HELPMATES is a true masterpiece of slapstick, absolutely one of the finest and funniest two-reel comedies ever made by Laurel & Hardy, or anyone else, for that matter.
Following a wild party the night before, Oliver Hardy awakens to learn his charming bigger-than-he-is wife is returning home early from her trip. Not good news. She will arrive that day, at noon. He must meet her train. Hardy mournfully surveys the debris strewn everywhere he looks. The house a mess, hungover, what will he do? The panic-stricken Ollie quickly phones his friend, Mr. Laurel, for assistance.
Will hope triumph over experience? No. Emphatically not. heir housecleaning efforts fail in spectacular fashion, as usual. Stan's repeated attempts to clean things up are well-intended but unavailing. A succession of accidents upon more accidents makes everything worse until the frantic but persistent Ollie loses all his clothes, his dignity, his temper, the rest of his belongings, and his wife, too. He does gain a black eye -- which we first see upon his retum, alone, from the train station. Arriving home battered -- without the current Mrs. Hardy -- Ollie is devastatcd to see Stan has unwittingly burned the house down in an attempt to start a cozy fire for the Ioving couple in the fireplace. There Stan stands, and cries, hosing down the smoking shell of what was once the Hardys' happy household. Pulling himself together, Stan sighs, "Well, I guess there's nothing else I can do." Ollie wishes to be alone, sits down stoically in what's left of a chair and begins to reflect on this catastrophe. Just then thunder is heard above the roofless home, and the skies open up with rain as Ollie looks out into the camera at us for understanding.
Several published Laurel & Hardy historians, while acknowledging that other films are more fomous, select HELPMATES as Laurel & Hardy's single best work. Decide for yourself. If what you want to do for twenty minutes out of your life is laugh, just laugh, and laugh until you ache, screen HELPMATES.