Big Business (1929)

Big Business is a 19-minute long Laurel and Hardy short film in which they play Christmas tree salesmen who get in a destructive fight with an angry potential customer.  The holiday elements are fairly light here - aside from a joke or two at the beginning and end, the fact they're selling Christmas trees as opposed to literally anything else is irrelevant to the story or comedy. But it's still technically set at Christmas, so let's take a look.

The plot here is simplistic. Laurel and Hardy visit a couple houses without luck before reaching the home where things go off the rails. It starts with the tree (then Hardy's coat) getting repeatedly stuck in the door, requiring them to ring the doorbell, which further annoys the home's owner. The silent picture format is useful for smoothing over the obvious plot contrivance: it's easier to avoid confronting why they're unable to explain the misunderstanding when no one's actually able to speak outside the occasional title card.

Eventually, the home's owner gets so annoyed he shows up with hedge clippers and destroys the tree they're trying to sell, which results in Laurel and Hardy damaging his property in retaliation. This causes the customer to take revenge by damaging their clothes, which causes Laurel and Hardy to damage his property further, and so on and so forth.

Before long, Laurel and Hardy's truck has been demolished, and the lawn and house have been badly damaged. By this time, a police officer parked across the street has taken notice and comes over demanding to know who's responsible. Everyone starts crying, initially blaming each other, until eventually the cop starts crying and accepts that everyone's sorry. Laurel and Hardy give the man a cigar and wish him a Merry Christmas.

Then, as soon as they think they're out of sight, start chuckling. Unfortunately for them, the cop notices and chases after them while the homeowner laughs at their misfortune... at least until the cigar they gave him blows up in his face.

While the slapstick isn't as funny today as it must have been nearly a century ago, it's still mostly entertaining. There are a few genuinely great jokes in this, too. It's well done, and the destruction is impressive - that's an actual house purchased by the producer, and the damage is real. I also like that the story concerns men prioritizing anger and pride over self-interest and common sense - that will always be relevant.

That said, there's nothing particularly memorable or exceptional about this short. And, as I said at the start, this is really only a Christmas piece on a technicality (though I like the irony of them wishing him a Merry Christmas before giving him an exploding cigar).