses up as tree). It's not much, but at least it's something.
A very typical Chaplin production, only shorter. It's a purer comedy compared to most of his feature length films, but in the end that didn't make all that big of a difference to me. I simply can't stand Chaplin's most famous character (the Tramp), which makes his films very difficult to sit through.
Chaplin plays a convict who just escaped from prison. He arrives in a small, God-loving town, people there mistake him for a pastor. Because he has nowhere else to go, he decides to play along, but he really has no experience and of course it doesn't take long before he starts messing up.
I'm not a big slapstick fan to begin with, but there's just something about Chaplin that irks me. I don't think he's funny at all, the jokes are dire, the film is slow and feels like a selection of random sketches and there's way too much repetition. It's simply unpleasant from start to finish.
I don't think I've ever encountered a director who is as one-note as Charlie Chaplin. All his films are alike, all his performances are virtually identical. Chaplin offers basic slapstick comedy and that's it. If you're lucky you get an overarching plot, if not it's just a collection of sketches.
Chaplin plays a help at the Evergreen Hotel in the idyllic town of Sunnyside. Safe to say, Chaplin isn't all that helpful. He's lazy, he messes up his chores and annoys the customers. The only thing that keeps him going is Edna, but when a city boy arrives in the town Edna quickly falls for his charms.
The bottom line is that I'm simply not a slapstick fan. I can stomach it combined with some action and stunt work, but when it's just slapping gags and expressive gestures, I get annoyed in no time. The fact that Chaplin keeps recycling gags and characters only makes it worse.
And so my quest continues. Chaplin is no doubt my least favorite actor/director ever, but it's hard to believe he never made something that could at least spark a little joy or admiration in me. I keep giving his films a chance, but no luck so far. A Dog's Life looked at least somewhat promising, but not even a cute dog couldn't save this one.
The problem with Chaplin's films is that it is 90% Chaplin, so if you can't stand his signature Tramp character, there's extremely little left to enjoy. Chaplin's pure slapstick isn't really my thing either. I can appreciate it in combination with stunts (like Keaton did), not so much when it's just physical comedy.
The story is as simple as can be, with Chaplin and his dog slumming while dreaming of wooing girls. He steals some food, tries to sneak in a bar and when his dog finally digs up some money, he has to escape two criminals who want to rob him. That's pretty much it. At least the dog was cute, he deserved a better companion.
Early Chaplin short that feels like a try-out for his later feature films. I'm not a big Chaplin fan to begin with (somewhat of an understatement), seeing him do his less elaborate jokes and routines didn't do a whole lot to change that. I just can't stand his characters and his particular kind of slapstick. I'm sure Chaplin fans will love this though.