(WARNING: Spoilers abound!)
Even more so than their short Big Business, Two Tars demonstrates how Laurel & Hardy used the “reciprocal destruction” device in a way that “makes sense,” where other comics used it just for cheap laughs.
It all comes about when Stan and Ollie, as sailors on shore leave who have picked up two good-time girls, get stuck in a long and frustrating traffic jam in the middle of nowhere. If ever there was a comic device aimed at venting frustration, this one is tops. The various drivers (one, with a prim moustache, is Edgar Kennedy; the guy with dark glasses is an L&H prop man who engineered the sight-gag cars) have plenty of reason to be burned up before Stan and Ollie ever get there.
Of course, for Laurel & Hardy, a line of cars with frustrated drivers is like ducks in a shooting gallery. Let’s see, we’ll tear the headlights off of this one; we’ll knock the guy’s belongings off of that one; and heck, we’ll take the wheels out of this one altogether. And don’t forget that guy with the tomatoes!
The penultimate shot of molested cars chasing after Stan and Ollie at a policeman’s behest is even funnier than the final shot. It’s like watching Laurel & Hardy get personally escorted into the ninth ring of hell.