Friday, May 17, 2013
Sheesh. It's going to be a long week. We start with Moe in drag. Maybe I'll check out that Popeye cartoon now........ Well, I've got no excuse now! Time to dive in to the Stooge flick. As the title card informs us, the Stooges play all the parts... save a few stunt doubles here and there.
You know, the AFI did their list of the 100 best comedies, and if memory serves, Tootsie was #2 and Some Like it Hot was #1. What, Victor/Victoria's chopped liver? Not as funny when a girl does it, I guess. The Stooges' girl names here are Laraine, Shempetta and Moella. I'm laughing already. Larry's name translates the easiest, go figure. And so, they give it their all while in drag. Shemp gets a run in his stocking and tries to fix it. Lol. Pretty good legs for a 55-year old! Larry has a lot of trouble with his dress, lol. They'll figure it all out at some point.
And now, the setup. They're going to an old-fashioned portrait sitting because, you know, they're such big mucky-mucks in New York or someplace. They swoon a bit over their respective artists, and then they skip out of the room. Moe... I mean, Moella takes a header into the next room, while Shempetta and Laraine run smack dab into the walls adjacent to the door. There may be a lesson about inbreeding here for somebody.
Cross-fade to the artists at work. In the Stooges' world, being an artist is a man's job, damn it. Eight hours a day, five days a week. Shemp's a canvas man, Larry's dabbling in clay, while Moe's a chiseler of marble. But, they all sing the same song: the French lollipop song. Sing along if you can... Shemp sings the song a little too long after it ends, and Moe gets mad, of course. Time to admonish Shemp. Again! Moe points to Shemp's eyes and asks Shemp, "What are those things?" "Eyes," answers Shemp. That's got to be the worst setup for an eye-poking I've ever seen. Moe asks for Shemp's help, and slurs his way through the instructions. He's working harder than he has to, methinks.
I can't believe it! A normal scene with Larry at 2:02! Leave us savor this moment for a moment. Okay, back to the mayhem. Moe goes to work on "his" statue. They get to do the surgery bit! Moe asks for the tools with the made-up names. Shemp and Larry confuse an "anacanapuna" with an "anacanapana." Figures. The help these days. Sheesh. Larry's in the Lone Man Again position that Curly used to occupy. And so, Moe gets the right tool, so Shemp and Larry set about creating a sidepot of chaos. Why? Because they choose to, that's why. Because they can. Which is why Shemp chooses to hit Larry in the neck with a large mallet. He's just trying to help, the only way he knows how! Is Larry at all grateful, the little prick? Of course not. Boy, Larry's really pissed off! He grabs the mallet and tries to confuse Shemp's head with a croquet ball. Instead, he turns "Moe's" statue into a Venus de Milo, only sans tête instead of sans bras. Larry tries to calm an enraged Moe by handing him the mallet. It might have worked if he didn't also say "I'm sorry, Moe. The hammer did it." As we all know too well, hammers alone don't destroy statues. And so, with his back turned, Moe smites Larry in the back of his head, causing Larry to run forward very fast. So fast, that he runs right into his head of clay.
Shemp and Moe look on in horror as Larry lies on the floor, face covered in clay, gasping for air. Larry reaches for the clay to get a grip on it, and gives it a mighty peel, peeling it off of his face in one giant piece. However, there's a little bit left on his nose. Is it time to channel the spirit of that human-proboscis monkey hybrid Jimmy Durante? I think so, if only briefly. The whole film's not about that, after all!
Larry tries to get redress for the ruination of his clay head. Well, a head for a head is the law of the land in the Stooges' art studio. Frankly, I think Moe's work suffered the most irreparable damage. Sure, someone could argue that it's not really his statue, but someone could also counterargue that it's probably not Larry's clay head, either, or Shemp's painting. Shemp's painting seems to be the only survivor so far. In any event, the time for civilized debate is over, and a massive clay fight breaks out. Moe rips off Larry's new clay proboscis, and Larry squeals as if it was his real nose. Moe manages to keep clay off his face during the whole fight, so Shemp fixes that at the last second. Lol. Fade to black.
Fade-in. And what a sight to fade in upon! There's six Stooges in the same shot! The three Stooge girls are on the left, posing for their portraits, and the three Stooge men/artists are on the right. Take that, Bob Zemeckis!
Note to any and all aspiring painters: never smoke a cigar while painting. Larry shows us why. Next, Larry heads over towards Moella, but they have to cut to a two-shot, as the technology to seamlessly have Larry walk into the Stoogette half of the frame hadn't been developed yet. Also, we can't have Moe falling in love with Moella, either! Not only was it technologically impossible... but kinda creepy as well! Larry tries to get fresh with Moella. "Fresh!" says Moella, brushing his advances aside, but Larry does manage to get some paint on Moella's cheek. Lol.
Sheesh. Oh, I just can't call the play-by-play on all this stuff anymore, so I'll jump ahead to some of the yuk yuks. But I will create a link to the following part: Shempetta showers Moe's hand with kisses. Sheesh. Moe puts his other hand on a thermometer, and the temperature rises, of course. But check out the sound it makes! Why, isn't that the same sound from Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th Century? I believe it is! And all you film buffs out there will remember that the Duck Dodgers clip is also featured in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, when Richard Dreyfuss breaks off part of the small mountain of his model, thereby turning it into Devil's Tower. Shyeah, right. And abandoning his family to go party with the aliens. The only two flaws in that otherwise flawless movie.
Okay, on with the yuk yuks. The Stooge girls have flowers by their chairs, and it's time to pick them up and hold them for the pose. But before we get to that... look at this shot of the Stooges; the artist Stooges. Isn't this a first? I think it is! Joe Besser shorts feature a lot of frame composition like that... of course, I haven't suffered through too many of those yet. It's coming, though. Anyway, back to the flowers. If you blink, you miss the joke. We get a close-up shot of the flowers, and we see that it's crawling with ants. I think the close-up is of Moella... no, wait. It's Shempetta. "She" has the bouquet with ... a small sunflower? Kinda makes me wish I knew my plants better. Anyway, it's time to kill some time, as the Stooge girls get all itchy with ants.
I should probably point out that they time it well in the complex split-screen shot with the two sets of Stooges. The Stooge girls stop scratching when the Stooge artists turn to look at them. Also, the scratching is starting to infect the other artworks. LOL!!!
And now, pay attention, screenwriters future and past. Shempetta gets so itchy, she stands up, says "Ants!" and throws her cushion away. It lands on top of the piano and rips, dumping feathers into the piano innards... oh, wait, we can't tell it's a piano yet. SPOILER ALERT. In any case, the Stooge girls change their poses so much, that Larry finally goes over to Moella to verbally complain. Screenwriters should also probably note how this verbal exchange turns into an engagement proposal. Pure genius. Larry leaps into Moella's strong arms, and Moella carries Larry over to the piano bench. And it's a little hard to tell from the YouTube version, but this seems to happen at 12 fps. "Girls! We're engaged!" yells Moella. Boy, artist-types really know how to live. Following in Moella's mighty footprints, the other two couples declare their marital intentions as well; Moe is positively cross-eyed with love, as will be his unholy offspring. Sorry, forgot to suspend my disbelief again. Larry starts playing the piano and..... fade to black.
Fade in on the unhappy aftermath, where the patriarch of the... I mean, the father of the Stooge girls. I was trying to be fancy. Maybe Laraine's adopted, who knows. And who better to play the grand Stooge patriarch? Why, Moe, of course! He reminds me of Geraldo Rivera for some reason, as he gruffs his way through the role of angry father, much like James Finlayson in Our Wife. "Artists! Of all people, artists!" bellows old grey Father Moe. He's using a deeper voice to get into his new character. And off he goes to find out about these artists. As with GoodFellas, it's all about the hair. As time marches on, the guys get grayer and grayer. And Moe the father's got a nice crop of gray hair on his head, and a gray moustache to boot. Whoever did the wigs on this one deserves some serious props!
We kill a little bit of time as we see Moe the Patriarch go through the door, and I mean completely through the door. To be fair, it at least advances the plot a little bit. Compared to the time killers yet to come, it's a good thing. (TM Martha Stewart) Well, now that the Stooge girls are all alone, how to pass the time? Stabbing each other with knitting needles, of course! Moella gets the worst of it, naturally. "Help me, I'm losing my mind," he/she screams at one point. Lol. It's all for charity, folks. How many more needles and knives have to be ruined by the Stooges' asses? How many? Someone besides me must be keeping count of these things! (The Joe deRita cartoons don't count, as far as I'm concerned, BTW)
Cut to the lobby. Wait a second... the Stooge girls live in the city? Oh, pish posh and tish tosh. Dump 'em, I say! Oh well... the cooler heads are prevailing for now. And so, here come the artist Stooges, all dressed up in nice suits. That's Hollywood artists for you! They are the canvas, actually, especially their distinctive haircuts. Maybe that's why people don't like Shemp; his hair's too normal. Anyway, the Stooges are marching towards a door when... a "meet cute" with Moe the patriarch, perhaps? Only, it's not so cute to the Stooges. Why, Shemp's cake is ruined! Absolutely ruined!
Next scene: okay, how are they going to handle this? No clear dividing line between the two Moes... wait a second, is that a stunt double on the right? I think so! And yet, there's all this hoop-de-doo about that second Shemp we have yet to experience. No one ever talks about the second Moe! But back to the plot. "Why don't you look where you're going?" Shemp asks this rude older gentleman. The rude older gentleman retorts with "Why don't you go where you're looking?" Yup, that's an old man answer for you. Slam the younger generation just because we're too busy doing all the work. Shemp then introduces this old bird to the Stooge cult with a flick to his nose, avec the appropriate sound effect for that. But the old guy seems to be quite well versed in the Way of the Stooge, and he grabs both Lawrence and Shemp by their extruded probosces, and twists a little, just for good measure! It's old age 'avin' a go at youth, but the young Moe surrogate is going to do something about it. Oh, and by the way, note that Shemp's box does say "cake" on it. Lol. Hope that helps! Moe's double hits the old man over the head with whatever the hell Moe was bringing for the girls. In that spirit, Shemp sacrifices his cake for the more immediate good; young Moe says "Give it to 'em, boys!" but his mouth doesn't move! Lol. Zemeckis, I owe you an apology. Larry doesn't want to be left out of the fun, so he rips the old man's shirt and dumps his carton of ice cream against the old man's chest. "WHOAA!" cries the old man. I tells ya, I haven't seen an epic struggle like this since Vernon Dent tangoed with the Stooges in Scrambled Brains, but we'll get to that one soon enough. Clothed in the food they brought, the Stooges' final act to this man they crossed paths with is to send him against the wall. The wall aids in subduing this old man by knocking a potted plant upon his head. Cue the canaries. Boy, it's just lucky for the Stooges that they'll never have to see this guy ever again.............................................. Regular Moe's back now, and up to the girls' place they go.
Horizontal-wipe to another effects-heavy shot. Oh, these horizontal wipes just aren't the same anymore in the digital age! The Stooge artist men come in through the door and greet the Stooge ladies, dressed in lovely casual dresses... okay, I admit it, I don't know basic fashion terminology. I'm just a rube. Actually, they might be the same dresses they wore for the portraits. Reminds me of that time Marge Simpson had the one Chanel dress. Oh, how can a girl live with just one of something like that?
And so, the girls lay out the scenario: their father wants to meet the boys before he gives his blessing for marriage. The Stooges are confident that they'll win this guy over, whoever he is. Larry waxes especially boastful at the exact wrong moment, because... here comes the cake and ice cream with an angry guy under it! Larry looks over at the other two, a bit worried. Lol. What a shot!
The Stooge girls ask in unison: "Papa! Wha happan?" Moe the Patriarch wipes some of the silver off his face and gets an eyeful of the three idiots he ran afoul of just about a minute and 10 seconds earlier. Priceless. "That's them!" he screams, and goes for the handgun in the cabinet next to the front door. (The double for young Moe makes sure not to look directly at the camera.) The chase is on. Probably no better time for that Act Break.
Arguably, it's not much of a chase. It's a small apartment, and the Stooges can't seem to leave it. Well, you often hear about feature length movies losing it in the Third Act, so why not a Stooge short every now and again? As in many a cartoon, they seem to keep running around the same loop. The Stooges try to trick the old man by blocking the path with a bench, and the old man seems to give them enough time to place it, too! What's up with that?
Bear in mind, of course, how much time they ate up doing the complex shots and costume changes, and given their shoestring budgets of time and money, something was bound to give. Alas, this is it, folks. And alas, the Stooges fall for their own trap. Why, the camera has to move to capture their epic fail in all its mighty glory! The old man catches up to the Stooges and unloads a bullet into each of the Stooges' asses. So much for the simple joy of sitting in a chair! The old man says "I gotcha, you rat. Take that!" but his mouth doesn't move! But he does have that crazy killer look in his eye that all fathers-in-law have. The Stooges and their new leaded derrieres take off running some more. The old man moves the bench and the Stooges close the door of their loop and hide behind it like idiots. Time for three more bullets. I think Ben Burtt did the bullet noises! Haven't heard those before or since.
Having been shot a second time, the Stooges have a little trouble getting through the door, especially Shemp, but they persevere and continue to run like cowards. Meanwhile, the old man's out of bullets. Tis only a six shooter, alas. Time to reload! The Stooges are running counterclockwise now. Shemp and Larry prepare to trip the old man, but end up tripping Moe. They pick up Moe and begin to chew him out as if he was the old man, but they eventually realize their mistake. Meanwhile, we can see the old man going through the bullet drawer and reloading his gun. Lol. Moe the Patriarch gets off one shot and the Stooges scatter, heading once again for the door. Time to change the game. As the old man runs for the door, Moe closes it. The old man hits the door and falls to the floor. Guess he's just lucky there's no door in the floor!
...actually, you know what? I think I'm just going to skip ahead. And after this part, you can see why. I'll just take a slight jump ahead to where the Stooge artists dress up like Scotsmen and find a new way to fool the old man, if only temporarily. "They went THAT way, lad!" bellows Larry. Love it! Also, the older Moe stunt double has to make sure his hat stays on so we can't see that it's not Moe. Lol.
Otherwise, this sequence is pretty lame, considering. Continuity!!!!! A betrayal of the grand Stooge tradition, which is why I'm going to cut right to the end of the chase... see how I did that? Another clever ruse later, and the Stooges have got the father trapped like a rat... or maybe more like a chrysalis. The price of his freedom? The girls' hand in marriage. But the father's not desperate to get his girls married off just yet, so Moe has to result to underhanded tactics. This involves putting his hand under older Moe's foot and tickling him to submission. Done like true Stooge movie heroes.
Older Moe eventually gives in and the unholy marriage takes place. Cross-fade to... babies! Dayamn, but that was quick! They didn't waste any time, but they do end with a long shot of the Stooges as babies. I guess I'm just not in the right mood for that right now. Needles to say, that baby Moe is a little bastard. A bastard chip off the old bastard block. Alas, Curly never had a scene quite like that, playing an infant, but I think he did dress up in adult-sized children's clothes one time; at least one time I can recall at the moment... okay, with the help of Yahoo!, here's the second one.
So, how to rate this one? Well, four stars for the split-screen technology, but two stars for the weak Third Act, which averages out to three stars.
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan