Monday, March 21, 2011

The Three Stooges in Caddyshack

Ah, one of my favorites. A childhood favorite, if you will. Because, really, when one gets right down to it, comedies like this have to appeal to kids. Which might explain why the non-Harpo parts of Marx brothers films didn't appeal to me in my ill-spent youth. The older one gets, the more likely you'd be to notice strange details, like... what is the deal with the wall where we first see the boys loading the beer truck?
Anyway, on to the plot at large. We start with a good comedy name, A. Panther, president of Panther Beer. They've been having trouble with deliveries, so they hire the Stooges. How gloomy a prospect is that? The very situation made for the phrase "from bad to worse." But a silver cloud is on the horizon. The big company golf tournament is coming up. Cue Professor Moe to explain to Curly how golf works. I remember re-watching the part where Larry gets hit with the push broom because it looked weird to me. It's either sped-up or they closed the aperture a lot... no, wait. What's that part of the camera that spins around... maybe it's the shutter. It obviously influenced the shooting style of the battle sequences in Saving Private Ryan. Anyway, the boys make their first delivery, and like all great delivery men, look for the perfect chance to take a break. Their first stop: Rancho Golf Club. The boys lie their way in the club (the ol' "Press, Press, Pull" gag), steal three people's clothes, and probably steal someone else's clubs. What fine, upstanding role models for the youth, then and now. Larry does make a good point: what IS the deal with golf clothes? Looks kinda... no, I won't go there. I've been warned about that.
Curly really doesn't know a thing about golf. "I don't see any golfs!" he says, but Professor Moe's always ready to give Curly a lesson from the School of Hard Knocks. One bump on the head, and Curly's seeing golfs. "Look at the golfs!" A callback for that art one... what was it called? Too lazy to look it up.
Now, a lesson for all you aspiring screenwriters out there. Golf etiquette is established when we see the old young white stiff about to hit the ball at the 18th hole. His caddy rudely moves the golf bag and makes a noise. The caddy apologizes. The Stooges show up and all hell exponentially breaks loose. They drop their bags, speak out of turn, and start to play through. "You're supposed to follow us!" Curly retorts "We don't follow nobody!" Somehow sensing they're not wanted, they move on to raise hell elsewhere. Curly gets a chance to do his auctioneer gag. "Sold to the man with the spitoon haircut." "Oh, gettin' personal, eh?" says Moe.
Now, this next part is where YouTube let me down. People start asking "Pardon me. Have you seen my ball?" It's cut off on the web, but Curly gets hit on the head, starts woo-wooing and running in place, and a flood of golf balls fall off his person. Too lewd for the web! Who knew? This gives Moe the perfect opportunity to cause some more damage. He starts practicing his swing on the assembled collection of golf balls, thereby knocking unconscious scores of golfers... I hesitate to call them his fellow golfers, considering how they're treated. This inspired the big post-battle sequence of Gone With the Wind.
Enter the 7th Tee. Apparently, this shtick wasn't allowed on the golf course, because it's a damn process screen! Curly proceeds to turn the ball washing station into his own personal clothesline. Larry gets politically incorrect, but not as badly as that Niagara Falls one... we'll get to it much later. It's at this point where the Stooges silently decide they should go their separate ways. They can do more damage that way. And so, we get three concurrent story lines. Larry finds the longest root ever on a golf course and proceeds to pull it up. Curly's ball ends up in a tree... then his club. After unsuccessfully trying to climb the tree, he finds an axe. Moe finds an undisturbed green to make some seriously huge divots. Each Stooge is separately accosted by a different ethnic groundskeeper. I'd speculate on what their ethnicity is supposed to be, but I'm not going to even dignify that with a response, as I am politically correct, and you should be, too. But it did seem to me that Curly and Larry got the same one. Wonder if they're supposed to be Italian.
Enter the cops. Even the Stooges are powerless against the cops, so it's time to go. "He's pointing right where you are!" says Curly to Moe. Moe brilliantly responds, "You mean, he's pointing to where I was." Back in the truck they go. They manage to escape the golf mob who's entirely on foot. You'd think golf types back then would have at least had cars, but never mind. Why question the logic of a Stooge film? It's at this point they find themselves in a Keatonian situation as they do battle with a steep hill, and the gravity inherent in it. The Stooge stunt doubles get a good workout running down the hill after a couple barrels that managed to break free from the surprisingly sturdy pyramid of barrels they had on the back of their truck. They chase the barrels down one hill and half-way up another, only to get scared and find themselves now running away from said barrels. What can one say? These comedic setpieces don't sustain themselves! Now you might be asking yourself: where in Los Angeles are there two hills opposite each other like that? Actually, I would be, too. Probably should've asked myself that question a lot sooner, but I'll bet dollars to donuts that the Three Little Beers IMDb trivia page probably says something like "They used the same hill twice!!" Meanwhile, the parking brake on their truck lets go, knocking the rest of the barrels off the truck. It ends comically with the intersection below filled with stopped cars and unmoving beer barrels... and right in front of the Ex-Lax store and everything! And where are the Stooges in the midst of all this? They find themselves away from all the mess they've caused, but they manage to run afoul this time from three magically flying barrels. We see three different barrels hit different rocks, but they don't get stopped by the rocks! No, they end up flying into the air. Larry foolishly thought he was safe in a tree. He gets hit by a flying barrel, and ends up flying quite far himself, and landing in a patch of wet cement. Curly and Moe end up standing on the edge of this wet patch of cement, but refuse to venture in to help Larry get out of it. Curly even responds "You think we're going in there?" Well... I hate to spoil the ending, but I think you know what kind of a response that attitude will get in a Stooge flick. I gotta go.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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