Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cheech and Chong's The Three Stooges

Again with Schicklgruber.  Well, it was 1943 and the war was far from over... and America still far from entering the war, if I remember my history correctly.  I've just seen Higher than a Kite, but I have yet to figure out how the title relates to the film.  Maybe they just ran out of good titles, I don't know.


Well!  For once the boys don't start the picture running from the law.  Gives them a chance to limber up first.  We see an airfield with some planes taking off.  The Stooges haven't become dizzy pilots themselves, but rather are tending to things in the hangar, for some reason.  Or so it would seem.  No hitting yet.  Turns out they're working at the "Airport Garage."  Things slowly start to get violent when Moe removes Curly's backpack.  Larry gets to lay out the scenario for us: "I'm sick of this!  We came overseas to join the R.A.F.; we're still civilians working in a garage."  We eventually get from Curly a Chico-esque pun on the word "navigator."  Spoiler alert: it gets a callback later.  Moe has a not-at-all clever retort to that, and Curly gets back to work.  Curly and Larry work on the vacuum cleaner.  It ends in disaster for Moe, who ends up laughing like Mitt Romney at every campaign stop.  Curly walks away at a brisk pace, but both are powerless to escape Moe's laugh beam.  Moe keeps laughing.  Curly and Larry start laughing.  Moe closes in and starts to bonk some heads... even though Curly and Larry hit each other in their respective shoulders.  Very yin and yang.  However, the larger plot intervenes in the form of a car backing right into them.  All fall down.  The Ted Healy type comes in with an important assignment.  Could this be the assignment that consumes the rest of the film?  Could be!  There's a squeak in Colonel Henderson's car, and if they don't find it, Curly's ears will get turned 180 degrees.  That used to be Moe's job.  The boys get to work, starting with knocking the guy down so that he lands ass first into an ass-sized bucket of water.
Larry gets to work with the seemingly simple task of elevating the rear of the car using a "comedy jack."  It uses a pumping motion to lift the car but it can't seem to hold its place.  Larry has to hang on to the jack himself.  Moe arrives and gets into position.  Let the chin hammering begin!  (2:24)  In retaliation, Moe grabs Larry's nose with a wrench, doing a slow waltz for a while, and pushes him away so that Larry lands in a big pile of car parts.  That's fair.  Moe feels vindicated, anyhow, that's the main thing.  Meanwhile, Curly tries to start the car, while Moe goes right from Larry's nose to the car's tailpipe.  Moe gets a violent burst of soot in his face at about 2:56.5.  This is the kind of thing you have to watch at least twice, just to get accustomed to the suddenness of it all.  I had to, anyway.  Moe ends up with a Lone Ranger-type "mask" of soot on his face.  Curly thinks he's a burglar.  ...that's right, I'm skipping stuff now!  Can't hack it anymore.
Awright, back to work.  Time to focus on Curly.  Curly's doing battle with the hood of the car.  Not only is it hard to lift, but it keeps slamming back down!  Almost like the jaws of a "navigator"!  Love the callback.  Not quite, but the car's hood does bark like a dog, in addition to slurping up Curly's crowbar.  Curly knocks the cap off the radiator, and of course finally gets the hood open this time, only to get a faceful of water.  Curly starts getting his arms chewed off by the hood until Larry intervenes.  Larry must've been having a bad day, and gets impatient with Curly, storming off to start the motor so Curly can find the squeak.
And now, for a sequence that's somehow worse than Moe getting a climber's spike in the face.  Larry starts up the car, while Moe's under the rear wheel, hammering at God knows what.  The rear wheel starts spinning.  Moe's on a skateboard-type thing that guys rest on when they're under cars... Okay, I admit it!  I don't know the lingo.  Anyway, Moe has less traction than mere pavement, and he goes sailing backwards, landing head-first into a giant pipe... might as well take an Act Break here, because this is going to take a while.


So Moe's head is still in the pipe.  The boys try to pry him out by jamming a crowbar down into the pipe with him.  It gloriously fails.  We get to see Moe's fillings.  It's Moe v. crowbar for about 45 seconds.  Spoiler alert: the crowbar wins.  Curly tries the anvil.  Curly lets out a mighty N'yuk n'yuk at about 5:54, and fails to get the pipe off with a sledgehammer.  Now the part I hate.  They put the pipe next to the fire and let Moe cook for about 20 seconds.  Larry touches the pipe and singes his fingers.  So what's Moe's head?  Chopped liver?  Might as well be at this point!  Time to put the pipe in cold water.  Now, time to put the pipe in a chain-based vice and yank it off.  At 7:04, Curly uses his normal voice to say "Brace him up!  I'll pull his legs."  Moe gets the comedy neck for a couple seconds.  He eventually gets "twisted" out, and ends up with spiral marks on his face.  Time for swift retribution.  Larry and Curly run to safety next to the car's windshield.  Moe grabs a hammer and throws it at Larry and Curly, but must still be disorientated from his pipe ordeal.  The hammer goes into the windshield.  Cross-fade to next scene.  Needless to say, this is another one of those times when time is stretched to make a 16 minute Stooge short.
Next scene: we see that the Stooges have completely removed the engine.  For some reason, this reminds me of It's A Bird (1930).  Larry tries to act like Professor Moe, but the actual Moe himself steps in.  Speaking of impeccable timing, the dude from before's coming back to get the car!  His name's Kelly, incidentally.  The boys start shoveling the engine parts back into the car.  It's not going to be like The French Connection, I'm afraid... at least, in terms of car reassembly.  Moe tries to stall the guy asbestos he can, but not for long.  He's in a hurry.  Curly mimes washing the windshield.  I hate to spoil what happens next... the car starts up!  Kelly thinks it sounds good!!  Kelly drives off.  The ruse breaks down, and the car leaves behind a big pile of engine parts.  There's no happy ending here, unlike that one Amazing Stories where the plane gets cartoon wheels to land on.  Kelly goes to look at the lack of engine.  He looks in closely.  The Stooges slam the hood down on him.  Kelly says "GET ME OUT OF HERE!"  The boys run away.  We hear Kelly say "GET ME OUT OF HERE!" exactly the same way as before, only quieter, because the Stooges are now in another part of the garage.  Commander Moe orders the boys into the sewer pipe... which turns out to be a bomb.  A self-closing bomb at that!  Moe starts getting suspicious at about 1:23.  LOL.  Time for some stock footage.  A bomb being loaded onto a plane.  A plane taking off.  Back to the Stooges, where Curly and Moe are nose-to-nose, practically kissing, and Larry's looking towards the camera, befuddled as can be.  Oh, the irony of it all.  They've gone from Moe's head stuck into a pipe to the three of them being stuck inside a bomb.  The bomb is dropped out of the plane. 
Next scene: four German soldiers getting lectured by Dick Curtis, who's doing a delightfully awful German accent.  He apparently gets crushed by the falling bomb... or does he?  The Stooges emerge, a little shaken up.  Kinda like the boys in the A-Team reboot.  I don't know how the Stooges did it: they weren't in a tank, and they didn't land in soft water.  The three climb out of the hole they're in.  Larry uses Moe's neck for leverage to get out, and rubs more salt into the wound by putting his legs on Moe's head.  As in Curly's quest for anything but beans in ... I think it was Back to the Front, Curly's hungry.  He spies a box of hand grenades and says "Ah!  An avocaddy's uncle!"  What is this, Castle Wolfenstein?  Boxes of hand grenades just lying around?  Puh-leeze.  At least it doesn't take Curly 255 seconds to open it, if you know what I mean.  Where's the schnapps and liebfraumilch?  Curly tries smashing two grenades together.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, Moe realizes it's a "bomb."  I tend towards un these days.  Curly throws it out the window, killing... I mean, comically wounding four "German" soldiers.  They're left wearing their swastika-laden P.J.s.  Larry enters from stage right and asks "What happened?"  Apparently, he didn't hear the giant, loud-ass explosion.  Moe skips that mild technicality, and says "'What happened?'  WE GOTTA GET OUTTA HERE!"  If I only had a nickel for every time the Stooges said that.  Even if it's just Moe, I'd be doing pretty well for m'self...


Larry and Curly try putting on the same uniform.  Curly's the greedy one this time, as he shoves Larry onto the couch.  Larry looks befuddled at first, then stares in wonder.  Cross-fade to Dick Curtis on the phone: "Vot?  Marshall Boring's here?  I'll be right out!"  Good line reading.  Lol.  Curtis leaves the room, while Moe and Curly enter it.  They start playing "checkers" with the map on the desk.  Curly makes a winning move and says "Crown me!"  Moe obliges, but uses the framed picture of Hitler to hit Curly on the head instead.  Moe picks up Hitler's head shot and says "Schicklgruber!"  Time for some Depression-era humour.  Vernon Dent, aka Marshall Boring, rides up on a child's scooter.  Curtis asks "Vere is your automobile?"  Dent says "You dumkopf!  I only have an A-card."  Ask your grandparents.  Or Wikipedia.
Moe and Curly try leaving the room as Vernon Dent and Dick Curtis enter.  Curly gives Vernon a strange Stooge salute, but Vernon only says "No vonder ve're retreating!"  Vernon and Dick go over to the desk.  Moe and Curly follow.  See, they're in Nazi uniform... ah, skip it.  Vernon looks at the post-Stooge checker game map, and starts getting pissed off.  Vernon slaps Curtis and says "Dumkopf!"  Curtis slaps Moe and says "Dumkopf!"  Moe slaps Curly and says "Dumkopf!"  Curly has no one to slap and says "No-kopf!"  What I want to know is... WHERE'S LARRY DURING ALL THIS?  Sigh.  Maybe he had a stroke or something.  Vernon tears the map in half and throws half of it away.  The half of the map lands on the chair with a bunch of pins sticking up.  Vernon sits on the chair and gets poked.  Another slapping chain ensues.  Vernon orders Curtis to get some wine. 
Finally!  Larry emerges in a Carmen Miranda-esque getup.  Vernon is instantly charmed.  Frankly, so am I... to a degree.  Get it together, Movie Hooligan!  (slaps face)  Vernon says "Come here, my little Edelweiss!"  Larry demures.  Moe encourages Larry to go over to Vernon, but with a giant shove.  Larry collides with Vernon, and they both fall over.  Larry grabs the "plans" in Vernon's coat and goes back over to Moe.  Larry says he's got the plans, and points to his own shirt.  Moe starts to reach in and get the plans.  Larry, still in character, slaps Moe.  Moe slaps Larry.  Vernon intervenes: "How DARE you slap a voman!"  Vernon winds up to pitch a slap to Moe, but hits Larry instead.  Larry falls into the next room, then next to the hole the empty bomb made earlier.  Larry plies his fake feminine wiles on Vernon, lines Vernon up with the bomb hole, and throws him in at just the right ironic moment.  Too easy.  Larry gets his dress torn as Vernon falls.  Larry has trouble leaving the room, as Moe and Curly seem to be pulling the door shut.  Larry eventually emerges by giving the door a good ramming, which knocks Curly onto the floor.  He lands with that same "oof" noise at about 7:42.  Did I tell you that they use it in Gymkata, for Gawd'z zake?  Well, they do.  Dick Curtis finally gets it: the Stooges are spies.  Moe and Larry disappear behind the door, leaving Curly exposed.  Dick Curtis grabs a rifle with bayonet and starts to go after Curly.  What Dick Curtis doesn't know is that Curly's got the picture of Hitler stuck to his ass.  Curly turns away from Dick Curtis.  Curtis sees the pic of Hitler on Curly's ass and stops and salutes.  Get it?  Good, because this is going to happen for the rest of the picture.


Close enough.  But we do find out that dogs aren't so dumb after all.  A bulldog wearing a "U.S. Marines" banner takes a bite out of the Hitler picture.  Curly's ass is mere collateral damage.  Curly runs off at about 8 fps with the dog attached.  Somehow, these WWII Stooge shorts don't get better the more of them they make, but I'll still give it three and a half stars anyway, if only because of Dick Curtis.  Over and out!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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