Slapstick films are comedy films where physical comedy that includes pratfalls, tripping, falling, practical jokes, and mistakes are highlighted over dialogue, plot and character development. The physical comedy in these films contains a cartoonish style of violence that is predominantly harmless and goofy in tone.
Silent film had slapstick comedies that included the films starring Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, the Keystone Cops and Harold Lloyd. These comedians often laced their slapstick with social commentary while comedians such as Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy and The Three Stooges did not contain these social messages. Slapstick is about uninhibited action and timing, which may include being made to look foolish or to act with tom foolery.
There were fewer slapstick comedies produced at the advent of sound film. After World War II, the genre resurfaced in France with films by Jacques Tati and in the United States with films It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and The Great Race, starring the Stoic, aloof and mild mannered Buster Keaton, also known as The Great Stone Face, as well as the films of comedians like Jerry Lewis.