His Favorite Pastime already shows that the anarchism, if you will, of Chaplin’s character isn’t that funny unless there is something for it to work against. Chaplin mock-danced in a lot of his shorts, so he was regarded as a great dancer – until he made Sunnyside (1919), where he danced to no purpose and it felt empty. Similarly, Chaplin could be a funny drunk, but not if all he was called upon to do was to be a funny drunk, as he is here.
The first half of the movie shows Charlie boozing it up at a bar and antagonizing most of the patrons. Occasionally, he also goes out on the street, where he flirts with a woman at her car, until the woman’s husband comes along to break it up.
The movie’s second part shows Charlie drunkenly heading home but going into the wrong house; to top it off, it is the home of the woman with whom he was flirting. Hmm, I wonder how the husband is going to react?
If Charlie had been given the slightest motivation to act up against these people, we could enjoy the retaliation. As it is, we can’t help feeling what it would feel like to try having a quiet evening in a bar and have this lout ruin your night.