The All New Adventures of Laurel and Hardy in “For Love or Mummy”

How I Spent the Rest of My Career, part 3

I was going to open this review by saying I might be the least qualified person to review a Laurel and Hardy film.

After all, I didn’t grow up watching Laurel & Hardy; the only awareness I had of them was through the odd caricature appearance in Looney Tunes. I couldn’t have distinguished them from Abbott & Costello as a kid. I watched a few of their shorts for my review of the Perfect Strangers episode “The Gazebo”, but nothing in those grabbed me enough to watch others. I’ll never be a Laurel & Hardy fan.

But then I realized I’m only the third person to have ever watched this film. Since the other two are wearing straitjackets, I technically am the most qualified.

Released on home video in August 1999 to negative reviews (well, review, anyway), The All New Adventures of Laurel & Hardy in “For Love or Mummy” represents at least four years of effort on the part of Larry Harmon to shake a few more dollars out of the Laurel & Hardy brand. According to a 1998 USA Today article*, Jim Carrey and Chris Farley had been approached to star in the film in 1995. But finally, over the course of five weeks in early 1998, TANAoL&Hi”FLoM” was filmed in Cape Town, South Africa. It would be more than a year before the film’s VHS would start showing up in Wal-Mart bargain bins around the country.

Can you believe it even got released on DVD a few years after that? Only a film so utterly forgettable could find its way into stores twice. Since there seems to be a dearth of high-resolution images of the front of the DVD, I scanned it in at 1200 dpi.

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Philip J Reed bought me this, likely as revenge for making him watch The Trouble with Larry. Every fetid second of this film is one I brought down on my own head.

I’ll go ahead and spoil it for you: this is a shambles of a movie in almost every respect, even down to the semi-literate person who stayed up late one night copying the DVDs.

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Now, I can convince some of you of the movie’s quality by telling you that it was directed by John Cherry III, who directed (and helped write) every single Ernest film. But I’m a diehard Ernest fan, so if anything this made me more interested to see it. For me, the worry set in when I saw that it was written by Jeffrey Pillars and Joseph Dattore. Their only other writing credits are for Ernest in the Army, the very last Ernest film, and the only one in the series I’ve never wanted to rewatch. John Cherry III is the only director I’ve ever watched whose work got worse over time, and this movie makes it quickly and painfully obvious that Jim Varney was about the only thing elevating the uninspired material Cherry oversaw. That Cherry spent over 15 years directing some of my favorite movies and evidently learned nothing about what made them work makes this one doubly disappointing.

It’s very likely, though, that many of you reading this have watched neither Ernest Goes to Seed nor the original Laurel & Hardy films; so it’s my job to venture into this unholy crypt and report back on what I find.

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We open in Egypt, 3,000 years ago. You know, there’s really a lot of ancient technology that’s been completely lost to time. For instance, according to this shot, ancient Egyptians were the first to cruise around the dunes on their four-wheelers.

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The New Announcer of Laurel and Hardy tells us that Pharaoh Houtah let some demon shack up in his soul and wreak terror across the land. And then Houtah died before he could marry, which is important because this demon couldn’t wreak quite as much terror as he wanted to unless his peepee was getting touched on the regular. But then Houtah died before he could find a woman who had been born under a specific astrological combination. “When the Belt of Orion smacks Isis’s ass” or something like that.

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Plus part of the mythology is about snakes, and since that used up the writers’ knowledge of ancient Egypt, the backstory is over.

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I don’t believe in karma, but naming something in a way that says it’s the first of many films (or books, or trading card series) appears to be the best way to guarantee it won’t be.

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It takes three screens to get the whole title out! I’m going to be a grammar snob here and say that they’re technically saying that the New Adventures themselves will be appearing in this story. I know, I’m niggling, but they had at least four years to come up with a title.

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Are these things that happened in ancient Egypt? Are they things we’ll see? It’ll be another 8 minutes before the movie actually gets out of the credits, so I’ll go ahead and tell you the answer is “no” to both questions.

Even without a history of watching Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy knock each other about, my main expectations going into this around in regards to their personalities & dynamic, and that they’ll get into physical comedy with props.

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Our introduction to the characters establishes the former pretty deftly. Laurel is worried that they’re going to be kicked out of the library, and Hardy responds brashly and with promises of success. Sounds about right, but I guess I wasn’t aware that Laurel spouted malapropisms every third word. I’m not too embarrassed by this lack of knowledge. The original Stan Laurel didn’t know either.

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I’ll give the writers credit in trying to be inventive in how to turn an everyday object into something funny. Hardy is using a photocopier to take headshots of himself for campaign flyers. Sure, and why not? Part of the reason the original duo were constantly taking on various jobs is that they were broke; and they were broke because they were screw-ups.

As for the physical comedy, though, it’s a failure right out of the gate.

Hardy cycles through a number of poses and facial expressions, his head a foot away from the photocopier’s platen, yet every single sheet of paper it shoots out is the same thing:

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He’s running for Grand Poobob of the Eternal Order of the Nile, by the way.

A note on physical comedy involving setting-based props. Pipes can actually spray water if they’re not attached correctly, but they won’t start suddenly spraying hot coffee. You can launch a rake handle at your face by stepping on its tines, but it’s not going to kiss you Roger-Rabbit style when it gets there. Sometimes a frying pan takes on facial features post-impact; but the physics are clear. Unless breaking an object’s function is the joke, it serves no purpose. When you cheat, how you cheat, and how often you cheat determines the overall tone of a piece. But this isn’t man vs. machine, this is necessity breeding invention. Hardy’s face eventually gets smashed on the glass, so there’s no reason to show it printing that until it happens.

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Unless the bit is there just for me to make a meta-commentary joke on how this whole movie is an attempt at reproducing Laurel & Hardy’s image, and it coming out completely wrong. If that’s the case I should send John Cherry III some flowers.

They’re also trying to hide from the librarian (Christine Weir, Death Force). The way this plays out is that she sees them–

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–she sees them again–

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–walks away–

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–sees them a third time–

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–and only gets upset when she finds that these obviously homeless men have left an IOU in the honor-system photocopier’s money box. Do I have to point out that photocopiers–or libraries who care about reimbursement–have never once worked this way? It feels petty of me to call attention to the fact that Ernest writers have never been inside a library.

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She swears vengeance. I’m a librarian, and this kind of portrayal doesn’t bother me. No one ever saw this. I’m fine with a minor villain chasing these guys down for money, but why not start out at Kinko’s, instead of at an institution widely known for providing free services?

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Farouk Bin Abdullah (Philip Godawa, The Fairy King of Ar), has gathered a bunch of swarthy goons in bar-hopping clothes in his storage space to tell them that he finally tracked down a woman who met all of those astrological requirements they said at the beginning of the movie. I’m still awake enough at this point in the movie to know that he must have the mummy somewhere in the room, but…

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Have you ever heard the one about prisoners telling each other jokes? These prisoners have been in regular and long enough enough contact each other, and they have long since determined the exact finite number of jokes they now collectively know is low enough that, subsequent dozens of retellings, they can be enumerated and referred to by number. They need only call out “Number 8!” or “34!” to tell a joke. A new inmate matriculates and, in an attempt to fit in, calls out “Number 15!”. No one laughs, and another prisoner mutters “Some people just can’t tell a joke”.

For a bad guy introduction, this is the equivalent of a #15. John Cherry III has been filming and writing these kinds of scenes for so long that he’s doing them in shorthand. He’s forgotten to establish important details like what this bad guy hopes to gain (he makes vague reference to politics), how he relates to his underlings, why he’s in a position to know or do anything about this mummy, where he is, or who this bride-to-be is.

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Also, why is it we need this particular Houtah full of bones? Is the demon that possessed him trapped in that body?

Sorry for belaboring so much of this at the outset, but I really want to convey to you the level of quality we’re dealing with here. The height of the script’s competence is ironic foreshadowing, like archaeologist Leslie Covington (South African actress Susan Danford, Dazzle) saying to a TJ Maxx mannequin “Ready for the pharaoh! Maybe if I wear your outfit to the reception I might find my own Pharaoh, mm?”

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Then her dad, Henry Covington (F. Murray Abraham, Muppets from Space), walks in asking her why she’s spending all this time on history when she could be out getting pregnant. Compared to the storage space scene’s poverty, there’s an economy of story here. Their upcoming museum display will showcase his own find–Houtah’s tomb–but Henry suggests the whole thing is worthless. Abraham feels like he belongs in a much better film: he convinces you there’s more than what’s in the script simply by telling you with his posture and pauses that he’s not saying the half of what’s on his mind. He’s letting on just a little that he’s tired and doesn’t want his daughter to miss out on life like–we assume now–he must have. This may be his last chance to encourage Leslie, or it could be entirely something else. Some of his lines are at odds with this characterization, but Abraham does his best to make them feel like Henry’s idea of a joke.

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Whoa! I completely didn’t put it together earlier that The Boys are in an Egyptian-themed fraternal order! It’s almost like these 2.5 stories were fated to meet!

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This movie feels like an Ernest movie. I’m having trouble articulating all the reasons why that is, but I think a lot is the familiarity of Cherry’s sense of pacing and composition, as well as minor things like film stock and budget. But making Laurel and Hardy essentially Shriners is the first definite thing I can point to that would be right at home in an Ernest film.

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Now, yes, Laurel and Hardy were in the film Sons of the Desert as members of a lodge of the same name. There’s even a Laurel and Hardy fan society that borrows the name. So, sure, it’s an homage to the characters’ history. I mean, in terms of who Laurel and Hardy are, is there much else to say? They’re malleable depending on a story’s needs; in one film they’re wandering bums, in another they’re married. Each of those is at odds with the other, but lodge membership is orthogonal to both. It’s true whether they’re fixing a house or waiting tables or in the Army.

But so why not call this lodge Sons of the Desert? I think it’s equally likely that this movie began life as an Ernest script–Ernest Goes to Egypt, I imagine–and hadn’t begun filming when Larry Harmon reached out to John Cherry. (The final two Ernest films were also shot overseas, and I have to wonder if Ernest Went to Africa simply because it was cheaper to film there.) This movie features a very Ernest setting, with a very Ernest goal.

Part of Ernest’s magic is that Jim Varney had developed an all-purpose “rural” character. His commercials ran in regions all across the United States because he really could be your next-door neighbor, the happy-go-lucky guy who was always trying to find an opportunity to better himself. This extended to the movies. Ernest never shot for the stars, just for the first rung on the nearest ladder. He wants to rise from maintenance man to camp counselor, from golf-ball collector to Army Reserve member… or from lodge member to potentate. Ernest’s world (like much of the 1990s South) felt stuck, still kicking around the rural lifestyle of, say, 1975-1985, where something like this was still important. By 1999, I’m sure fewer kids were aware that Shriners even existed. Ernest, too, was becoming a relic, so a lodge (in Florida!) would slot right into his universe and you wouldn’t blink.

Not that it doesn’t here, but: if this is a movie for kids in 1999 (and it’s certainly not for anyone else, in any other year), having your two leads in clothing from the 1930s is already stretching things. Why have them as members of an organization generally associated with old men driving the tiny cars in the parade? If this movie is interested in the idea of how Laurel & Hardy would fare in the modern world, it’s getting further away from that by the minute.

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Here’s a question to ask yourself as we move forward: what, other than taking away Laurel, would you need to change for this to be Ernest Goes to Egypt? All Laurel does in this scene is throw a hat and wetly chew some Bubble Tape. Bronson finally found a way to make me wish he were doing a terrible accent instead.

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After Kowalski (Rick Rogers, The Sexy Girls), whom we’re asked to believe is some kind of pompous ass, wins the election, he introduces Dollar-Tree Tim Curry, Farouk. Farouk is a member of the lodge’s “sister fraternal order in Cairo, Egypt”. How in the world would you sell the Brotherhood of the Nile to Egyptians? Would you join “The Order of the All-American Apple Pie Cowboys”?

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He asks the lodge brothers if anyone would volunteer to help move his ancient artifacts, including the mummy of Pharaoh Houtah, to the museum that night. Laurel offers his and Hardy’s help–but uh-oh!–thanks to that Bubble Tape Laurel spit out, the seat of the chair is now stuck to…

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…Hardy’s back. Okay.

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Now we’re on a ship. Was that storage space in Egypt? Also, I’ve never had to move a mummy, but I’m damn sure you don’t ship them upright like Real Dolls.

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Pharaoh Houtah thinks about his bride-to-be and astrally projects a boner.

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If Farouk is the bad guy, the movie’s not doing a good job of convincing me of it. We know he’s got money! He has a bunch of healthy-looking hired goons, plus he’s got this swank travel bag for the sarcophagus, emblazoned with a custom-designed “Treasures of King Houtah” patch, and it’s likely he financed shipping all this stuff to the States. Going out of your way to make a bunch of Floridians you’ve never met feel useful is a true charitable act. And if all Farouk needs is two guys to move some boxes, essentially he needs no guys and an extra hour.

Why hadn’t the Covingtons, or the museum, arranged for transport before this looming exhibit opening? Somewhere, a frantic museum director is on her 30th cigarette of the day. Museums and libraries wouldn’t be in such dire financial straits if people just paid the damn nickel for a photocopy!

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Twelve minutes in, we finally get some actual physical comedy.

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It’s fine.

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It’s competent, even! But now that we’re here, why did it take so long?

I haven’t seen enough of the original films to know how much story there typically was or wasn’t, but placing this story in the 1990s messes with what I thought was the basic formula. There wasn’t a hell of a lot of infrastructure in the United States of the 1930s, and Laurel and Hardy could walk around a town and end up hired to fix a house, transport a corpse, or move a piano. But we’re here now, so I guess I should try to enj–

*sigh*

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nevermind, here’s Bronson’s ballsack. It’s not like I prefer to have fun while watching a comedy movie or anything.

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We cut to a scene of Farouk and Yesman Arafat climbing up the museum steps. Farouk’s line is ADR, which usually means a scene was cut, or a plothole filled in; but all the line conveys is “I hope they don’t break the mummy”. Someone, please give these writers a gold star for remembering the textbook definition of dramatic irony!

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Farouk meets Leslie and Henry, and mentions that he’s very familiar with Henry’s work. You’d assume so, right? Since Henry found Houtah’s fucking tomb? Farouk introduces himself to Leslie by asking if her hymen’s intact.

Now I have no idea which scene to trust, or even how much I’m supposed to assume Henry is supposed to know about Houtah’s ring, now on Farouk’s finger.

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Then the Brotherhood of the Nile show up in a parade about the length of a tractor-trailer. Maybe it’s supposed to read as them being self-important, but I’d like to think the joke is that a parade float is the only vehicle they have big enough to transport a sarcophagus. It’s a very thoughtful touch.

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So here’s where the film’s location budget and John Cherry’s bad decisions collide. We’re shown that the parade float is maybe 200 yards from the museum steps, based on where the Grand Poobob is standing. He’s shouting at them over a walkie talkie to slow down, but Laurel and Hardy aren’t listening to him: they’re too busy having a five-minute conversation about absolutely nothing.

The parade float’s oars break off. Hardy falls over. Who cares.

Hardy falls instantly in love with Leslie, and imagines the same “meadow run” scene you’ve seen a thousand times.

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After paying for Farouk’s actor to get that nice tan, there wasn’t enough money in the budget to pay for the rights to pay for the Overture from Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet.

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Someone was so eager to make a joke about Hardy “accidentally” slugging a woman in the face that they forgot that this was a fantasy sequence.

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While Hardy presumably fantasizes landing some body blows, Laurel says their full names: Stanley Thinnius Laurel and Oliver Fatteus Hardy. This is a fitting moment to mention that these two are meant to be the great-nephews of the original Laurel & Hardy. I was about to say that raises more questions than it answers, but most of the questions I came up with I realized I don’t give a shit about.

This movie has some strange priorities. Does it feel like it’s legitimizing itself by trying to force more continuity than the original films ever bothered with? Is it an attempt to head off criticism that these actors don’t have the same chops? There will be new Scooby-Doo cartoons until the rapture, and probably even after that; I don’t expect them to tell me how they fit into the Scoobyverse. I also feel that a grand Zelda chronology adds nothing to my experience of the games.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask that, if a comedy wishes to address some real-world concern, it make a joke out of it. The 1993 Super Mario Bros. film had two options for dealing with Mario’s full name. Instead of just ignoring it, the filmmakers decided to lean into the silliness that there was a real-ass guy was walking around Brooklyn with a name like Mario Mario.**

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Leslie asks The Boys if there’s anything she can do to repay them, the camera wanders off to Farouk fiddling with his ring, and then there’s a slam-bang cut to Leslie standing in front of Houtah, so entranced she almost opens the sarcophagus.

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I honestly thought for a second that Farouk, sensing a rival in Hardy, was making Leslie hallucinate. Turns out it’s just the worst edit I’ve ever seen.

Henry stops her from opening it. Not because it would expose the mummy to oxygen, or because it would fall on her, but because of the dark archaeological past these two shared. We learn that Leslie may have blocked out memories of childhood digs, and Henry’s happy about this.

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You all wanted to see where Laurel and Hardy take a shit, didn’t you?

Apparently, what got cut from the end of two scenes ago is that Leslie invited The Boys to a party at the museum that evening. The funniest thing in this scene to me is that Laurel and Hardy’s idea of dressing up for an event is to wear the exact same clothes, but even without that, this is a nice moment. Getting to see the two of them relate to each other and mess around with shoe polish is a relief after the last few minutes of stapled-together story.

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Since we’ve only seen her in her work clothes, the movie has to tell us explicitly that Leslie has dressed up special for this occasion. It does this by having Henry comment on it… so did they not come there together? Does she live in the museum?

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Farouk offers a thank-you gift to Leslie, you know, for working so hard to organize a museum exhibit to showcase his archaeological findings. What an asshole, this guy!

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Dad and Hardy bemoan the fact that Hardy won’t get to put his dick in her. Hardy suggests he’s willing to consider any sort of violence towards Farouk.

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Meanwhile, the mummy gets restless. I feel you, man, I’m not sure I can take any more of this setup either.

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I’m so proud of this movie, choosing for its hero a silent, sweaty Nice Guy who stands and stares at the object of his affection for hours instead of talking to her. Finally some representation!

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Laurel kicks a serving cart, which launches Hardy into Farouk. This is an odd choice. We just saw Hardy say he wanted Farouk out of the picture, but instead of exploring what he come up with, the movie decides to just have an accident happen. I’m not saying that this movie should be anywhere near so competent as to make this an opportunity for Hardy to realize fate has shown him how terrible the consequences would have been if he’d carried out an actual plan; but I am saying that there are ways to have that accident happen during some gambit to neutralize Farouk.

The Grand Poobob gets so angry at how clumsy they are that he tells them to go stand near all the really expensive shit in the exhibit.

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Laurel gets his hand stuck in a pot. He throws his hat, it topples a row of display cases, and the scene is over.

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All I can think about is how Ernest would have mistaken a scarab amulet for a live one, tried to kill it with a pharaonic flail, gotten the flail caught on his vest, used a papyrus to wipe dust off his face, joked that Anubis could play fetch with himself, and opened up a canopic jar and said “Ewwwww” before he’d even get to the display cases.

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Houtah, tired of waiting for someone to hilariously knock him over, gets out of his box all on his own and leaves in search of a better movie.

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Everyone finds The Boys and accuse them of having a third partner who made the mummy disappear. The Grand Poobob, revealed to be a police lieutenant, throws them in jail, knowing full well these two have no other friends.

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They’re sharing the cell with Barney the Biker, who’s played by Jeffrey Pillars, one of the writers. He appears to be wearing about five different outfits all at once. Bikers have been so regularly used as the cavalry in kids’ comedies that it’s hard to even be remotely worried for Laurel & Hardy’s safety right now.

Actually, it was already hard to be worried for them, or care about whether Hardy gets the girl. We’ve been given no reason to actually like these two at all.

I mean that as a compliment! This movie is very close to achieving a balance between the audience wanting to see them get banged up a litte, but still cheering for them.

What keeps it from getting there completely is that Laurel & Hardy are a little too removed from the world around them. In the 1930s, their clothing and mannerisms were only a little out of date, something that became more exaggerated over time. When we watch Charlie Chaplin or Groucho Marx, those aspects of their characters aren’t as obvious. Chaplin’s Tramp, I must assume, could only get ahold of fancy clothes that had long been thrown out. Groucho’s walk was an exaggeration of an upper-class American fad from the 1890s; when he first started performing in Vaudeville, it would have been as recognizable–and as funny–as, say, if someone today put on Hammer pants.

Here, Laurel and Hardy appear almost a century out-of-date. Ernest’s outfit, on the other hand, never looked terribly out of place. He may have occupied his own off-kilter world, but he still had a foothold in ours. He wanted to fit in, and he was just enough like you, or like someone you pitied in real life, that you would feel his pain. Ernest was a brave, ambitious soul trapped inside an idiot, and it was a tragedy that he understood enough of the world to want more and never have it.

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Somewhere out there was a woman for Ernest. But it would be another 10 years or so before a hipster might mistake Hardy for a kindred spirit. I’m not saying that reviving Laurel & Hardy could only ever be a non-starter, no matter how well this movie makes that argument. It’s just that Harmon & Cherry put an obstacle in their own way, telling you that The Boys have no idea what it is that makes others hate them.

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Some time later, Henry is studying photographs of the mummy’s footprints, at most a few hundred yards from where the actual footprints are. He’s not learning anything here that he didn’t instantly understand the moment he stood in the exhibit hall. And we’re not learning anything new about what Henry knows: F. Murray already made a face about the footprints in the earlier scene.

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I have no idea where this is taking place now. It could be the museum’s 3rd floor restroom for all I know.

You can see some cardboard boxes in the background of this scene, which might indicate that we’re back in the storage space. Which, by the way, the movie didn’t bother to give us a location for; so maybe it was in Florida to begin with. Should I be impressed that this giant snake-headed fireplace (?) survived in Houtah’s tomb, or that they managed to excavate it and ship it and get it into an Uncle Bob’s Storage all in one piece.

I mean, that has to be the case, because there’s no way that the prop was built for an earlier draft of the script that took place in Egypt. John Cherry III wouldn’t stand for that kind of slapdash production. The mummy just kind of wanders around until–

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Farouk: I don’t think so, Tim.

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Farouk sends Houtah off to kill Hardy–

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–wait, sorry, let’s stop so we can see the end of Barney and Laurel’s heart-to-heart about the great puppies they’ve known and loved. I think it’s funny, but I’m more struck by how surreal it is that two of my worlds are together. We’ve got Bronson Pinchot, so upper-class he’d strangle a cashier for asking how he’d like his change, in a movie that he thought could be the pinnacle of his career***, sitting right next to an Ernest writer, both of them wrapped up in Larry Harmon’s wish that kids would love the same stuff he did.

Houtah thunk it?

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Anyway so like Farouk let this thing out of his sight to go wander around downtown Tampa**** or wherever with only a low-quality photo of Hardy’s deformed face. I’m not going to question Farouk sending the mummy to neutralize a rival who, if left unchecked, might throw a pie at him. It makes sense to test out your control over a demon before letting it have sex and becoming more powerful. But even if Farouk didn’t know that Poobob Kowalski had jailed The Boys, he could follow the damned thing (little undead humor there for you), see it was headed towards a jail, and and then ditch that part of the plan.

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You know, not alert the entirety of the police to your scheme and give them something to follow right back to you.

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Endless cuts back and forth between three grown men working themselves into a laughing frenzy and a mummy murdering peace officers is the kind of discordant material I’d only ever trust in the hands of someone like David Lynch or Todd Solondz.*****

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Cherry, on the other hand, thinks he needs to confirm for you that the bullets did indeed enter the mummy but did not hurt it.

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Houtah begins the ancient Egyptian death rite of putting your arm around someone’s shoulders and walking in a tight circle. Laurel keeps trying to hit the mummy with the various weapons lying around the jail cell. Florida was really committed to those stand-your-ground principles even back then, huh?

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Laurel and Hardy make their escape by stealing a police car that was sitting, parked, with its flashers on. I can’t really blame Cherry for making everything five times as obvious as it needs to be; after 10 years doing Ernest flicks he knew exactly how much help his audience needed.

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Was this like the most expensive prop? One-tenth of the movie is this shots of this thing.

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Now Houtah is on the back of a firetruck which is keeping pace with this lights-activated police car. I have no idea, folks.

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Now Houtah is on top of the police car and Laurel and Hardy bounce up and down in their seats. They drive straight into Bozo World and into a haunted house.

Something which I think can be a sticking point in newer entries in franchises with a long history is when the type of humor seems mismatched. For instance, this is the second time that Hardy smells the mummy and blames Laurel for letting a toot uncommon. Now, I love a (good) fart joke, but they can be jarring when it’s clear someone else’s voice is coming through a beloved character’s mouth. I was going to mention Fozzie’s fart shoes in The Muppets (2011) as an example that struck me as misplaced, only to then find out that the Muppets boast a long history of similar gags. (Really what threw me was hearing a Muppet say “fart”, I think.) Sure, the original Laurel and Hardy probably never made a fart joke in their life; but I’d bet they would if they had been a 90s comedy team.

The reasoning I’m even bothering to mention this is not to put down the fart joke. The gag registers as discordant because Bronson Pinchot and Gailard Sartain are actually doing an admirable job of portraying Laurel and Hardy. I wouldn’t have believed farts were even part of their world. A lot of Hardy’s movements are in his hands, and Sartain embodies that physicality in a way that makes Mark Linn-Baker look like he wasn’t even trying in “The Gazebo”. I think Sartain is overdoing it, but that’s appropriate to the increased overall level of what’s going on visually and aurally. Bronson was already losing some of his muscle mass over the course of Meego (and wearing untucked shirts towards the end to cover, I think, some fat gain), and dropped enough of it to look like Laurel. More on Bronson a little later.

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(Scene transitions continue to be edited by a trained chimp, by the way. One earlier cut off the end of a music sting; and this one–where The Boys run through the wall of the haunted house–isn’t allowed to hang on the house’s paintings long enough for you to register that they’ve run right through their monster counterparts.)

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So Laurel and Hardy got caught by the mummy at the haunted house–and then they show up like a minute later at the museum. Glad we went all that way just for ten seconds of a highly-conceptual joke of a real mummy in the same room as a fake mummy.

You know, for a man with a tortured archaeological past, a man we assume must be the one guy who’s aware of the exact dangers involved in everything going on, Henry Covington sure is just sitting on his ass. When he learns (a third time) that the mummy is alive based on The Boys’ story, he informs them that there’s a curse.

The mummy was already a Pharaoh who got possessed by a demon, and the Pharaoh’s specific penis was evidently so great that the demon was willing to stick around thousands of years until that very penis touched a very specific vagina (may I mention also that 3,000 years is enough time to throw off constellations?), willing to spend millennia in a box waiting for someone else to come along to find him a bride… all this shit going on and now there’s a curse too?

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Or, actually, no–now Farouk is talking directly to the demon, so why the fuck do we need a mummy? Is this one of those schoolyard thought exercises where you decide if having a dog’s head would be worth being a billionaire? Is the curse that you can rule over everyone else on the planet but you have to live with an ancient pile of rags that smells like shit?

Akhenatendure much more of this. I’m doing thutmost to make this movie make sense, since I know I’m neferefre watching it again. Sorry. I’m done trying to ramses puns into places they don’t really fit.

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F. Mummy Abraham tells the story of how he and his wife and daughter found the tomb of King Houtah, and mostly I’m amazed that they appear to have found it without any digging or even standing out in the hot sun. Henry opens the sarcophagus, somehow misses the giant snake that slithers out, and then he and his wife leave their kid unsupervised. The mummy stirs and grabs Leslie.

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A curse is when unforeseen death befalls graverobbers. I’m pretty sure a corpse trying to fuck your kid is a different category altogether.

They close the casket, a snake bites Mom, Mom dies. Somehow Henry’s flashback includes Farouk taking the mummy’s hand (and ring) right after he left. He says that everyone he told the story to thought he was crazy. I’m also having trouble believing that thirty years passed with no other Egyptologist wandering into the open tomb, or anyone stealing anything from it.

Henry picks the only solution to this dilemma that involves letting him continue to sit around and do jack shit: he tells Laurel & Hardy to go check up on Leslie at her house.

If you pressed me on the question, I’d probably say that my favorite Ernest movie is Ernest Scared Stupid, despite the fact that it’s one of the less grounded ones. (If you’ve never seen it, it’s about Ernest fighting a troll.) The All New Hundred-Word Film Title of Laurel and Hardy is borrowing that film’s structure here as far as Henry’s character goes.

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In Ernest Scared Stupid, Eartha Kitt plays the cranky old recluse who turns out to have the ancient knowledge that’s the key to saving the day. Basically a form of Joseph Campbell’s “Mentor” archetype. She had a run-in with the troll as a child, and knows where the troll was buried. But her backstory, and the knowledge she possesses for how to fight the returned evil, doesn’t have any reason to come into play until the moment she has a reason to believe the troll has returned, which is when Ernest tells her.

Henry Covington fills that same role, and gets those same beats, but he knows everything before Laurel and Hardy tell him. I’m beginning to believe Henry’s the live-in custodian, or else he would have done everything in his power to keep the museum from showcasing the very mummy that killed his wife.

And speaking of how much different characters know, it’s not like Farouk had some vague notion that he’d find Houtah a wife in Florida. The movie’s now established that he was in the tomb and saw Henry and Leslie there. He’s likely spent thousands on transporting the entire contents of Houtah’s tomb across an ocean when he could have just kidnapped Leslie and brought her to Egypt.

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Seriously, each piece of this movie contradicts another. Henry now tells them that the only way to stop Houtah is to get him back in the sarcophagus, when we all saw Houtah get out of it all on his own.

Another f’rinstance: the police are now answering a call about the property damage at Bozo World. They stand around wondering what in the world could have caused it, and Kowalski’s sure it’s Laurel and Hardy. Not, you know, the seven-foot-tall guy who killed eleven officers the night before.

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The owner of Bozo World, by the way, is played by Larry Harmon himself.

The Firesign Theatre once referred to Benjamin Franklin as “the only President of the United States who was never President of the United States”. Larry Harmon was the only Bozo the Clown who was never Bozo the Clown.******

I’m overstating it, but only by a little. Larry Harmon was one of the original performers hired to make personal appearances around the country as Bozo the Clown. Harmon saw the licensing potential for the character, bought the rights, and started rolling out local TV shows in multiple markets. If Harmon was ever on one of those shows, the best I can tell is that it wasn’t for very long. Buck Wolf looked into Harmon’s decades of claims of being Bozo’s creator or “the original Bozo” around the same time as this film came out. (I can’t find that 1999 article, but Wolf wrote on the matter a couple of times more for ABC.) Wolf’s work appears to have led, in 2004, to the International Clown Hall of Fame revoking the lifetime achievement award it had given Harmon in 1990.

Appearances by old performers in films is generally a nice surprise–Lou Ferrigno in Hulk (2003) or Bill Murray in Ghostbusters (2016)–but Harmon is the producer of Laurel and Hardy Love an All New Mummy. He’s using that practice to once again sell the idea that he was the original Bozo, metaphorically whipping out his dick, boasting simultaneously his ownership of these two properties.

I’m not going to argue that Bozo’s creation should be credited to any given performer as some testament to their individual genius; the clown was created as part of a work-for-hire assignment for Capitol Records. But Laurel and Hardy are a different story. I don’t think there’s doubt in anyone’s mind that the characters are the direct creation of their original performers. Harmon secured the rights to Laurel and Hardy from Stan Laurel himself, when Stan was on his deathbed. Harmon claimed that Stan Laurel said to him “Listen, lad, you’re going to walk in my shoes now. Don’t hurt them or let anybody hurt us or our widows.”

Maybe so, but people on deathbeds have been known to say similar things to nurses and oxygen tanks. And maybe Harmon did truly watch and love Laurel and Hardy films in his youth. But the fact that Harmon brought the same entrepreneurial tactics to both properties (cartoon series, merchandising, C&D lawsuits) says otherwise. Any deathbed transfer of ownership instantly opens itself up to criticism and suspicion, and those looking for ammunition for an argument against Harmon’s goal of protecting the Laurel and Hardy name need look no further than this film.

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It’s fascinating to me that, in the same year that Harmon was revealed as a jerk for stealing others’ legacies, he was providing proof of exactly that type of behavior with this movie.

Remember how that mummy was able to track down Hardy in a jail? Well, John Cherry didn’t, because The Boys have slept all night out in the open.

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A bird shits in Hardy’s mouth and he chokes on it. (Or maybe it’s meant to be a pecan? There’s no bird visible, just a sound effect. I have no fucking clue, and I kind of doubt the writers did either. At any rate some sort of brown bolus goes down his throat.)

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Laurel gives him the “hemlock manure” and the shit ricochets and smacks the Librarian upside the head.

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They discover Farouk leading Leslie out of her house and discussing having dinner later that night. So did they sleep together or what?

Laurel and Hardy hail a taxi–instantly–in this recently-constructed residential neighborhood.

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Yeah, I wouldn’t have picked them up either.

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Henry Covington, after “learning” of Farouk’s dastardly plot, has spent the past twelve hours reading his favorite translation of the bible so he’ll be too tired to help. He says “Leslie” as though something’s just been revealed to him. I guess he finally realized the little girl in the flashback was also his daughter.

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And now it’s evening again as Farouk leads Leslie into a restaurant. Did Laurel and Hardy chase this taxi 10 hours up the Florida coast?

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I think, at this point, I can stop harping on the fact that there’s no reason for Farouk to have made these choices, or for the story to go this direction. But as bad as all that is, the movie now takes the cake for the worst scene I’ve ever watched.

Every single choice it makes is the wrong one.

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Farouk drugs Leslie’s drink. On one hand, fine, it’s the setup for a drink-switching scene: this is a cartoon tactic. But Farouk is doing this in public, with potential witnesses, and he’s going to have to carry a drugged woman to another location to carry out his plan. All that’s minor, though: drink switching is always, always to knock out the hero. But this is all in the context of a mummy wanting a bride. Drugging a woman’s drink to make this happen takes this children’s movie directly into rape territory. Farouk clubbing her and dragging her off would be less jarring.

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Hardy disguises himself a sweaty Italian waiter so he can take away Leslie’s drink, and encourages both of them to watch the restaurant’s stage show, which Laurel somehow made start right that moment. And no: you point out the show and switch the drinks, and then you’re done.

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Laurel dances on stage with some store-brand Fly Girls and sings along to Billy Preston’s “Nothing From Nothing”; and Farouk drugs Leslie’s replacement drink. The dancers do some Egyptian poses because I don’t fucking know.

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Hardy shows back up as a slobby photographer, dropping his flashbulb in Leslie’s drink. (I had to watch this three times to even figure out that’s what happened.)

Farouk drugs Leslie’s drink a third time, and Hardy switches the drinks in full view of Farouk. I’m baffled by this. It’s a strange choice to begin with to have your hero fail at a drink-switching gambit. If the joke is that Hardy is too dumb to pull off a Bugs Bunny trick, that could lead to a decent trope subversion, but Hardy’s competence–and everyone else’s intelligence–is vacillating by the second. He can fool people with a cheap disguise, and dropping a flashbulb into a drink takes a high amount of coordination, but he can’t wait until someone is looking away.

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Now he and Farouk just openly trade the glasses’ places while maintaining eye contact, except for one switch where Hardy deliberately looks away, because the writers had no idea how else to have him fail.

And finally, when Farouk rips off Hardy’s fake mustache, Laurel shows up and drinks the drugged drink. Hardy tells Leslie about the drug, demands Farouk drink the one he thinks is drugged.

Farouk drinks, Laurel passes out, and Leslie still agrees to Farouk’s request to have another drink with him, at this very restaurant, despite full evidence that someone has drugged an unknown number of drinks. Leslie drinks, Leslie passes out.

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Pharaoh Houtah shows up and starts throwing people around. It’s a good thing the mummy got there by complete coincidence at that very moment, since the writers hadn’t devised any way at all for Farouk to control its behavior and plan something like this.

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Like 20 seconds after everyone in the restaurant starts screaming, Farouk finally notices Houtah coming toward him, and uses his ring again. So if he’s having to tell it that it’s supposed to chase Laurel and Hardy now, why did it show up here at the restaurant?

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Those must be some really thick doors for the kitchen staff not to have heard fifty people evacuating the place. Houtah slips on some cooking oil and slides into the freezer.

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Laurel and Hardy return to the museum, where there’s absolutely no one working security…

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…except for deep inside, in the Houtah exhibit. Somewhere, I assume, M. Furry Abraham is drawing circles on a map and shouting “Of course! Egypt!”

Poobob Kowalski was waiting for Laurel & Hardy to show back up and try to steal the sarcophagus. The dialogue here is supposed to amuse us because Kowalski is too biased against them to hear them saying that they know exactly where the mummy is. He’s taking them in solely on suspicion and not, you know, on actual charges of breaking out of jail.

It’s possible these are the last two police officers in all of Florida, because word of what happened at the restaurant hasn’t gotten to Kowalski yet.

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A mix of physical comedy and OSHA non-compliance frees The Boys from Kowalski, and they take the suddenly-too-heavy-but-if-I-remember-correctly-actually-lighter-now sarcophagus.

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Hardy pushes it off a ledge and it lands on Laurel’s hands.

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Meanwhile, Houtah bangs on the freezer door.

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The Boys steal the museum’s pickup truck and determine that the only way to get to do a physical comedy bit where one of them is in the sarcophagus is to pretend that you can’t just lean a sarcophagus in a truck’s bed, or use bungee cords to tie it down. (Seriously, steal any pickup truck in Florida, and I promise you’ll find bungee cords somewhere in or on it.) One of them has to weigh it down, and Hardy gets in.

Meanwhile, Leslie wakes up in the storage space.

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If I weren’t deliberately pausing every 30 seconds to get screenshots, I never would have seen the Farouk Industries logo on the boxes. Now the whole movie makes sense!

Leslie: My father’ll save me! He’ll realize what’s going on!

In all honesty, most comedy films don’t make me laugh as hard as that one line did.

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Now it’s noon again, and Laurel has fixed a flat tire. Then they’re at the docks again. This movie must take place along the entirety of Florida’s eastern coast.

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Hoo-hoo, Stanley, says Hardy, ho-ho, there’s a spider, let me out of here Stanley. Tell US customs agents to do their jobs, Stanley, hoo hoo.

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The spider makes its escape. Leslie makes her escape. I’m stuck with this movie for another twenty minutes.

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Hardy walks around in the sarcophagus, promising his friend physical pain.

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I could re-watch this tiny sequence a thousand times and I’d still never be able to figure out how a passing forklift launches the sarcophardy into the air.

While the movie works out its own private trigonometry of moving these pieces around the geography of noncontiguous Florida, let’s talk about Bronson’s performance. That’s the whole reason I came here in the first place, so I might as well, before the movie’s over.

It’s obvious he had some respect for Laurel and Hardy, possibly even a great deal of respect. From–where else–the 1997/1998 interview with Michelle Erica green of www.littlereview.com:

…Pinchot was ecstatic to win the role of legendary comedian Stan Laurel. “The Laurel and Hardy thing is worth having stuck it out in show business all these years,” he says. “If Perfect Strangers was the gulag, this is like walking back into St. Petersburg. It is simply the best thing that has ever happened to me.”

Ironically, Perfect Strangers was the genesis of the actor’s involvement with Laurel and Hardy. “You know how, towards the end of every sitcom, they do fantasy episodes – everybody fantasizes that they’re Elvis, because they run out of ideas? We fantasized that we were Laurel and Hardy. The guy who owns the rights to the characters, who’s the original Bozo the Clown, said that if I needed any pointers, he knew Stan and he would happily spend some time with me. So I went over to his house and he was so pleased, because he cared so much about Stan – he actually lent me Stan’s shoes, which fit exactly, I should have known as soon as the ruby slippers were on.”

If you can ignore the possibility that Harmon stole those shoes off of Laurel’s feet seconds after his death, it’s actually the most wholesome story about Bronson and shoes we’ve ever seen.

But with his “deep-set eyes and Al Pacino nose,” Pinchot did not exactly look the part – nor had his recent workouts, which gave him muscular legs and a broader chest, made him any easier to costume as the bandy-legged [sic], “There are a lot of people with little tiny rabbit eyes and turned-up noses who would have photographed a little bit more like him,” the actor admits. “It was a wonderful, terrible shock to get it. But once I was in character, everybody started to say I was a dead ringer, even though of course I’m not. I was trained to do it without realizing I was trained to do it.”

Do you mean you didn’t realize you had studied, trained for and played the part six years earlier, Bronson? “Trained” almost seems like a feint towards humility from Bronson, like he’s still trying to send the message that these things come preternaturally to him.

Even so, this may be the most ego-free performance I’ve seen from Bronson since early Perfect Strangers, where he’s focussed almost entirely on the character and not on taking attention away from anyone else. Given his track record of sitcom characters who mix up their words, it’s not out of the question that the one most jarring aspect of the film’s interpretation of Laurel–his constant malapropisms–was at Bronson’s request. But that doesn’t exactly feel right. Given that Larry Harmon wouldn’t even let Bob Bell (arguably the most famous and influential Bozo performer) wear the clown suit for his (Bell’s) induction into the International Clown Hall of Fame, it’s hard to imagine him putting up with an ego of any size during production.

Laurel’s dialogue I’m willing to ignore as just a strange choice on the part of the writers, or perhaps even one of necessity, if it were the case that he was added to what started life as an Ernest script. Aside from that, Bronson has the mannerisms down–the hair-scratching, the walk, the faces, the crying. Bronson is most like Laurel when he’s crying and mewling, face- and sound-wise. If I can find any major points of contrast with the original Stan Laurel, it’s that Bronson’s interpretation involves doing all of these things almost constantly, and that completely gone is Laurel’s untroubled, quiet smile. Stan Laurel himself was certainly subtler, more nuanced in when and how he’d exaggerate a motion. His act was a reserve that would eventually reveal itself as idiotic bliss, giving way to clumsiness and inadequate verbal expression; unlike Oliver Hardy, who would give away his own boorishness the moment he loudly claimed the opposite. (If I’m off-base here, remember I’ve only watched like three of their films.)

But watch an old Laurel & Hardy film–or any 1930s film–and ask yourself what decisions directors and writers had to make, what wasn’t available to them in terms of camera & film technology or theories of cinematography, what they understood in terms of audience tastes. Any movie in 1999 would need to simply have more going on, visually and aurally and dialogue-wise than any movie in 1939, just to be able to compete for attention. Bronson’s interpretation is a different, very talky one, but it’s not out of line with other trajectories involved here.

Even with Bronson doing his best, his performance doesn’t save the film, or even recommend it. Gailard Sartain is the second-most capable actor from the Ernest regulars*******, and his Oliver Hardy is the most fully-realized interpretation in the whole film. Ultimately, Laurel’s part feels tacked on to a story about a bumbling Floridian would-be hero, and whether that’s because Hardy (being the more verbose) was always the driving force of the stories, or because this was originally an Ernest movie, feels like a toss-up.

It’s disappointing that these two actors were giving their all in a movie that was made so incompetently you can visualize distribution executives scrunching their noses in disgust as they turned Larry Harmon down.

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So here’s Laurel, crying about how fat and dead Hardy is, until he sees the sarcophagain.

Henry Covington’s grand plan to save Leslie is not to, like, try to retrace the steps of Laurel and Hardy and go to her house, or visit the now-empty police station. He just calls her house and shrugs when she doesn’t pick up.

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Leslie rushes in, telling him that Farouk kidnapped her. “Farouk,” he says, “I should have known.” Yeah, no shit.

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The movie fails to escalate the joke when the Librarian pulls up on her scooter. It also just plain fails to make a joke–she advances on Laurel, Laurel jumps onto the sarcophagus.

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Back at the Covington home–

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At this point in the movie–after his kidnappee escapes–Farouk should be escalating his attempts to secure Leslie. But he could have sent Houtah to kidnap Leslie at literally any point before. But this movie’s so concerned with showing F. Murray Abraham read a book in a dark room that there’s no time left to think how someone would actually use power over the undead to accomplish their goals.

Actually, now that I think about it, a character in an Ernest film doing something that makes sense does count as escalation.

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We’ve finally gotten to the scene in the movie the DVD cover promised us, but–

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–the luggage is another indication that some earlier draft was meant to take place in Egypt. For as little as the scenery gives you any indication whatsoever that this is Florida (seriously, half of the external shots take place dockside anyway), I wonder why the filmmakers couldn’t just say that Cape Town was Cairo.

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Barney the Biker shows up to tow The Boys the 10 yards back to shore.

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Meanwhile, Farouk pops a boner over whatever it is he thinks he’s getting out of this whole deal with Houtah, or the demon, or whatever it is on this page of the script.

Laurel and Hardy start fighting because… well, you’d expect that a final-reel fight between buddies in a buddy movie would be because, oh, idunno, one of them was acting in his own self-interest trying to win the heart of a woman, threatening the duo’s relationship. But really it’s just because it’s been a few minutes since the last time they squabbled.

John Cherry understands enough about filmmaking and story structure to know that you can heighten a movie’s stakes by letting the audience know that time is short for saving the day; and he knows you can achieve this by cutting back and forth between the impending doom, and the hero’s struggle to get there. This section of the movie spends maybe 20 seconds on each set of characters before switching back to the other. But there’s no true sense of urgency. All of the scenes with Laurel and Hardy are just Hardy saying “we need to get there to save Leslie!”; and all the scenes with Farouk and Leslie are preparations for who fucking knows what.

A suspense story has to let you in on exactly what’s going to happen if the hero doesn’t use their knowledge or skills in time. But can you tell me what’s going to happen? Will Farouk be made vizier to Pharaoh Houtah? Will the mummy be restored to life? Will he smell as much like a fart as he did before?

Is there even any hope left for containing the mummy in the sarcophagus?

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“The F is for Fantastic” Murray Abraham finds Lieutenant Grand Poobob Kowalski in the exhibit hall. Who can possibly care about either of these characters at this point?

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Laurel and Hardy charge the mummy with a lance, skewering it. Houtah tells them a possible path to take to reach the Silver Monkey, and to beware of the Temple Guards who protect three specific rooms.

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Wait, Farouk is going to marry Leslie and be possessed by the demon? So remind me why we needed a mummy? Was it just part of some supernatural contingency plan, only there to fight off people who might stop the demon?

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Multiple takes of the same hallway-doors sequence are left in. Hardy knocks Houtah down with a statue.

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We see the mummy getting up, and then Farouk points his ring and demands the mummy get up. If you were only getting paid in Ernest Rides Again  posters, would you have put forth any more effort than this editor did?

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Somehow this getup makes Farouk look even more like a middle-school principal. He excitedly asks the demon to do his thing while Laurel and Hardy scramble up a ladder to escape Houtah.

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Houtah falls into the *ahem* OPEN *ahem* sarcophagus and is rendered immobile. I’ve never seen a movie set up so many rules for how things work and ignore every single one. It’s tedious to have to bring it up this many times. But you know what really pisses me off?

We saw Laurel chewing Bubble Tape at the beginning of the movie and it never once comes into play here. The writers had no clue they had hit on the perfect mummy-bandage surrogate.

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Farouk begs a cobra to kill Leslie (that was the fucking plan???), and she wakes up and pushes him into the cobra’s strike range. Farouk dies. What the fuck is any of this.

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Henry and Lt. G. Pb. Kowalski show up, and then a giant CG snake flies out of Houtah’s body. This movie is fully committed at every step along the way to making sure you know that everything that came before was pointless.

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Laurel works out a Rube Goldbergian way of shutting the sarcophagus, and throws his hat at an oversized candle. It doesn’t work–but then Houtah shaking the building makes the candle fall over. It’s obvious it would have happened without the hat.

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A winch pulley knocks the sarcophagus’s lid shut, and you see that the demon can, um, no longer get out of the box with giant holes in it. Which the demon-powered mummy got out of all on his own when its seal wasn’t compromised.

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I can’t believe I’ve managed to go this long without saying I hate this movie. I hate it. It could have been simply a lackluster entry in the early-90s reboot canon alongside Little Rascals, Brian Donors, Dennis the Menace, The Brady Bunch Movie, Casper, The Addams Family, and The Beverly Hillbillies. But the consummate ineptness of storytelling (encompassing rising/falling action, editing, internal logic, geography, timeline, cause/effect, and motivation) makes this movie feel like a double punch of finding a toddler drawing on your walls, and then realizing they’re using their own shit instead of crayons.

Bronson was brought on board this movie in late 1997, and the movie was filmed in April 1998, both prior to Larry Harmon losing whatever social cachet he had left when his Bozo claims were contested. Harmon’s choices of director, actors, and cheap filming locations were ones of desperation even before everyone realized what a jerk he was. I love Ernest Goes to Jail, but even I’ll admit you’re in trouble when its director is the only person that will return your calls. Sartain likely came on board as a result of Cherry directing (or vice versa), and it certainly doesn’t sound like Bronson went through any sort of audition process.******** In retrospect, the statement in the USA Today article that Jim Carrey and Chris Farley were approached sounds like nothing more than Harmon’s boasts.

Maybe Harmon waited a few years too long to make a new Laurel & Hardy picture, or maybe karma was finally catching up with a man who had spent 50 years wringing money out of funnier people’s work.

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Leslie makes a promise to have dinner with Hardy after she returns the artifacts to Egypt. I don’t know why Farouk’s company doesn’t come pick them up. I also don’t know why I’m wasting my time asking more questions about this movie.

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Then they walk outside, and Leslie makes a promise to have dinner with Hardy after she returns the artifacts to Egypt. You read that right.

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The Librarian drives a forklift into Laurel and Hardy, killing them. I’ve never been so proud of my profession.

Next week: we finish this series with Bronson’s roles from 1998 through 2019 (though there’s an even chance the post will run late)

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*‘New Adventures’ rests on classic comedy laurels. (1998, April 24). USA Today.

**If I didn’t lose you with the Zelda criticism, the fact that an admitted live-action Super Mario Bros. fan doesn’t like this movie should say something.

***Bronson, from the same 1997/1998 interviews with Michelle Erica Green we discussed last week: “Literally within fourteen days after Meego was cancelled, I had the greatest part known to man.”

****Shriner headquarters

*****Though I would expect it from, say, Charles Band or Lloyd Kaufman, even they’d be telling you a different joke than Cherry is. I think what I’m trying to get at here is that Lynch would make the laughter uncomfortable; Solondz would make the laughter meaningless; for Charles Band and Lloyd Kaufman, the mummy would be the joke, and they’d have the mummy stomp through a strip club tearing off tops (Lloyd Kaufman would have added a giant bandaged dick).

******See also the Firesign Theatre’s spoken-word album I Think We’re All Bozos on this Bus. It’s absolutely nothing to do with any of this, but maybe you’d like some actual comedy after reading about this failure.

*******Including Daniel Butler, Bill Byrge, Mac Bennett, Bruce Arntson, and the criminally-underused Jackie Welch. The best place to see all of these people in one spot is the Saturday morning Hey Vern! It’s Ernest program.

********There are a few sources online claiming that Jim Varney was slated to play Laurel, but each appears to have copied its text almost verbatim from each other. I can’t find an ur-source for the claim, and my messages to John Cherry III and Jeffrey Pillars have as of this writing not been answered. I have serious trouble believing this, though, given that Bronson appears to have been contacted in November 1997 about the role, and Varney said that his first indication of having cancer was a nosebleed while filming Treehouse Hostage in August 1998.

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3 thoughts on “The All New Adventures of Laurel and Hardy in “For Love or Mummy”

  1. I went through several years of being an avid Laurel and Hardy fan due to a strange period when cable TV first came to my end of town and the basic package consisted of six broadcast channels (at last you could watch any of the six at any time rather than being stuck with a different combination of three based on the wind direction), a home shopping channel, and the Christian Broadcasting Network (later The Family Channel), which aired Laurel and Hardy shorts from midnight to two.

    I’m glad the lineup had expanded to “Anything other than that” long enough before this came out for me to have lost interest.

    Like

    • I was the same way with The Three Stooges in the late 90s. It must have been Turner Classic that aired the shorts, usually three in an hour. I kept track of the ones I had watched, trying to see if I’d ever see them all. I was sort of peeved when I found out they chopped out a few minutes from each one to pack that many into one block of time.

      Like

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