Plot: A hapless waiter (Charlie Chaplin) can’t seem to do much right, causing chaos in both the kitchen and the front of house. His table service leaves a lot to be desired and his customers seem fed up with his clumsy antics, while his boss is always hot under the collar over his job performance. But the waiter looks forward to his break, when he can head to a roller rink and strap on some skates, to glide next to his beloved girlfriend (Edna Purviance). As if fending off rivals and trying not to fall every few seconds wasn’t enough, the waiter soon finds himself at a high society party, where even more mishaps await.
Entertainment Value: This classic short packs a lot into under half an hour, with three locations and stories on showcase. All three are connected of course, but the shifts between the locales means new comedic potential and Charlie Chaplin knew how to make the most of that potential. I’d rank the skate scenes as the highlight of The Rink, as Chaplin is able to display his physical acrobatics well, made even more difficult than normal thanks to the skates. The humor is consistent and the set piece moments shine, with Chaplin’s rivalry with Eric Campbell at the segment’s core. The other scenes are more than capable as well, each designed to give Chaplin plenty to work with, both in terms of costars and various props. The downside is that we aren’t given much in terms of character work or narrative, only the lightest of elements, with the focus being on the slapstick style laughs. I think Chaplin’s humor works better with some character woven in, but even so, The Rink is a lot of fun and for fans of classic comedies or Chaplin’s genius, is one not to be missed.