Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pumping Eggs (2 of 16) it over yet?  Anyway, time for the next Stooge flick called Muscle Up a Little Closer.  Wikipedia will tell you that it's a pun on a hot song from the time.  Meh.
You'll also learn that the other Stooges have haircuts here that are more like their normal hair in public, or out with their families.  Moe's adopted Shemp's haircut!  Lol.  And so, once again, the Stooges go over to their granddaughters' house... their girlfriends?  Good Lord.  We gotta stop these cradle-robbing celebrities!  What price money and fame?  The Joe couple go off on their own, leaving Moe and Larry to fend for themselves.  Here's a telling moment indeed: Moe and Larry spy some food on the table, so they get their girlfriends to give them a big hug while they grab some of the food!  What's that all about?  And this is the era of romance, for God's sake!  Now I know Joe Besser thinks he's the greatest Stooge since sliced bread, but even Curly never kissed a girl with chewing gum in his mouth.  Okay, sure, the Stooges only recently discovered the comedic possibilities of chewing gum with Shemp, but still... yecch.  Romance is just not for four year olds like Joe.
And then... things take a big left turn and the pic becomes a home invasion caper pic.  The Stooges' inner sanctum has apparently been violated!  That's different, I'll give 'em that.  Looks like Ruth Godfrey has returned from Pardon My Backfire to do Stooge bride duty... she's lookin' kinda old herself!  Anyway, let's just skip over to where the boys are at their job.  The opening gag is one for their people... sort of.  "A shipment just came in from Japan!" Larry tells Moe.  "What is it?" asks Moe.  "Matzos!" says Larry.  "Oh!  Just in time for Thanksgiving!" says Moe.  I'm guessing Joe didn't get that one... I stand corrected!  Maybe he was a Jew for Jesus or something.  How could he be such a shmuck?  I'll never be able to figure that one out.  Moe forces Larry to hold up his own nose with a crowbar; no big surprise there, but Moe gives only a half-hearted attempt to set up a ruse.  And then... whoa, dude!  Even Moe's a little fed up with Joe!  I haven't heard him talk that fast since he impersonated Hitler!
After that, they kill a little time when Joe ties his own hands while wrapping a package.  Moe and Larry cut him loose, then they're off to do some detective work.  Here's the problems with Joe, all summed in this scene right here: he says "They're terrific snoopers!  They're..."  First of all, he's not much of an ad-libber.  Second, did Curly ever lump Moe and Larry together like that?  On a regular basis?  I mean, gee whiz!  Why didn't they just get Don Rickles to be the third Stooge?  Half of the film would be Don saying to the camera "I told 'em they should've quit about 15 years ago.  They're NOTHING without me!  They got no act!  With the poking and the pie fighting..."  Even Moe knows something's gone horribly wrong.  Fifteen more films and he's out, I tells ya!  O, W, T, out!
While we're still waiting for the bad guy to show up, Joe's lawyers stumbled across a loophole in the Stooge law.  Joe doesn't want to be hit by the other Stooges... but hit by eggs?  That's okay!  And so, the closest thing we'll get to a trademark phrase from Besser IS... drumroll please... "Raw egg.  I hate raw eggs!"  And so, the warehouse floor is covered with broken eggs, so Joe decides to cook them instead of cleaning them up.  Splendid, but I never did care for floor eggs.  And so, the influence for Point Break and True Lies is bourne.  "A frustrated short order cook!" Moe quips.  A line that even Nora Ephron's ghost can appreciate.
Another problem with Joe: at one point he says "I think I'm having a heart attack!"  Twice.  Well, he was ahead of his time, I guess.  Today's obese youngsters can relate to that, perhaps.  Joe's heart can't even beat to the tune of "Shave and a Haircut"!  It just gets worse and worse.
After Moe gets shocked, it's cross-fade to the warehouse gym.  Tiny shows up and helps Joe work out.  "Oh, Joe... you're too fat," says Tiny.  Sure, it's the pot calling the kettle ... some color, I forget which.  But even Tiny knows there's something about Joe that's dragging the Stooge collective down.  Time is killed when Tiny lifts some barbells.  And then, finally!  The bad guy, Elmo Drake, shows up.  His first line takes a bit longer, however.  With an ending like this, it just makes me wonder if they could've made Elmo's time on screen shorter somehow, and solve the crime in about 20 seconds or so.  Despite his protestation of "You've got it all wrong!" the missing ring was in his pocket.  I guess he was just saying that to lie rather than having a J. J. Abrams-ish conspiracy behind the theft.  Well, I don't want to give all the Joe shorts two and a half stars, so I'll make this one a begrudging three.  Try as he might, Joe can't completely ruin the Stooge short formula.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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