Friday, December 21, 2012
All I have's this empty cup, All Gummed Up
As in Sing a Song of Six Pants, the curtain is lifted on another busy day for the now entrepreneurial Stooges. Their days of starting these shorts off with a bang, running from the Irish policeman that's chasing them, they've gone legit, thereby becoming a more insidious threat to the society at large. But the customers aren't exactly taking it lying down. For example, Larry tries demonstrating a new fountain pen for a customer. Larry gets a face full of ink, but the customer's pissed off that the pen didn't work as advertised! Moe goes to all the trouble of sticking his finger in a light socket to test out a light bulb, but the customer's more horrified than impressed, and can't get out of there fast enough. Yet they can't help but keep one eye on Moe to see what deviltry he'll cook up next, or maybe he'll experience a delayed shock... nope, nothing. Shemp demonstrates a fishing rod to a young sports enthusiast, but can't escape his Stooge-ish ways. He throws the line indiscriminately, and ends up hooking a woman's garment. Someone screams, but I don't think it was a woman. Maybe it's that nut Monte Collins. Mr. Noisy... I mean, Shemp laughs and says "Ain't that lady bow-legged?" The guy says "That's no lady! That's my mother in law!" There's a joke in there someplace. The guy walks out, and gets tackled by the guy coming in... why, look! It's the guy who turns and looks again! But, something's different. Oh, right. He's got glasses, so it's a little hard to tell that it's him. He's got a prescription written on his shirt; well, it was two years after the end of WWII and America was still low on paper. The shirt prescription's an easy one to fill, but they still gotta fill out the damn paperwork. They rip off the guy's shirt on general principles, but he's free to go after that. He leaps over the main storyline on his way out: Emil Sitka as Mr. Flint, the landlord.
Flint's got some bad news, but delivers it gleefully: the Stooges have to vacate at the end of the month. First the tailoring equipment, now this. To rub it in a little, he says the market that's going to move in will pay three times the rent that the Stooges currently pay. Why, nothing short of the Fountain of Youth will soften the heart of that ol' skin flint Flint! Shemp tries the pal-ly approach and gives Flint a good hearty slap on the back. And OVER GOES FLINT! "Oh, my lumbago!" he cries. They bend him back up, then bend him over a second time. This seems to be an improvised moment. After Flint's bent over again, the Stooges attempt to remove a patch from his back. Must be a lumbago thing. Moe can't get a good grip on it with his mere fingernails, so Shemp uses a pair of pliers. With a mighty rip, the patch comes off, and Sitka... I mean, Flint, lets out a mighty yell. Daniel Stern in Home Alone 1 mighty! The word "MUSTARD" is etched on Flint's back where the patch once was. Larry returns with a fresh patch and puts it on. There's a sizzling sound, and Flint complains that the patch is burning him. Shemp pulls that one off too, and it's time for a second scream. It's a different scream; I studied them both very closely. This second patch leaves the word "HORSERADISH" on his back. Definitely not to be taken internally.
Flint vows revenge against the Stooges, saying "You did that on purpose!" I can hardly blame him, frankly. Just then, an old woman comes in, wanting to talk to Flint. It's apparently another one of his tenants. Maybe Flint's just in a bad mood, but he says he's tired of looking at an old hag like her. Ageism among the aged! Same thing happened to Megan Fox after Transformers 2. Ain't it always the way? Flint eventually gets what's coming to him, though: a self-administered pie in the face. Flint exits. The Stooges enjoy a good laugh, but the old woman brings them down again. She has nowhere to stay, so they give her a spare room in the back that they have.
Well, the chips are about as down as they can get in a Stooge film. Will nothing improve their station in life? Time for some inspiration and what Bog sends. Shemp is the vehicle through which this divine inspiration will come, even if he's unable to put it into words just yet, other than his trademark "eep-eep-eep!" Shemp's got an idea in the back of his head. Time for... yup, but this time, hitting the idea out will work. Moe and Larry double up on the fists, and so does the sound effects. Bingo! It worked. (Kids: just a reminder... it doesn't really work.) But rather than saying he's got a terrific headache, he's got a terrific idea. He outlines the idea of finding a vitamin that will make old people young again. Fortunately for him, it apparently never occured to the other two Stooges. Moe grabs Shemp and Larry by their respective noses anyway, and leads them to the research laboratory.
Time to kill some time mixing ingredients, one of which is michigos!! Frankly, this whole film is a little michigos. Moe punishes Larry for telling a terrible "mortar" joke. Larry uncharacteristically tells Moe to "put that pestle down, man!"
And now, time for some Fourth Wall humor. In typical linked list fashion... sorry, it's the programming talking... anyway, Larry hits Moe with a big damp handful of cotton, and Moe hits Shemp with it. Shemp, having no one to hit, throws the cotton off screen Stage Left. After a few seconds, it gets thrown right back at him! So far, this has got to be the highlight of the movie; a sad state of affairs at that. After Shemp peels the cotton off his face, it goes into the mixture. Makes sense. After all, the Fountain of Youth is a lot like loading a cannon! Larry brings over a big boot, or the "mixer." Nothing eats through boots in the Stooge-iverse! Moe does the ceremonial shaking of the boot. He gets a little too eager and hits Shemp in the chin, then hits Larry to balance out the karma. The mixture starts booming. They set the boot down, and the boot is still standing! The mixture's popping and fizzing now, sounding like a conga tune. Time is wasted by the Stooges as they do the Conga. Moe eventually breaks it up by saying "Break it up!" They open the boot, and a fire starts to burn! They try to put out the fire, but all they have is a few mouthfuls of water. They start using other stuff, but they have trouble trying to keep from beating each other up to put out this small fire. The fire eventually dies down, and brave Shemp volunteers to take a look. Not deterred by the loud fizzling noise, he gets hit in the face with what looks like the wad of cotton. He says "Double crosser!," there's more fizzling, then he gets hit in the face with a black blob. Man, I sure could go for some chocolate pudding right about now. Just kidding, Mom and Dad. Is it just me, or is the camera at a funny angle here? Must just be me. And once again, I ask myself... why Sean Hayes instead of Rob Schneider for Larry? Anyway, Moe picks up the boot and wrestles with it some more. Shemp has wandered off camera and is busy looking for a towel in virtual darkness. Fortunately for us, there's a towel sitting under a box of "Jumbo Mexican Jumping Beans." Why, I'm surprised they could even find a box to hold in the jumbo variety! Down comes the box, and Lord help us all, the beans they begin to jump! I should've known that Mexican jumping beans were the secret to youth. That, combined with the "radioactive beach" theory, and the Stooges are the real Masters of the Universe. Of course, Shemp's too busy toweling off his purdy little face to notice, of course. Of course! One more for good measure, of course. The beans on the counter have died down considerably, but there's some in this black pot that are pretty lively. Moe pours the mixture into the pot, and it doesn't kill the beans! The beans leap out of the pot, and Larry gets excited about that. A good scientist would be writing all this down, but the Stooges are the complete opposite of that. However, they do know that they need a guinea pig to try their concoction. Moe grabs a big spoonful of the black stuff and slyly asks, "Who's gonna try it?" Geez, but Larry's got a weird-ass expression on his face. Looks like it's up to Shemp. Larry grabs a fork just to make sure of that, stabbing Shemp in the ass with it. Shemp opens his mouth wide to scream, and IN GOES THE BLACK GOOP! Is Shemp going to die? No, but he does end up jumping up and down a lot. He doesn't look youthful yet, though. Moe and Larry try to hold him down, but the three of them end up jumping.
Back to work whipping up a new batch of the stuff. Lawrence gets to add his favourite ingredient, "Ana-cana-panacin." Moebert gives the proceedings some much needed pomp and circumstance. It's dirty work, but someone's gotta do it. Reminds me... damn YouTube! Home of video pirates. The formula is definitely going to work this time, because Shemp's a little more adamant about not trying it this time. What, they couldn't find a young version of Shemp? They call Mrs. Flint from the other room. Yes, apparently she's Emil Sitka's wife. Good thing I read the plot description. The Stooges tell her to open her mouth and close her eyes for a big surprise... we'll have to set that aside for now. She obliges and tries the Black Goop 2.0. She doesn't seem to like it. Then she makes noises like Shemp, then like Curly! Good Lord! It's a Stooge-ifying formula! RUN FOR YOUR NOW OBSOLETE LIVES!
Cross-fade to the new Mrs. Flint. Personally, I wouldn't have handled it with a cross-fade, but that's just me. Well, she's still got grandma clothes, but it's the Christine McIntyre we all know and love. Thank God! Moe tries to control Shemp's hormones. McIntyre looks at herself in the mirror and triumphs in her new-found youth. She starts tearing off her grandma clothes. Moe can't control his own hormones at this point! Dancing ensues. Larry gets the first dance, and ends up kicking Shemp in the ass. Moe cuts in right away. Very short dances. Shemp cuts in... sort of.
Next scene: Mr. Flint enters the store. Finding no one, he raps on the counter with his cane. He gets one eyeful of McIntyre and sees that it's his ex, far from an old bag anymore. Moe proudly announces "We've discovered the Fountain of Youth! We can make old people young again!" Did anyone else feel a Twilight Zone episode coming on at this point? Probably just me. Needless to say, the benefits start pouring in, with Mr. Flint saying "MAKE ME YOUNG! (x2) I'll give you the store for nothin'!" Flint signs over the deed to Moe, and they get to work. They apparently didn't save any of the last batch, so they put a funnel into Flint's mouth and start pouring in the ingredients, using his mouth as a mortar. I should find this funny, but I guess I'm not in the mood or something. Time to stretch out time... again. It ends with a plunger over Sitka's face. He makes a noise like Shemp, and there's a big splash noise. Let the digestion begin. Sitka asks "Is that the treatment?" Moe says "No, that's just the preliminary!" I shoulda seen that coming. He brings over a ... it looks like a very long bug spary thing, and it has the words "Fountain of Youth" on it. They give Sitka a mouthful of the stuff and he steps out of camera range Stage Right. He makes much the same convulsions that McIntyre did when she got her dosage, but... the result's different for Sitka. He ends up too young, but he's still got the grey hair and beard. He swears revenge, even if it takes him another 60 years, pulls a gun on the Stooges and fires. Does this mean the Stooges still keep the store?
In comes a new customer who stands in front of the counter, staring off into space. Moe tries to stare in the same direction, trying to figure out what the guy's looking at. Moe asks the guy what he would like. The guy says 'bubble gum.' Moe goes to get some, then notices the guy blowing a bubble. Something fishy's going on... industrial espionage off the port bow! Moe reaches for a nondescript white box with the words "Bubble Gum" on it. Lol. Reminds me of Repo Man a li'l bit. Five cents for a piece of gum... hmm! Similar to today's prices. Of course, you probably got more gum for your nickel back then. I can get a box of Glee gum for 99¢, so that's eight cents per tiny piece. Anyway, Moe keeps staring at the guy as he puts the box back, on top of the boxes of marshmallows. Ah, the potential energy of comedy.
Meanwhile, McIntyre is still hanging around these losers! She emerges from the other room with a cake with one giant candle on it. She says she's celebrating her "rebirth." Sci-fi writers, take note. Nice small touch. However, the cake's not done yet. McIntyre says "It's got to be decorated with marshmallows!" Thank God, no dangling plot threads. Shemp goes to get the marshmallows, saying "Oh! Here's a box already open!" McIntyre runs to take care of her pot roast, so the boys are totally free to ruin the cake. Larry starts by trying to sample the frosting. Moe notices this, so Larry offers it to him as a proverbial olive branch. Guess what happens. Shemp arrives with the gum, asking "Do marshmallows have pits?" Moe says "No, they're empty like your skull! Drape that cake!" Drape the cake? Must be a '50s expression. Pardon me, as I need a hit off of 'Gimme that cake!' Ah, that's the stuff. Oh, right, I almost forgot... is it going to turn out that bubble gum makes the Stooges' youth formula wear off? Just wonderin'. We'll find out soon enough.
Next scene: the foursome is ready to enjoy some damn cake. I'm assuming it's more edible than the Stooges' Southern Comforter cake. Time to stretch some more time, with the help of bubble gum cake. Moe notices first that something's not quite right with the cake. "Pretty good!" he says as he tries in vain to hide his visible discomfort. Pretty good? Better than anything the Stooges tried to cook! To be fair, he places the blame on the "marshmallows." Meanwhile, over to Larry who's got chewing problems of his own: as it turns out, he's got a lit candle in his mouth! This could only happen to one of the original Stooges. Like Curly before him, he eats it nevertheless, the old goat.
Eventually, the boys start blowing gum bubbles. Shemp gets to do the first one. McIntyre looks on in horror as Stooge after Stooge coughs up bubbles, then she gets to do one of her own. Shemp pops one of his.
For the big finale, Shemp has bubbles coming out of his ears. And that's it. That's the big finish. I was on the fence before, but no more. This one deserves its place of obscurity in between the wall and the filing cabinet.
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan