Sunday, April 08, 2012

...and down will come Stooges, plot device and all

We'll skip the Stooges' appearance in My Sister Eileen for now and go right into the next Stooge short, Sock-a-Bye Baby... hmm! Ain't there a Popeye short called that? Of course!

ACT ONE

All right, time to go to work.  As with the premise of the new Farrelly brothers Stooge movie, a baby is left at a doorstep.  Bear in mind that this is strictly a Hollywood creation... the typical mother leaving her baby in a basket on a doorstep is probably not going to be decked out in designer fashions.  Anyway, the odds are good that mother and infant will be reunited by the time the movie's over, and you're probably not going to like the explanation... I'm just saying.
The baby starts crying.  Poor thing.  That eats up a good chunk of 16 minutes.  Next scene: the boys in bed.  They snore like a locomotive.  Moe and Larry are awoken by the baby outside.  They assume it's Curly.  Then they assume it's a cat... we'll just skip that for now.  They proceed to get their shoes to throw at the tomcat.  Let's just hope they look first.
They discover the baby, and the maternal instincts kick in.  Yes, even Stooges can have them.  I dare say the boys' voices were dubbed in at 1:36!! To help establish the plot, Moe reads the note aloud that the mother left.  And now that the formalities are over, time to try and make the kid laugh.  Professor Moe goes to work.  He does his time-tested "Zip-Boom-Cuckoo!" routine.  I swear I've seen it before.  Larry tries his scary face routine... then Curly uses the old World War II rah-rah racism to make the kid laugh.  NOTHING WORKS!  I'd just hate to spoil what does make the kid laugh... can you make a crying baby laugh by tickling its feet?  Or is that just abusive?  I'd make a terrible father.
Next scene: the boys are asleep again, and Curly gives us a preview of his post-stroke performance.  They wake up in the usual manner and run to take a look at the kid, trying not to wake him.  Larry observes, "When the kid wakes up, he's going to be hungry!"  They get dressed and go to procure some food.  But what do kids eat?  Professor Moe answers that: "Soft stuff.  No bones, no potato chips."  Close enough.  Larry runs off to the market, while Moe looks in the fridge.  Curly illustrates the potential dangers of daydreaming by sticking out his arm and closing the refrigerator door on Moe's neck.  Stooge pattycake time ensues; an especially violent one at that!
Next scene: the kitchen, where Moe is preparing something with Worcestershire sauce and onions.  You know, baby food.  Curly brings in some mousetrap cheese but forgets to leave and disable the mousetraps.  Bedlam ensues.  Larry saves the day by returning from his trip to Whole Foods... I mean, their World War II equivalent.  Probably not as expensive.  Among the groceries is artichokes and beer.  His choice of groceries is not questioned.  Curly makes sure the beer is okay first.  He puts one of the rubber nipples on the bottle that Larry got from the store.  Curly ends up making the beer shoot out of the bottle on its own.  Hollywood magic!  Moe goes over to teach Curly a lesson, but Curly knows Moe's weakness: vanity.  And when Moe gets a faceful of that beer stream, he's powerless to hit Curly.  Moe orders Curly to wash the celery.  Curly starts to, but has to keep nursing his beer geyser.  He'd be a terrible office worker today.  What self-respecting state agency would hire such a non-multitasker?

ACT TWO

Welp, we're overdue for an act break, and there's no sign of a fadeout on the horizon, so we might as well start here.  Man!  Moe has got a thing about that celery!  This must be one of those portions that stretches out the film to 16 minutes.  Nevertheless, I'm spellbound.  After Moe is satisfied that Curly's genuinely working on that damn celery, Moe takes the self-dispensing beer for himself and sneaks a taste.  Larry steps in and keeps the boys in line.  For once, Moe is too ashamed of himself to hit Larry, but Larry's about to do Moe's job for him.  Larry sneezes while holding a loaded flour sifter.  As Larry's gearing up to sneeze, Moe is powerless to stop him, and mouths the act of pre-sneeze agony on his own!  (Moe 6:54)
We hear the baby crying.  Moe tells Larry "Take care of the kid.  He wants room service."  Meanwhile, Curly's really getting into this celery scrubbing racket.  He starts singing a song about growing on a tree in Brazil... somebody else do the due diligence on this one, okay?
Next emergency: how to delicately broach the subject of changing diapers?  They don't, that's how!  They just go to work.  The boys proceed to turn the tablecloth into a diaper.  Larry ends up stabbing Moe in the ass with a scissors.  Just one scissors, not a pair.  There's an edit, of course, so that they can swap in the rubber scissors... or did they?  I'll leave that for you to decide.  I report, you decide, that's how it works.  Larry ends up cutting that little bit of cloth left before delicately stabbing Moe in the ass with the scissors.  There's no padding over Moe's ass; he has a regular curved butt instead of the square one that ends up getting tacks in it later on.  There's an edit before Moe uses the scissors to turn Larry into a V-8, so they DEFINITELY swapped in the rubber ones for that.  Curly laughs, but doesn't say that Larry looks like a V-8.  That definitely came later with Corny Casanovas.
At this point, prepare to leave half of your logic behind.  The boys don't know how to make a diaper out of a cloth, so they use Curly as a model before trying it on the baby!  I guess it wouldn't eat up as much time if they just went ahead and put the diaper on the baby.  Time for a time stretcher.  This one I object to.  They mercifully move quickly on to the actual baby.  As it turns out, the diaper fit Curly just fine, but the baby falls right through it.  Too bad the ASPCA or Amnesty International can't object to this part after the fact, because the baby takes an actual small tumble onto the mattress.  And so, the Stooges go into alteration mode, not at all dissimilar to when they go into surgery mode.  Alas, the only tools they'll be using this time are scissors and pins.  No anacanapana, no e-nah, no... whatever the hell else they use.  Lots of "Scissors!" and Moe saying "Pin!" followed by Larry saying "Pin!"  It's brutal, I tells ya, just brutal.  Moms might want to skip this part.  Me as well, for that matter.  A total of ten pins are used, and the baby ends up with a pair of pants.  Not bad for a trio of morons!
Next scene: meal time!  Larry gives a shout out to America's airplane workers, working hard to defeat the Axis powers.  Apparently, they're better than kings, but probably sweat a lot more.  Meanwhile, Moe and Curly are busy making the spaghetti and artichokes, respectively.  Moe does a little rap, rattling off the meal's ingredients.
Anyway, now for the big payoff of cuteness, as the boys give the baby different foods to eat.  First up: a nice radish.  Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww......  Larry starts looking sleepy at about 1:53.  Moe gives the baby an olive.  The baby ends up shooting the olive pit into Moe's eye.  Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.......  Thankfully, Moe knows better than to hit a baby, even after that.  Curly says it's time for an artichoke.  Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.....  The artichoke makes the baby cry at 2:48.  Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww........  The sequence from 3:04 to 3:14 is just damn fine, world-class filmmaking, no matter how you slice or dice it.  The baby wrangler on this one was a genius.  Also, Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww...............
While all this is going on, Larry helps move the plot along with the newspaper.  The artichoke ends up in a very artful arrangement on Moe's face.  Spaghetti's next; an even better throwing food.  Just look at Income Tax Sappy!

ACT THREE

As it turns out, Larry's the brains of this corporation after all.  He's the only one that can read, anyway.  Moe has an interesting reaction to all this news at about 3:38.  Even he can get tired of all this filmmaking.  How to keep it fresh?  How?  The newspaper reports that there's been a kidnapped baby, yada yada yada.  It's all a misunderstanding, of course.  I tell you what, though: there's one unhappy baby at about 3:58, that's for sure!  Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.....
The doorbell buzzes.  Time for the plot to kick into high gear.  But how to get that spaghetti into Larry's face?  Genius!!!  Curly answers the door to find two coppers and the mother who left the baby in the first place.  Curly's too slow, and the cops wedge their feet into the door.  The cops fall down inside the house, buying Curly enough time to tell Moe and Larry, and to hightail it out of there with the baby.  Moe's voice is dubbed in at about 4:36, I swear it.  Moe hands the baby to someone outside the window... he better have, anyway!  The boys take off.  The cop's voice is dubbed in at 4:45.  What's going on here?  Legions of fans must've been mobbing the set that day.
In this brief instant, Larry loses the baby.  We see the baby climbing into the Stooges' getaway car.  Larry tells Moe and Curly "The baby's disappeared!"  Moe says "That's exactly what we're going to do."  Sometimes you just gotta force these things at the script level.  Good writing.  We see the cops watching the boys get into their getaway car at 12 fps, and drive off at 24 fps.  A mighty chase ensues.  You might think you couldn't have a decent chase scene with a mere three minutes to go in the pic, but we'll see what the boys can do.
The Stooges turn off onto a dusty road.  They must have been travelling pretty damn fast, because by the time the two motorcycle cops get there, there's absolutely no trace of the Stooges!  The cops split up.  Bud Jamison takes the dirt road, and the other guy takes the highway.  Bud drives past a not-at-all unsuspicious looking car-sized tent and keeps going.  The tent starts driving away at 12 fps, then stops.  The other motorcycle cop is approaching.  Larry discovers the baby in the back back seat of the car, but not before they confuse the baby's crying for yet ANOTHER animal... pigeons!  Pigeons, for God's sake.  Maybe I wouldn't be such a terrible father after all.  Curly leans over to cut a hole in the canvas, and presses Moe's face onto the car horn.  Genius.  Absolute genius.  The cops approach.  Just as the cops are about to grab onto the car with their bare hands, the car takes off and the cops fall to the ground.  The boys drive off at 8 fps, leaving dust plumes in their wake.  They hit the paved road.  They drive past a black gentleman and... well, it's still better than A Plumbing We Will Go, anyway.  Wonder if it's the same dude... ah, I'm not that curious.  We see the tent driving through some California backroads that look like the spot where many a TV western was filmed... turns out they're just going back to the same spot they just were!  Must've been a pretty tight filming schedule.  No time for quality, or some semblance of geographic accuracy.  The cops close in on the tent.  Bud's voice is dubbed in again at about 8:03: "Get your gun.  They may be violent."  Armed to the teeth with eye-poking fingers.  You have no idea what you're heading into.

EPILOGUE

The mother pulls up in a taxi.  The baby is returned to her unharmed, even though the cops just pointed their guns at it.  Is this a case of The Sixth Sense?  Do we have to watch the whole film all over again to see if the big revelation at the end changes the tone of the film during a second viewing?  I'll let the Stooges themselves answer that one, which they do by running off in three giant haystacks...

*** (**** for the baby)
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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