Andy Hardy the College Years
During the 30s and 40s Mickey Rooney made a name for himself playing Andy Hardy in a string of movies in fact at 16 movies it could be seen as quite a franchise. I've only seen a couple of these Andy Hardy movies and whilst everyone is a little different they tend to work to a formula where Andy learns some important life lessons with some guidance from his father. As such "Love Laughs at Andy Hardy" is in many ways just another movie in the series which works through that formula but it doesn't really matter as it has its heart in the right place and is definitely entertaining with Mickey Rooney on fine form delivering fun scene after fun scene.
Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney) returns home after being discharged from the army and all he wants to do is get back to Wainright College so he can ask Kay (Bonita Granville) to marry him. But getting back to Wainright is not the easiest of things and even when he does return it seems like every obstacle possible shows up to stop him from asking Kay to marry him. Will he succeed or will young Andy Hardy learn another important life lesson?
So in this episode of what could be called "The Life of Andy Hardy" we have are young man returning home after military service and is desperate to propose to the woman he loves, Kay, the woman he met whilst at college before he went away. What follows is for the most quite obvious as young Andy struggles to get back to college to let Kay know how much he loves her and when he does make it back there are plenty of obstacles in his way as well as some disappointments. But by the end of it all young Andy will have learned an important lesson with a little help from some fatherly advice. You have to say it is all rather twee and overly nice, painting this false picture of perfect family life and so on but it delivers warmth and plenty of fun making up for its twee-ness.
Most of that fun relies on Mickey Rooney and he never fails to deliver with scene after scene of comedy. It's not subtle comedy with plenty of hamming it up for the camera but watching Andy trying to find the right time to tell Kay how he feels only to be thwarted at the last minute is simple and amusing. And so is the series of comedy scenes at the Hardy home where Andy finds himself locked out in his Aunts Kimono as whilst the gags are obvious Rooney delivers them perfectly so you can't but help smile even laugh. But Rooney doesn't just deliver the gags and with a storyline which features some disappointment and disillusionment he also delivers some real emotion and a scene where we watch Andy fighting back the tears as he is given some bad news is a wonderful one.
Whilst most of the jokes rely on Mickey Rooney and he owns every single scene he is in the ones he shares with others are just as good. It maybe obvious that the diminutive Andy will end up taking a giant of a woman to the college dance but it is so funny especially with the brilliant slapstick dance routine which sees Rooney jumping to dance with the extremely tall Coffy. That's not the only shared gag and an earlier dance scene with the amorous Isobel is just as funny as he tries to escape from her clutches. Of course these all feature Mickey Rooney but it is the comedy that the supporting actor brings which adds to the fun.
Talking of which the supporting performances are good even if Mickey Rooney owns every single scene he appears in and he is in most of them. Lewis Stone is solid as his father Judge Hardy and Bonita Granville is perfectly restrained as Kay. But for me it is the performances from Lina Romay as Isobel Gonzales and Dorothy Ford as Coffy Smith which are so good, not because there acting is brilliant, in fact it is quite hammy, but because they are Rooney's equal in the scenes they share.
What this all boils down to is that "Love Laughs at Andy Hardy" is a good old fashioned fun movie. It's not complex or original and in-fact is all very obvious but between the life lesson learned and scene after scene of comedy it is entertaining. And it's entertaining because Mickey Rooney delivers great comedy time and again be it on his own or when he is sharing a scene with others.