My entry into the world of the silent Charlie Chaplin comedy was undoubtedly going to be a dangerous move. Safety Last and its impact on the world of film is notable, but its comedy has aged rather poorly and doesn’t elicit enough laughs to watch ever again. That problem, surprisingly, doesn’t make its way into The Kid, possibly one of the most notorious and well-remembered comedies of the silent era. That was my sole reason for picking this one as my entry point.
Chaplin’s style of comedy blends slapstick and extremely visual humour with a few stunts that, at the time, were impressive feats of danger for the sake of a few laughs. Chaplin running across rooftops, getting into fights and just about anything that involves him falling over can muster a chuckle or two up. I’ve always respected those that can both star and direct in their own films, and Chaplin is a neat addition to that setlist.
I’m not sure whether or not the supporting cast really matter all that much. This is very much Chaplin’s show to steal, and he does so swiftly in the opening moments of the movie, with Jackie Coogan and Edna Purviance paling in comparison. A lot of this is down to the fact that these are serious characters, with no real jovial charm beyond their interactions with Chaplin’s Tramp. Some of the humour with these characters transcends the believability and realism of the previous scenes, while other times the humour doesn’t go far enough in making for an interesting watch.
The dream sequence in particular towards the end of the movie is a mixture of both of these problems. Encompassing a general dream-like state, it feels out of place in an otherwise lightly touching and strangely surreal comedy. These dream sequences aren’t all that funny either, the joke really being that Chaplin now has a pair of angel wings, and nothing more than that.
Certainly rewatchable, and a far stretch better than a lot of modern comedy outputs, Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid is a great entry point piece into his silent film work and by all means a wholly enjoyable comedy. Chaplin was a great performer, and I’m glad to see it and confirm it with my own eyes.