Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Movie Review - The Three Stooges

One of my favorite Three Stooges shorts. I could watch Curly carry the ice up the stairs all day long!
Part 2 is here!

  When I was a kid, I’d rush home from school and turn the TV to Channel 11 (WPIX) and Officer Joe Bolton would play 2 of the Three Stooges movie shorts with a small introduction, so I was hooked on the Three Stooges from an early age. I was never a purist that insisted on only having Curly in the show for me to enjoy it. I liked Shemp just as well even if he wasn’t quite as funny as Curly. Along with the Abbott & Costello TV show, the Three Stooges were my main source of laughter in a decidedly unlaughable youth and when I see them on TV I stop and watch and feel good to be reminded how funny I thought they were.

  I find that taste in comedians is a very personal thing. My 2 favorite comedians are Curly from the Stooges and Rodney Dangerfield. I can just look at them and start laughing but there are a lot of people that just don’t get them. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never gotten John Candy, Will Ferrell, or Chris Farley, but I recognize that other people fall over themselves laughing reciting scenes from their movies or SNL skits. So it wasn’t a surprise to me when Kathy and Ben and even my neighbor Don didn’t want to go to the movie. But that didn’t stop me from working extra hard to take care of my chores to make the 4:30 show.

  I didn’t know what to expect from the movie, but I was hoping it would have a lot of the silly violence and sound effects that the Stooges were known for. Moe getting hit in the head with a hammer; Curley carrying a ladder and turning to his left and clocking Moe and Larry and then spinning around to look for them only to clock them again as they scramble to their feet. Moe trying to stick his two fingers on his right hand into Larry’s eyes but Larry sticks his hand up to block the fingers only to have Moe use one finger from each hand to poke Larry’s eyes….PRICELESS. And I haven’t even started with all of Curly’s antics (N’YUK N’YUK N’YUK, Woooo Woooo Woooo, SOITENLY!).

  The Three Stooges brand of physical comedy was put down by the critics in the 1930’s as ‘lowbrow’, but they were well in line with the more highly regarded Marx Brothers in tweaking the noses of the moneyed classes. There are countless depression era scenes where the stooges gain entrance to a party in a mansion as plumbers, workmen, artists, or musicians only to incite the modern-day matrons and monarchs to engage in food fights, mud-slinging, or paint-throwing fights worthy of anything in ‘Animal House’. I always crack up when to see some old guy in a tuxedo have his wig taken off by Larry’s violin bow and have the guy sitting next to him slap him with it after it got deposited in his glass of champagne or a society ‘Queen Bee’ wiping a cream puff off her expensive hair do and flinging it at another society patron who returns the favor. The Stooges always showed the rich as just needing the proper provocation to release their ‘inner Stooge’. What fun could the Stooges have had nowadays with the industrialist millionaire Republican nominee Romney and the Harvard intellectual millionaire Obama’s upcoming presidential campaign?

  The movie spent about a half hour getting the Stooges updated to the 21st century by showing them in an orphanage as infants and showing them as the orphans no one wants, but after that it is more like an extended Three Stooges short with the boys working at the same orphanage as the oldest orphans in history and venturing out into the world to raise $830,000 to save the orphanage. Even though the Stooges are dressed like bumpkins with too short pants and white socks instead of bums or refugees from a Goodwill store, they fit in with their modern day surroundings to create the requisite amounts of mayhem. My favorite scene was when they snuck into a hospital with Moe and Curly dressed as nurses and are assigned to change dozens of diapers in the maternity ward. The resulting ‘human water gun’ fight almost had me needing a change!

  The Stooges somehow manage to save the orphanage after another 45 minutes of misadventure and hopefully the stage is set for sequels to follow. I thought Moe and Curly‘s characters translated well to the movie, but I also thought Larry’s character got lost in the shuffle. In the shorts, he is the most well-read and musical of the Stooges, but the movie showed him too much as an imbecile for my taste. I also didn’t like how when Moe split with the group, he became a big success as member of the ‘Jersey Shore’ TV show and Larry and Curley remained failures. I think Moe needs the other two as much as they need him and the movie made it seem the exact opposite. But those complaints are small potatoes for this Stooges fan. The movie was much better the TV advertisements promised and did a great job of bringing the classic Stooge brand of comedy to the big screen. I really enjoyed it. The Three Stooges aren’t for everyone but I think anyone who enjoyed the old movies will have a great time watching this 2012 version.

  At the end of the move the producers felt compelled to implore the audience not to beat each other up with hammers or put chainsaws to their friend’s heads. They went to great pains to show how they were just using props and sound effects. Have we really gotten that stupid as a country? When I was a kids, we all grew up watching the Stooges and Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner as kids and none of us ever thought that if we took a sledgehammer to someone’s head there would be a ‘Boink’ sound and the victim would just say ‘OW’ or if we shot someone with a rifle, their head would turn black and be OK 2 minutes later or if we fell off a cliff we would be OK after the small puff of smoke. But the Stooges and Warner Bros. cartoons are deemed ‘too violent’ for kids today. Maybe there would be less violence if kids were exposed to some of this brand of 'silly violence'.

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