21 February 2009 | MartinHafer
A bit better than average,...but not much.
In case you don't know it, Stan Laurel had a film career before being teamed with Oliver Hardy. Stan starred in or co-starred in many shorts during the late teens and 1920s. The quality of the lot varied considerably. However, despite a few really good films here and there, the bulk of the films are, at best, average and not even close to the quality of the premier comedians of the day. Considering I am one of the biggest Laurel and Hardy fans (having reviewed just about all their films--even the foreign language ones I could get hold of), my seeing Laurel as a less than stellar solo act should carry some merit, as I really WANTED to enjoy these movies more.
As far as MOTHER'S JOY goes, it's better than the average Laurel film but it certainly isn't extraordinary in any way. While the story line is pretty good, the laughs are a bit sparse.
The film begins with rich James Finlayson telling his lawyer he wants him to find his estranged daughter and her grown son. It seems that after running off with a sap (Laurel), the lady tried to return home years earlier but the proud Finlayson threw them out after getting a look at her ugly baby (also Laurel in baby costume). However, the years have softened Finlayson and he wants to do right by them. Not surprisingly, the grown child is also Laurel--a standard cliché that a child is the exact duplicate of the father. And, like his dad, Stan is a klutz and an idiot. Despite Finlayson's best efforts to introduce Stan to society, he invariably screws things up and in the end everything is a mess.
Mildly funny, but that's about all. Worth seeing if you are a rabid fan, otherwise, not necessary.