February 11, 1916 [One Too Many]

Freud tells us that jokes serve two general purposes: aggression and exposure—and so it is in film comedies. And to laugh at such violence (against the human form, to be sure, but also all bodies and institutions), I must set aside judgment—as with One Too Many, in which Babe Hardy demands of his lackey, “”Here’s $50. Get me a baby!”—and later, “Get a flock of babies!”—as well as “Now get me a wife!” The situation, of course, is contrived: His rich uncle is visiting, and he wants to meet Babe's wife and child. Even the lackey has to dress as a baby, as kidnapped infants howl, multiple wives arrive (with husbands following) and the entire mess wallows in crowded excess, everyone kicking, fighting, sprawling.

Again, the expected salmagundi; but I found myself relishing it, laughing at Hardy’s vigorous panic, the hapless lackey’s rough treatment, even the pitiably crying babies. Here, cruelty comes as a kind of relief: Everything is batted around, including Hardy; no one is safe, and so even safety itself is not an option; at least the babies are fed (from multiple hoses) and the lackey kissed—and kicked. So it seems that Freud is correct: There's nothing we secretly desire more than to smash all idols and toss the shards at each other, laughing all the way.


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