It's obvious that this seems more attuned to the visual effect of a prank--here, a boy ties a string between a washer-tub handle and a man's chair, so that the chair tips over as the woman works the wringer--than to the child himself. I will not denigrate the gag: It is satisfyingly orchestrated, with a nice application of basic mechanics to upend the chair and its occupant, with a particularly pleasing--well-timed as well as -aimed--plunge by Grandpa into the water.
I am distracted only by the bad boy himself, who seems to exist not as any child I ever knew but merely as a starting-lever of the gag-machine. I'll admit it is the kind of thing I would have liked to have attempted in my own childhood, but had neither the opportunity nor temerity--nor freedom, it appears, as the boy seems intent not on parental retribution but simply the joy of chaos--and this may be the attraction: as in Edison's ersatz fires--or even executions of insurgents--moving pictures provide a safe haven for disruptions of all kinds. I may worry at some point over the leveling effect of cinema--all upendings are equally staged, thus free of repercussion--as it moves from domestic to political shenanigans, the stakes rising in direct proportion to our acceptance of their equal unimportance--after all, these are mere entertainments--but I will not worry today. For now, I'll ignore that school-marm voice in me that fusses over where this may lead us, and simply enjoy the precision with which that boy catalyzes mayhem.