Sunday, August 31, 2014

Short Reviews - September 2014

For the last time, Stand-Up Comedians... we take Labor Day off to celebrate work because work sucks.  I'm sure being a stand-up comedian is a walk in the park and you can't wait one day to get back up on stage, but the rest of the jobs in the universe need breaks.

How to Marry a Millionaire - With Alfred Newman as George Gershwin

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never - His destiny is now apparently to beat up the toughest guy in prison.  Life well lived, sir!

"Houdini" - That new one with Adrien Brody.  Clearly they decided against using period music.  At times I was wondering if I was watching the "movie" or the promo for it.  Also, clearly Houdini anticipated the movie GoodFellas because at one point he says "As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a........"

Death Hunt - Directed by.... seriously?  This is not helping cure me of my Name-ism!  That's like an ice cream guy named Cone!  Or a director of photography named Cameron!

Assassination - It's a horrible movie, of course, but Jill Ireland does what she can.  But it's remarkable because it's bad in a way not usually seen.  Take the opening overture by a full orchestra.  Real John Williams-ish stuff.  As for the rest of the movie?  It's like Dreamscape!  One man and a Roland synthesizer!  Why do I feel strangely cheated?

This is Where I Leave You - Tina Fey once again tests the waters, or rather, tests the patience of her demographic.  More 30 Rock, less of... whatever the hell this is.  A story like Passed Away can only be retold so many times...............

Flushed Away - I said PASSED away, not flushed!

Travolti da un insolito destino nell'azzurro mare d'agosto - NO!!! This can not be this month's theme, damn it!

Still Crazy - I wonder who would win in a fight?  Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais?  Or Richard Curtis?  I'm banking on Curtis, because he's got Mr. Bean on his side... and nobody fights dirtier than Mr. Bean.

Battleship - Oh, please, God... smite my DVR so that I don't have to watch this anymore

Almost Heroes 3D - Hey... HEY!!! There's only ONE Almost Heroes, and that's the one with Chris Farley, damn it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Company You Keep - When Movie Stars Try to Act Like Normal People

The Saint of Fort Washington - When Movie Stars Try to Act Like Normal People

Journey to the End of Night - When Movie Stars Try to Act Like Normal People

Casting By - Over Taylor Hackford's dead body!

Captains Courageous - With Spencer Tracy as Chico Marx

R.I.P.D. - Men in Black meets Dead Like Me with the Dude and Van Wilder not quite jelling as a team.  But I did love Harland Williams as the Introductory Fugitive that the Dude unfortunately ends up shooting.  He's been working out!

Pain & Gain - Michael Bay's Fargo.  Who knew?  He wanted to make one!

Space Station 76 - Good double bill with... what else?  Saturn 3!

The Boxtrolls - ...I just don't get it.

End of Days - Wait a tic... Don Calfa's not in this one?  Appropriate title after all!

The Da Vinci Code - Oh, Facebook.  One of the ads says "Like if you'll see Tom Hanks in anything!"  I thought I have... except for The Da Vinci Code.

Cloud Atlas - ...and this one.

The Ladykillers (2004) - This is the one that most normal people can't handle.  I'm not in that category, though.

The Green Mile - That's three hours of my life... that I will cherish forever.  But I might have to skip the seven hour director's cut.

The Judge - Okay, I finally broke down and looked this one up on the IMDb.  So what's Iron Man and Tom Hagen up to these days?  Who directed this John Grisham wannabe?... David Dobkin!  No... Wedding Crashers David Dobkin?  The Change-Up David Dobkin?  Has Dobkin finally given up trying to direct the grossest movie of all time?  Is he about to betray his bro-hams?  Or should I actually watch one of the trailers for this?

Samson and Delilah - Underboob?  I thought David Lee Roth invented that!  Wow!

Left Behind - You know who I feel kinda sorry for?  You'll never guess.... Kirk Cameron.  Now with this reboot of his 2000 role, he's the one getting left behind!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

All Quiet on the Animated Front

Not the 1989 Mike Grimshaw classic... it's on YouTube, but somehow I can't provide the link.  I just... I just can't.  Arguably, that and our next Tom and Jerry cartoon Quiet Please! do have similar plots, if not titles.  One thing that does distinguish the Tom and Jerry team from the average cartoon: at the beginning of Quiet Please!, (get those scofflaws now!) it is announced that Quiet Please! won the 1945 Academy Award for Best Short Subject.  Hmm!  I don't know if Walt Disney ever did that... he didn't on Lend a Paw, but they do announce that the film is dedicated to a charity cause... sheesh.  What a comedy killer!  Ferdinand the Bull doesn't boast the Oscar win.  Sure, there's Oscar boasting with The Old Mill, but it seems to be well after the fact.  Disney got an Oscar for Der Fuehrer's Face, ...I thought it was spelled 'Fuhrer', for one, and two, we still don't know which side of the war Disney himself was on.  Anyway, I'm probably violating some copyright law by even talking about Disney cartoons, so I better quit while I'm ahead.
Arguably, the Warner Brothers shorts with that Blue Ribbon opening implies they're in Oscar territory, and Bugs did mention that Friz got an Oscar for Knighty Knight Bugs (even though Friz himself actually won for The Pink Phink),but they don't delve into temporal specifics as the cat and mouse do.  As for why Quiet Please! is in stilted rhomboid shape, well... small price to pay to see it for free on the YouTubes, right?*

* SPOILER ALERT: Probably too steep a price to pay.  This review might still be free, though; I'll keep you posted.

...okay, let's get right into it.  And they're off!  We start with the bulldog trying to sleep.  Unfortunately for him, this isn't a documentary about the sleeping habits of the domesticated canine.  And soon enough, we hear some stuff breaking off screen.  The dog wakes up looking annoyed, and yet somehow we see the resignation on his face, that he's been through all this before, probably several times.  The cat's trying to hit the mouse with a frying pan.  In the cat's adrenalin-induced fury, he hits the dog quite a few times, in addition to not hitting the mouse at all.  They exit the stage, and the dog tries to bury his head in the pillow.  Next, the shotgun.  The dog's going through basic training again!  The cat uses the dog to prop up the shotgun for a few of the shots.  The cat throws the gun into the air and takes off after the mouse, Stage Left.  Now, c'mon, folks.  Even the most jaded sophisticate amongst you will probably appreciate where the gun lands?  No?  Not at all?  Not even as irony?  Irony with actual iron?  Boy!  Tough crowd.  And then, for the Third Act of this First Act... the axe.  (HAH!  The blogger's auto-spellcheck doesn't have the word 'axe'.)  The cat shows a little decorum and hits the dog with the side of the axe head rather than with the blade part of it.  To be fair, the mouse is standing right next to the dog's head.  You think the dog would be upset equally at the two of them, but no.  Sympathy for the mouse, always.  The cat and mouse once again exit Stage Left, but this time, the dog's had enough.  The dog reaches off camera to Stage Left and grabs the cat, even though the cat's probably a half mile away at this point, judging from the duo's speed.  Once again, I call upon the hipsters... really?  Nothing?  Even that has been done to death?  Well, I guess I appreciate you reading this blog post and all, but I gotta say... it kinda sucks to be you right now!  (Might as well go for the Beyoncé reference)


Okay, so that was just an opening appetizer.  Time to dig in to the main course that sets the tone of the rest of the pic.  The bulldog is once again voiced by the positively terrific Billy Bletcher.  The guy could do it all: Taxi Boys shorts, cartoons... the master of the 2D and the 3D.  We just saw a Castle Films cartoon called The Big Bad Wolf. (actually, this one was about the Little Bo Peep wolf, not the Three Little Pigs wolf)  On the DVD menu it said "BID Bad Wolf."  Go figure.  Oh, those Chinese, or Koreans, or whoever makes these cheap DVDs.  Love it.  The more idiomatic, the better... where was I?  Oh, right.  The bulldog, as delicately as an animated bulldog can to a cat, explains that he's trying to take a nap... and if he hears one more noise, he'll skin the cat alive.  "GOT IT?" asks the bulldog.  The mouse, smiling, nods for the cat in absentia.  My viewing companion wondered aloud about that whole getting skinned alive thing.  Clearly they're not a die-hard Tom and Jerry fan like I ... sort of am.  This is still one of the nicer things that happens to the cat.
After coming to a stop from being thrown by the dog, the cat seems to have gotten the message.  Is this the end of the cartoon as we know it?  Will the dog get its much needed and once requested beauty sleep?  Bore-ring!  Re-enter Jerry Mouse.  I hate to spoil the visual gag, but Jerry gets Tom's blood boiling anew, and the chase is quickly resumed anew.
Damn, that mouse is fast.  Tom's trying to catch up, but then he gets scared by something, and uses every part of his lower legs to slow down before hitting the dog... especially his rather large, prominent glute muscles!  Good Lourdes.  The mouse has got the frying pan... I'm assuming the same one from earlier, and a spoon to hit it with to boot.  The dangerous smashing weapon has now just become a percussion instrument as well!  Why do these things never get used for cooking in the cartoon movies?  Jerry Mouse hits the cat once for good measure, then goes back to its previous stance like a guy practicing karate.  Tom knows when he's beat, so he retreats to around the corner, waving goodbye before disappearing out of sight.  As it happens, the mouse isn't as omniscient as it pretends to be, and Tom gets the drop on it.  And so, with no spoon or frying pan to wield, Jerry Mouse does the waving goodbye this time, and takes off anew round the corner.
For this next episode, we start with the mouse tripping the cat with an extension cord... damn, that mouse is strong.  Time for Tom's next shock... is that the same footage?  I mean, hunk of animation?  Probably.  No expense was spared at MGM back in the day... someone's going to kill me for using that phrase... but the cartoon department apparently had to cut a few corners.  Audio too.  Every time the mouse barks like a dog, it's always the same two barks, and every time the cat yelps in pain, that's usually the same one.  Anyway, what the cat got scared by was that Jerry the Mouse is exercising its Second Amendment rights and has picked up the shotgun.  Is the axe next after that?  Is this tit for tat on every weapon the cat used on the mouse?  Jerry the Mouse shoots the shotgun, but Tom the Cat stops the bullets with its paw-fingers.  Kids... do NOT try this with a shotgun, as you will probably at the very least lose the arm of whichever hand you try it with.  Anyway, back to the cartoon violence.  For Jerry Mouse's next trick that causes the cat to emit the same scared yelp it so often does, the mouse starts to tip over a grandfather clock.  Damn, that's one strong mouse!  It doesn't even take some special strength pills or anything!  Maybe off camera.  The cat apparently doesn't have the time or the energy to stop the grandfather clock, so it just puts its fingers over the dog's ears while we hear the enormous crash off-screen.  Lol.  Once again, I appeal to the hipsters in the audience... nothing?  Will nothing move your jaded heart to even an ironic laugh?


Well, these Tom and Jerry cartoons may be short on laughs... but they do apparently try to appeal to the sadists in the audience, even if they can never go public with that information about themselves.  For Jerry the Mouse's next trick... it's light bulb time!  One after another they fall.  Damn, but that mouse is practically on par with a human when it comes to throwing light bulbs!  But God bless him, the cat catches every last one of them.  Unfortunately for the cat, his tail is close to this weird power outlet near the ground that looks like a mouse hole in the wall... okay, bad example.  That's a semi-circle.  The power outlet is a full, tiny circle in a golden plate in the wall.  Apparently, this is the way power outlets used to be.  And darn perfect for sticking a cat's tail into!  Jerry puts the cat's tail into the power outlet, and the light bulbs start lighting up... and alternating, too, no less!  But the mouse takes some pity upon the cat, and gets a metal roller skate, rolling the cat away and out of the outlet.  At no point does the mouse get shocked.  Someone's not playing fair with these cartoon physics, but that's okay for the teeny things in these cartoons.  The mouse did get beat up a little bit in that golf one a week or so back.
..where was I?  Sorry, I seem to have taken ... you know, one of those breaks where your eyes are closed and your throat makes this noise like a door opening and shutting real fast... Anyway, here's something the hipsters will appreciate.  SPOILER ALERT: Now, normally when an animated cat's holding a bunch of light bulbs and being pushed along on a roller skate, if you're at all like me (scary thought, I know), you're probably thinking, Hey!  There must be a staircase nearby for the cat to fall down with!  And normally, you'd be right.  In this instance, however, it would take the action too far away from the dog, where the main conflict of the plot has been concentrated.  So, the cat instead falls over the dog, and the light bulbs start crashing all around them.  C'mon, hipsters.  I don't blame you for a minute if you don't want to agree with me on anything at all... but that was pretty funny, wasn't it?  Didn't see it coming, anyway, probably... RIGHT?  I mean, CORRECT?
The groggy dog starts to wake up.  And so, it's one of those rare occasions when Tom is forced to speak.  Tom starts singing the dog a lullaby.  Fortunately for Tom, he's delayed his live skinning for a few minutes, anyhow.  The dog falls back to sleep.  In another diabolical twist that you'll probably see coming, Tom engages in some light-to-medium chemical warfare.  Tom gets a bottle of "Knock-Out Drops" and starts feeding it to the groggy dog.  Tom pops the top of the dog's nose open and pours in some of the drops... ah, cartoon dogs.  All the extra features they come with.  Tom pours the rest of the bottle into the dog's mouth, and ever so gently gets the dog to gulp it down.  Now, sure, you might be thinking, but The Movie Hooligan!  What about that scene they cut out of the Bugs Bunny classic, The Big Snooze?  Well, the lawyer part of me (The Lawyer Hooligan?) would argue that, in Tom's case, it's an act of self-defense.  With Bugs, it's clearly an invasion of Elmer's privacy... albeit an hilarious one.  And besides, the bad guys will always be able to get sleeping pills.  There's no federal law strong enough to stop that.  In any event, the knock-out drops are a tad bit funnier than sleeping pills, and probably harder to cut out of the Tom and Jerry cartoon.
The only question now is: where to break between Acts Two and Three?  I guess I'll play it safe and break at the Custard Pie sequence.  Sorry... SPOILER ALERT.  Anyway, now that the dog's out cold, time for Jerry to come in with a new deviltry: a toy drum, which he's beating loudly.  Tom's surprised at first, but clearly he can't wait to show Jerry why the drumming won't work.  Tom shows Jerry the bottle, and Jerry decides to give up... or does he?  Jerry writes out a will and hands it to Tom, giving Tom a reason to speak a second time.  Basically, the will says that Jerry gives Tom all his worldly possessions, which include, and apparently are limited to, one custard pie.  This was before plots got all complicated and recursive, so we never do find out how a mouse came to possess a custard pie, but it's a remarkable enough episode to cause Tom the cat to speak an unprecedented second time.  You'll just never guess what happens to the pie.  Never in a million bajillion years...


The chase is on again.  Jerry the mouse tries another devious trick, which scares Tom anew.  Jerry fakes the dog growling.  Tom's scared at first, but lifts up the dog's chin to find Jerry.  Jerry barks twice, making the same barking sound he usually makes... but then he bites Tom on the nose.  The chase begins anew again.
Jerry's down to his last tricks.  He tries yelling in the dog's ear before taking off running again.  He then takes a page from the Book of Stooges and stabs the dog with a pin.  The pin gets ruined and bent out of shape... that dog must have iron in its blood!!
The chase is briefly paused for a bit with a couple of hammers.  For some reason, I wanted to skip over this one, probably because it's no big surprise what happens... the mouse bashes the crap out of the cat's toe or tail.  Yawn.  Which leads us to the last gag: the mouse has managed to stick a very very very very large stick of dynamite under the dog.  Its fuse is burning, and Tom is frantically trying to get the stick out from under the dog.  Apparently, trying to put out the fuse is futile.  Very few times in cartoondom have cartoon characters ever been able to just stick their fingers on a lit fuse to stop it from burning.  Spoiler alert: our instant case is no exception.
And so, Tom continues to struggle with the large firecracker.  But then... the dog is awoken from its knock-out drop-induced slumber.  He sees the cat and starts to growl.  With the benefit of hindsight, Tom is at a fork in the road.  The dog is apparently unaware that it's sitting on a very very large firecracker.  Completely unaware.  Should a) Tom try to point this out to the dog? or b) quietly stick the firecracker under the dog and walk away?  You'll never guess what Tom decides to do... never... okay, he picks b).


Needles to say, Tom should have picked a) for his own benefit, but God bless him for picking b).  The "camera" holds still as the dog rolls up its new-fangled sleeve, revealing a navy tattoo, then runs off to Stage Left.  There are sounds of crashing and clutter, but we're spared the gruesome visuals... or are we?  Surely if it were a Disney cartoon they'd show the beating?  You know, job creation.  Anyway, the cartoon ends as it should, with the cat wrapped in bandages and rocking a big rocking bed back and forth with the dog in it.  Reminds me of that Monty Python sketch with hospital patients in an Army basic training-type course.  "Fractured tibia, Sergeant!  PROPER LITTLE MOMMA'S BOY, AREN'T WE?" I the only one?  I thought so.  And of course, we find the mouse snuggled up with its protector, for the sake of real life mice that have been killed by real life cats since the dawn of time.  Finally, the tide is turning in the mouse's favour!

...oh, right.  The Oscars.  Well, it was indeed an interesting year for animated shorts!  Every big studio had a contender: Disney, of course, and George Pal with... JASPER and the Beanstalk?  A perversion of our classic children's literature.  No wonder that didn't win!  And... Walter Lantz had an Oscar-worthy entry?  That's a shock.  The only one I've seen is the Warner Brothers' entry called Life With Feathers about a male bird that's upset about his wife leaving, so he decides to get Sylvester to eat him.  Sylvester is just about to, but gets suspicious about it at the last second.  The bird does a reverse Tweety and keeps trying to fly into Sylvester's mouth.  The plotting alone was indeed worth a nomination, although I originally found the cartoon kind of annoying as a precocious youth.  As for Quiet Please!, well, something about the Oscar win elevates it a bit above the norm... although I'm not sure why.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Thanks for the Pepperoni

Compared to the previous Popeye cartoon, where he was trying to keep something in the house, now we find Popeye trying to keep something out.  It's the second and possibly final appearance of The Jeep in our next Popeye short entitled Popeye presents Eugene, The Jeep.  And after you watch it, spoiler alert, you might be tempted to add "reluctantly" to that title.
Now, first of all... the clean slate.  It's rising in popularity at our multiplexes, what with The Giver and The Maze Runner featuring them prominently in their plot synopses.  Characters are getting their memories erased again, and probably not in a comedic way with the Men in Black neuralyzer.  In the case of Popeye, he gets a serious erasure job here.  Pinto Colvig must be on loan again from Disney as he clearly voices the Goofy-esque delivery man who drops off a package at landlubber Popeye's porch.  C'mon, Popeye.  The houseboat not good enough for ya anymore, Mr. Fancypants?
And so, the Jeep arrives in a rather airtight box with a note from Olive.  You know, it wasn't so long ago that it was Popeye introducing the Jeep to Olive.  I guess the event was a little underwhelming for all concerned.  Not enough to merit the Jeep's own mini-series, anyway.  And so, the Jeep comes with a note from Olive.  The note reads.....

Happy Birthday (pronounced 'boithday', of course!) Popeye.  This is Eugene the Jeep from Olive.

The note continues on the other side...

P.S. Be sure he sleeps outdoors at night.  O

Well, even Shakespeare's best plays had less plot.  And so, like the Gremlins, we have our parameters for a raucous comedy of errors to take place.  I seem to remember the Pink Panther having similar troubles... anyone else?  ...Pink Z-Z-Z!  That's it!!!  God bless you, Hausmieten Potiori, and I apologize for thinking your site was merely a placeholder until someone paid for the domain.
For some reason, I hate to spoil this one with an exhaustive play-by-play.  Needles to say, Popeye's mood changes from joyous to downright mean, as he ends up vacuuming up the Jeep, taking the vacuum bag outside and pitching it over the neighbour's fence.  The Jeep in the bag starts chasing Popeye back to the house.  Popeye starts quickening his pace, muttering to himself "I gotta get inside before he does...," thereby inspiring the 1987 Canadian classic, The Cat Came Back.  We never do find out what happens if the Jeep sleeps indoors.  Maybe it has bladder control problems or something.  But it's immaterial and irrelevant, because Popeye ends up on the porch his own damn self in the bed he made for the Jeep.  Popeye forgot that the Jeep can transcend time and space, disappear and reappear and walk through walls.  Kinda like Pat Robertson!  And, of course, like all good pets, the Jeep eventually materializes in the bed outside next to Popeye.  There's a metaphor there someplace; maybe a simile or two...
I seem to recall seeing this one on TV once or twice, and it's a perfect one for it.  Simple storyline, nothing too off the beaten path like that one where Popeye meets William Tell, for God's sake.  TV's all about conformity, right?

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Shango Bsang

Obviously, the IMDb is not the best source of info on Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. Bsang.  Their sole directing credit is called The Quiet Storm... ooh!  I LOVE that SNL bit!  Tim Meadows plays the angry D.J. who ends up killing all his co-hosts!  ...close enough.  What YouTube doesn't have, Hulu owns, apparently.
Anyway, some of the actors have photos attached, always a good sign.  Time to fire up my special software!!!

...okay, according to my special software, we got

David McGillivray, star of The Quiet Storm

...who was also in a documentary called British Film Forever... BFF!  Love it

...which ALSO FEATURED Spielberg!  Hang with the McGillivray guy if you want to get to Spielberg.  Definitely.  Yeah, definitely.

Should They Stay or Should They Go?

Well, so far, they're staying!  Guardians of the Galaxy is staying at #1, which I think James Gunn should be happy about.  Now he could probably get Slither 2 greenlit... but he'll still have to wait til about 2019 to do that.  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot stays at #2, and If I Stay stays at #3.  Hit Girl's photo shoot paid off big time!  I forget what magazine it was for.  For my money, if it's not done by Annie Liebowitz for Vanity Fair, it doesn't exist... but maybe this time I can make an exception.
As for everything else, nothing but suffering.  Sin City 2?  Gone!  When the Game Stands Tall?  Going!  Expendables 3 is at #10, and its rocket-propelled journey to 11 and beyond shows no signs of slowing.  The Giver is hanging in there, but still, I can't help but think that the Colbert Bump has seen better days.  Let's Be Cops, well... I guess Damon Wayans' kid has a future in this business.  Just to make sure it's plentiful, do that buddy picture with Will Smith's kid.  Do what you have to do: a Chris Tucker impression, dress up in drag, whatever it is, no matter how degrading or cliché, do it.  Make the gods happy.
But two debuts managed to make it through the forest this week.  We got The November Man at #6.  I guess Pierce Brosnan's not quite ready yet to join the cast of Expendables 4 or 5, and frankly I don't blame him.  But they do need a Token Brit at some point.  You'd be perfect, Pierce!  And the other debut is another left-wing liberal screed posing as a horror movie called As Above, So Below.  Sure, it's based on a little known Stephen King short story, but still.  The names have been changed to offend the poor ol' GOP.  So get this.  The main character is a right-wing talk show host named Preston Chatmore III.  An obvious stab at Rush Limbaugh.  But at least they didn't go for Ranch DuBlaugh.  Implying that he's the least bit French.  Much worse.  So the setup is that this Chatmore guy runs over an old Gypsy, and he gets a curse placed on him... um, does Thinner ring a bell?  Anyone???  But instead of losing weight, every time Chatmore goes on the radio and says something bad about liberals, he has to take a dump.  And not just any dump, of course.  Why, the Souls of the Damned seem to be hanging around in there, along with the usual undigested peas and pieces of corn.  But people forget!  Rush is a comedian, not the de facto head of the Republican Party!  Why, to do that job, you have to leave the house occasionally and meet people!  I heard Rush doesn't do that anymore.  And he's careful about what he says, not like this Chatmore guy.  He didn't actually call Sandra Fluke a slut, don't forget.  He just carefully said that anyone that has a bunch of sex makes them a slut, and that perhaps that that was the case with Fluke.  No one knows, of course, and we do respect people's privacy...

...oops, I actually read the plot synopsis of As Above, So Below.  A bunch of catacomb explorers in Paris uncover a dark secret.  My bad... actually, my movie idea sounds better, dontcha think?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

So Long 69789Darius And Thanks for All the Flicks

Once again, one last shout out to YouTube's 69789Darius, without whom this little quest of mine just wouldn't of... have been possible.  God bless you sir (must be a sir, right?  What chick's gonna post a Stooge clip on YouTube?) and may you be in business for a thousand years.
Well, now that it's all over, and I can get back to my normal sleeping habits, at least for a little while... the question remains.  Out of the 190 Stooge shorts, The Movie Hooligan, which one is your favorite?  Ain't that always the way?  Aficionados are always asked to narrow their choices, shy people are asked to play the field more... either that, or it's what one thing you'd take to a desert island.  For the most part, the average person, if they think about the Stooges at all, think it's just an amorphous mass of eye pokes and funny haircuts.  I noticed that, on the IMDb, most of the Stooge shorts remained unreviewed... at least until now.  Some guy... I think his name was "Moldy Hungarian"?  But for the most part, just the more well-known Stooge shorts got actual reviews.
So is it worth watching every single Stooge short, indeed?  Really?  Seriously?  Since I've done it, I'm contractually obligated to think so, but I'll agree it does get a bit redundant at times.  On the other hand, there's a reason they've endured for as long as they have.  They, too, got tired of being Stooges all the time, and they got the best screenwriters they could, including Buster Keaton screenwriter Clyde Bruckman.  Their scripts were varied and busy and of all genres, even though they stole a lot, mainly from the Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy.
But I'll try to answer the question anyhow.  I was going to see which short is the most popular on YouTube, but YouTube's too unwieldly a beast to tame that way.  On sheer numbers of hits, I Can Hardly Wait seems to be the most popular, at 569,560 hits as of right this instant, with A Gem of a Jam at a distant second with 431,056 as we speak.  Then of course, there's Micro-Phonies which seems to be everyone's favorite, probably for the same reason Some Like It Hot and Tootsie are everyone's favorite feature-length comedies.  Sure, Phonies has some nice violent moments in it, but somehow it was never my favorite.  But these are all Curly shorts, and personally my favourite is Dutiful but Dumb.  Maybe it's temporary, maybe I'm just crazy, maybe it's not healthy to admit that Dutiful is your favorite, but there's something about the Stooges thriving in a totalitarian state that does it for me.  There's a reason why Duck Soup is a classic, folks!  Groucho's got his own country, not just a university or a hospital or a cruise ship or a weekend party at a fancy mansion.
So that's my favorite Curly short.  As for Shemp, he's got a good body of work as well, but Loose Loot is probably the best for me, or maybe it's just too safe of a choice.  Of the Besser shorts... ugh.  Let's just say Outer Space Jitters and leave it at that.
But what about the flip side of the coin?  Were there any that you absolutely hated?  Well, now that I've skimmed my reviews of all of them recently, I kept a note of those.  The Curly short Cookoo Cavaliers I didn't care for, mostly because of the violence against the women in it.  Then there's the Shemp short A Snitch in Time where they have delightfully wacky accidents with power tools.  Maybe it's my middle school shop class kicking in, but power tool accidents are not funny in my book.  As for the Besser shorts, well, I hated Triple Crossed the most.  But really, I'm in no great hurry to relive any of Joe Besser's shorts.  Wrong replacement Stooge, but arguably at the right time.
Well, there you have it, folks.  I've done all the damage I could.  God bless you and your enduring legacy, Stooges.  As for me, it's on to the next challenge, which right now is just keeping on top of the Popeye and Tom and Jerry cartoons.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Got Plenty of Mutton Bird

You know, Mr. Burns once quipped "I say cheating is a gift Man gives himself!"  It's probably much worse in the animal kingdom at large.  My favourite example I recall is how butterflies and wasps take advantage of the industrial nature of certain ants, getting the ants to rear their young as their own.  But what if you're an animal kingdom alpha male, and you run afoul of an even more alpha-er male?  There's only one thing to do: dress in drag, which is what Tom Cat finds himself doing in our next Tom and Jerry cartoon... Flirty Birdy.
We start out as we usually do in these things.  Well, normally it's a rousing chase, but this time things are a little calmer.  Tom's building a trail of cheese crumbs, and soon enough the little rat jumps right out and starts stuffing his little fat face with crumbs of cheese.  At the end of the trail?  A deadly piece of bread with only a mere stick to keep it from snapping shut.  Reminds me of Hare Remover when Bugs is studying Elmer's extremely simple rat trap of a box and a stick on a rope.  Bugs says "Can you imagine?  And old-fashioned rabbit trap!  My grandfather told me about one of these things but.... I never thought I'd see one!"  Alas, we've got a lot of plot to catch up on, apparently, so no time for Jerry Mouse to avoid the trap.  Into the sandwich he goes, and it's time for Tom to have a nice mouse sandwich.  No time for mouse liver paté either, apparently.  And no, Tom's not going to eat Jerry Mouse ass first, for God's sake!  He's strictly a 'head first' cat.  Lol.
And then, just before Tom's about to take a bite of his mouse sandwich... fate intervenes!  This time, in the form of a giant, Tom-sized raptor bird... possibly an eagle.  Fortunately for Tom, the bird's a slow, fussy eater too, and Tom has enough time to climb up to the bird's tree branch, and a mighty struggle ensues over the mouse sandwich.  Poor Jerry.  Look as he tries to cling to both halves of the torn sandwich.  Jerry can't run away, of course, but why does staying have to be so difficult?
And so, once again Tom the cat loses a battle over possession of the mouse.  The bird is bigger and can fight dirtier, using its seemingly metallic beak as a makeshift fist.  The bird even has better aim when it comes to chucking bricks!  Fortunately, Tom finds the answer when the bird ends up throwing him into a clothesline.  Time for some sexual deception.
...sheesh.  As it happens, the bird's more desperate than we thought.  The cat's got a ... you know, one of those conical New Year's horns for a nose.  By accident, it gets blown and makes a noise, and that really turns the bird on!  Probably the most telling moment is when Tom cracks the bird over the head with a brick.  The bird says "...she loves me!"  And really, girls, once you get right down to it... isn't all courtship this way?
And so, a mighty chase ensues.  I hate to spoil it, but Cat hits Bird, then Mouse hits Cat.  That pattern happens over and over during the chase.  But Tom eventually gets smart again and sets up a kissing booth.  Guess what the cost of a kiss is?  You guessed it!  One mouse!  Good econ lesson there for all of us.  So that slows the action down a little bit.
As for the ending itself, well... I suppose most of these cartoons, if not all of them, end the same way: the cat ends up subservient to the mouse... I mean, the mouse has made the cat his bitch.  Sorry to put on airs like the previous sentence.  This time, however, the mouse has made sure that the fake marriage between bird and cat pretending to be a female bird stays strong.  The sanctity of marriage above all... even a fake one.  Kinda reminds me of the ending of Trading Places.  I'll leave it at that.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

And Last, And Possibly Least

That's right, folks!  It's the last Stooge film I ever have to do again... of course, there's all those Joe DeRita feature length numbers.  So much more suffering yet to come.  In the meantime, we've got our last Joe Besser short, and it's called Sappy Bullfighters.  Boy!  A lot of these Besser shorts have the word "sappy" in the title.  Sure, I don't know how many standard deviations above the mean there are, but still.  Three about spaceships, several with... okay, here we go.  There's one with Curly called Three Sappy People (1/97 = 1.03%), the Shemp classic Income Tax Sappy (1/77 = 1.3%), and TWO Besser Sappy shorts (2/16 = 12.5%).
Now, because this is a remake, normally I'd do my usual percentage calculations.  But these aren't normal circumstances.  And besides, I've noticed that the vast majority of my old hyperlinks pointing to Stooge shorts on the YouTubes don't work anymore!  I apologize, as I feel this just might indirectly be my fault...  Hey!  Maybe I should do a bunch of links to these Joe Besser shorts, and the authorities will take those down as well!  My bit for the common good.  Why, you'd have to be a sadist to pay the $1.99 fee to watch the Joe Besser shorts.  So that's one argument against.  The other is that there's a lot of stock footage of stadiums full of adoring fans and of bulls.  But mostly because I don't have my formerly free YouTube version of What's the Matador? to compare and contrast with, I really can't do the subject justice.  But it does look like they use an actual clip of way way younger Moe and Larry from Matador in our current feature, some seventeen odd years later.  My!  How time flies.
Now... if you'd rather skip Sappy Bull Fighters altogether, you can just go ahead and re-read my review of What's the Matador?  I just did, and man!  Did they stay true to the original script.  Like Curly, Joe says "I knew you'd change your mind!"  Sisyphus never had it so tough... I never thought I'd say or think this, but Curly's got way more sex appeal than Joe.  Joe's philosophy of comedy, and indeed of life, is to play a Stooge as a six year old child.  A six year old child who maybe has only seen the word "libido" in a book, and doesn't quite understand what it entails, so to speak.  Kinda like when Bart found out about what sex actually is... from Homer, no less... and as it spread all over Springfield, you could hear "EWWWWW!!!!!!" every couple seconds.  Still, Joe thinks he's Clark Gable in his prime, and hits on the pretty wife of a very jealous husband.  I dunno... that Greta Thyssen just doesn't do it for me, for some reason.  Then again, Christina McIntyre's kinda like a big sister to me as well.  And of course they do the "THREE MEN!" bit once again.  They didn't do this often enough.  They did it here in Don't Throw That Knife.  Hard to pass up a good setup like that, even if it means life or death.
So that's the first half of the picture.  The second half involves the "really big show" where the Stooges do their bullfighting skit.  The jealous husband recognizes them, and bribes some stadium employees to let a real bull out on the field.  Again, no post-production expense was spared, but someone did leave a little snippet of Curly's voice in the audio mix.  The contrast between the wide-angle shot of a dummy strapped to the bull's back, and the close-up of Joe just barely going up and down is quite stark indeed.
Well, I will hand it to Joe, as he didn't seem like too much of a psycho this time as he, like Curly before him, takes on the bull with just his bald head to protect him.  Joe's head is apparently made of similar stuff. (shyeah, right... movie magic, folks.  Movie magic.)  And so, Joe's carried off into the proverbial cliché that is the sunset, or at least as much as the last shot of the movie will allow... there's a big wall in the way.  He just barely gets the last joke right when he hits his head on a low hanging bar made of foam.
I understand that Larry once said that the Stooges only had a home at Columbia because of studio chief Harry Cohn, whose name appeared in a couple of their credit sequences.  He died sometime after the making of this short, and... yup!  Out they went.  Well, shorts in the theaters were on their way out anyway because of television.  I suppose even the best of great comedy teams ends with a fizzle, but that it has to be this weak just rubs that much more salt into the gaping wound.

p.s. ...wait a minute!  This was taped off of Spike TV?  I thought they had a strict "No Besser" policy!  Basterds.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

It was Old Age havin' a go at Youth.....

Our next Popeye cartoon is called simply With Poopdeck Pappy.  Now I'm not too familiar with other cartoon franchises, so I'll be the first to admit that I'm wrong, but it seems like these Fleischer Popeye shorts are the only ones to have titles that start with "With" and then give the name of the new character.  You got your With Little Swee'Pea, you got your Popeye the Sailor With The Jeep, you got your Betty Boop Presents Popeye the Sailor, and so on and so on.  Oh, it's worth a million damn dollars!  Now say hello to Paul Shaffer... something like that.
Anyway, much like our last Popeye cartoon, Popeye has to struggle with his pappy Poopdeck Pappy.  Instead of trying to build a boat, however, this time Popeye's just trying to get a good night's sleep, and I suppose it'd be hard to not have nightmares knowing your elderly father's out on the pier causing a major ruckus.  This one definitely calls for a play-by-play style review.


And they're off... we start with a very Fleischer-esque gag.  It looks like Popeye's going to make the bed, when in fact he's hanging up a hammock for Pappy.  Pappy tries sneaking out, but somehow Popeye's ready for him.  Popeye: 1, Pappy: 0.
And so, Popeye starts lecturing the old man.  Sheesh!  How good a caretaker can Popeye be, after all?  HE LEFT THE FRONT DOOR OPEN, FOR GAWD'Z ZAKE!  Popeye seems to make a salient point, however: "You CAN'T be goin' out EVERY night!!!"  While we don't know if this is true or not, it probably is, given how ornery Poopdeck is gettin' to be.  Poopdeck sheds a few crocodile tears, then offers his hand to Popeye for a friendly truce handshake.  Poopdeck then decks Popeye and makes a run for it!  I guess the score should be tied at 1, but I dunno... I just feel so dirty about it.  Popeye: 1, Pappy: 1.  Of course, Popeye acts quickly and ropes the old man back in with a life preserver with a rope on it.  Popeye: 2, Pappy: 1.  "I DON'T WANNA GO TO BED, SON!" cries the exasperated old man.  Sheesh!  I guess this is what I have to look forward to if I'm lucky.
Poopdeck begrudgingly climbs into his hammock.  Popeye gets hit twice as a result, but I'm not going to score it 3 to 2 like I probably should.  Anyway... and so, Popeye climbs into bed, turns out the light and says "Good night, Pappy!"  Silence.  Popeye reiterates: "GOOD NIGHT, PAPPY!!!!"  Popeye turns on the light and... poof!  The old man's gone!  Totally gone!!!  Popeye: 2, Pappy: 2.  Sure, Poopdeck could've stayed around and waited for Popeye to fall asleep, but where's the sport in that?  He gets to pull a fast one... a very fast one.  Why pass that opportunity up?  Alas, for Popeye, sleep deferred is sleep denied.  Off into the wide world he must venture to get his pappy back.
Next scene: Pappy's so incredibly happy, having shaken off the yoke of his immediate oppressor.  He's happily marching along down the street... and his eyes aren't even open!  Soon enough, however, here comes Mr. Corn Cob Pipe Killjoy himself.  Hate that guy.  Someone call Amnesty International on his ass!  When the two meet up, Pappy thinks quickly and starts pretending to sleepwalk.  Love that musical accompaniment.
Back at home, the struggle continues anew, but Popeye's ready with giant industrial-strength ankle cuffs.


And so, ankle cuffs in place, Pappy is returned to his place: in the hammock above Popeye's bed.  Now for that finishing touch to seal the deal.  "Good night, Pappy!" says Popeye, expecting a response.  No response.  "I SEZ GOOD NIGHT PAPPY!!!!"  The light comes on, and Pappy is off again!  Dayamn, but he's quick.  In this Second Act, Pappy penetrates even further into enemy territory.... I mean, the dance hall slash saloon that he tried to get in before, before Mr. Kill-Joy Popeye came along and said "UH UH!!!"  This time, Pappy gets past the swinging doors and starts burning up the dance floor... actually, he ends up kicking a lot of big tough guys in the ass, and subsequently pissing them all off.  Still, he manages to find a couple willing girl dance partners!  Just something about that ornery old man.  You can't resist his death wish and his recklessness.  However, the angry guys he kicked in the ass... note the phrasing there.  Also, you can see for yourself.  He doesn't kick anyone's ass, not by a longshot.  His legs are just flying all over the place and, like that hockey episode of The Simpsons, the guys' glutes just happened to occupy that same space.  Still, it is a bar, or the emotional equivalent of international waters, and a couple of the more alpha males have had enough of Poopdeck's antics.  Their hands are big enough to completely wrap around Poop's body... I want to make sure I get the wording right here.  I believe that landlubber says "I'll CHOOSE ya for foist licks!"  That's when you put your fists on something, and whoever's fist is at the top gets said item.  Real kindygarden type stuff, indeed.  Somehow I don't see the big guy giving up Pappy to Mr. Monobrow on the left.
I guess I should point out that Pappy actually realizes that he's pissed these guys off.  Maybe tiptoeing will calm them down a bit!  That he tried the "I'm sorry... Shake!!" bit on one of them surely didn't help.  Popeye arrives at this point... but I don't know.  It's that whole fortunately / unfortunately question again.  Is it indeed fortunate that Mr. Killjoy shows up to save his pappy?  Short term: yes, if only for the audience's benefit.  Long term: Pappy manages to squeak out of the... somehow, the phrase "Fist Tornado" doesn't do the scene justice.  See, this is the kind of thing where a caption contest would come in handy... Fist Earthquake?  Fist Tsunami?... Fist-nami?  Palooka-nado?  Clearly this needs some focus grouping.  The point being, Pappy manages to squib out of the Testosterone Tornado... test-nado?  Anyway, the original acorn of this Mighty Oak of Destruction is reborn, and he gets right back into cutting in to other dude's dancing.  She looks like an original Thimble Theater-er!  One of Olive Oyl's relatives on her father's side, perhaps.
As usual, the time for spinach is at hand, but mostly because it's that time in the proceedings.  Personally, I think Popeye didn't get enough of a beating yet.  Also, he makes a gesture here like "Ah!  I've got an idea... SPINACH!"  Normally it seems to be his last dying gesture when he reaches into his shirt for the can that no one can see.  Not this time.  Also, it used to be that he would eat the spinach, then look into the crystal ball that was his now significantly larger arm muscle to see what piece of machinery rages within... a tank or a turbine, perhaps?  Usually?  No, now he becomes the freakish shapeshifter.  Surely Beetle Juice drew some inspiration from this part for his big finale?
Out the various windows everyone goes flying.  Then we zoom in on the swinging saloon doors, and out comes Popeye, shooing Pappy along like he's a puppy that ran away or something.  A swinging jazzy variation on the Death March plays as they march home to that awful makeshift bunk bed aboard Popeye's dinghy.


Surely this time Pappy's not escaping!  Popeye's got Pappy tied to the hammock with thick sailor's rope, tighter than even the bar bum bastards' fists or the stack of life preservers in Popeye's living room.  Surely he's not escaping this time!  I hate to spoil it, but let's just say that Popeye's angry words were probably a bit too harsh, even though Pappy's catch phrase seems to be "I DON'T LIKE RELATIVES!!!!" this Comfort Cinema?  Probably.  Not as many calories as comfort food, anyhow.  Just as long as I don't think about all the time I should be spending studying Wittgenstein and jQuery......................

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Tony Brown

Sin City, Here We Come... and Away It Goes!!!!!

Not even eye contact!  My face is just too wide... and my hairline can't be helping either.
Well, that's a shock.  I was just briefly thinking that director James Gunn is set for life now!  Maybe not Joss Whedon set for life, but close enough.  As long as he makes the right career decision.  Shouldn't be too hard, as long as he doesn't go back to work for Troma.  No, it's on to the next quasi-game-changing superhero comic book movie that the cinematic landscape is positively littered with these days... and there you have it!  A Guardians sequel.  We are all Groot, indeed.
Oh, and it's #1 again!  Must've been a slow weekend.  There's only the three debuts: the Sin City sequel debuting at #8... ouch... Then there's the latest PG-rated football feel-good flick.  I hesitate to call it a drama.  Where's the drama?  The team's obviously going to win, right?  And last but not least, it's Hit Girl's latest foray into the leading role, and this one's called If I Stay, based on O.J. Simpson's book... I mean, based on a novel by a gal named Gayle Forman.  It's kind of like It's a Wonderful Life but instead of a guy thinking about jumping off a bridge, it's a girl in a coma who's thinking about jumping off the bridge in her mind.  I think they're hoping to ride the coattails of The Fault in Our Stars.  Why not?  Of course, they should be thinking at this point that they can stick around a bit longer than Fault did.  Four weeks in the top 10 isn't stellar.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Godfather of Sideshow Bob

Oh, I just do hate to drive these into the ground, and frankly I wasn't moved by the spirit to do the complete opening scene, which is just lazy, but... ah, the golf course.  Is there any location more cinematic?  I think not.  Bugs Bunny used it... other cartoon characters, I'm sure.  No, it's mostly the domain of live action motion pictures, everything from Caddyshack to Caddyshack II to Tin Cup to that one sequence from Falling Down.  Oh, and of course, Bill Clinton's guilty pleasure, Who's Your Caddy?  Ah HAH!  The IMDb DOESN'T have everything!  And of course, the Stooges, but not Popeye, I don't think.  Not a sailor's kind of sport, apparently.  But surprisingly golf is the sport of animated cats, as we start Tee For Two with Tom whacking away at a golf ball and incidentally making the world's largest divot in the process.  The groundskeepers might as well just make it a new sandtrap and call it a day.
And so, Tom gets out of that hole he dug and hits an immediate hole in one, not counting the five million strokes from just a second ago.  And then... the ball gets kicked back out of the hole.  The golf nightmare has begun.
Before I forget... I should probably give this one four stars, if only for the following reason.  I always meant to find the Tom and Jerry cartoon that contained the following disturbing image... and Tee for Two is it!!!!!!!

Good double bill with: the thematically similar Cue Ball Cat

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Death of a Remake

Our next Joe Besser short is Triple Crossed and, as much as I hate to disagree with Wikipedia, they refer to Triple Crossed as "penultimate."  Now, personally, I cringe at the thought of any Joe Besser Stooge short being referred to in such glowing terms like "penultimate", especially since it doesn't seem to be in a pejorative sense.  Not to mention that it's a remake of the probably far superior He Cooked His Goose.  But that's the influence of Larry for you.  I mean, if you're going to have to do a remake, why not one you had fun with the first time?
(after watching) I think I've been far too lenient with Joe.  I've given a couple of Stooge shorts a "BOMB" rating, but none with Joe so far.  Plenty of them deserve it, on second thought.  Well, that's the weird nature of film reviewing sometimes.  You're not always in a professional mood to give a review of lasting permanence forever and ever amen til the end of time.  It's kind of a subjective, in-the-moment kind of enterprise, especially if you used to do it for a newspaper, where pressure to finish the damn thing is always on.  Anyway, in this instant moment, my fangs are out and ready to bite.  So let's dig in, shall we?
First of all, Triple Crossed has to be the sloppiest Stooge remake ever.  Angela Stevens returns as the long suffering Millie.  See, these were the old days when you could leave your door unlocked... that is, until the likes of Lawrence just started coming in.  Really, aren't all relationships like this exact moment here?
The remake laziness begins right away.  Angela redubs her line over the existing footage so that she can say Joe's name instead of Shemp.  Unprecedented.  If you think that's bad (and you should), a double stands in for new footage of Joe and Belle.  She never turns around!  You never see her face!  Fake Shemp indeed.
But back to the first scene with Larry and Millie.  In case you forgot, Larry leaves after a couple major pratfalls.  In the original, Shemp steals the flowers and ... okay, he's no gentleman.  He doesn't knock on the door, but he does repeat Larry's double take.  And really, aren't all man/woman relationships like this?  The point being, there's a little bit of consistency in the sets.  Cut to Triple Crossed.  Joe comes home and... what the hell?  Where's Millie's bachelorette pad?  Oh, no, not for old long suffering Joe.  Millie's not exactly barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, but she is making her darling Joe a cake.  Yup, sounds like Joe, all right.  Never miss a meal, and never miss dessert.  This is a rather bizarre scene because Joe brings in a turkey and a shotgun and... no, I must'nt!  (slapping face)   Must... move... on.
Okay, now here's how Joe and his vast influence ruins the next scene.  In Goose, Larry gets Shemp a job modeling men's underwear in homes... well, it was a simpler time before the internet ruined everything.  At least, if you go by what was on television!  Here's how Joe ruins the scene.  First of all, Larry gets Joe a job modeling underwear... AND Santa suits!  I'd say "spoiler alert," but that's their job this time!  And second, Larry explicitly tells Joe that his first customer is "my pal Moe's wife."  See, Joe's kinda dumb and he needs all the help he can get solving some of these mysteries in these here Stooge films that he stars in.  Oh, and he also complains to Larry about using the word "playboy."  It comes into play later, arguably, but that's another problem.  I don't ever remember Curly or Shemp complaining about the words that their fellow Stooges use.  Sure, I haven't given the matter much scrutiny, but God, Joe's such a whiny baby.  He must fight hard against even the slightest suggestion that he's not a Christian of only the purest soul.
Okay, now here's how Joe and his vast influence ruins the next scene.  In Goose, Larry sends Millie and Moe over to Moe's apartment at the same time.  Shemp hides under the bear skin rug, then climbs up the chimney, gets shot by Moe (Shemp's scream remains intact, as Wikipedia informs us, and my ears confirm.  Screams of pain weren't in Joe's contract, it seems), then dons his Santa outfit and comes back down the chimney.  Here in Triple Crossed Land, Moe pulls off Joe's Santa beard.  This didn't happen in Goose.  The jig is apparently up.  There's a fresh close-up of an outraged Millie exclaiming "Joe!"  But Joe does use the ... you know, the thing that puts out fires with air... it's full of soot and he hits Moe in the face with it.  Shemp did it better, of course.  That's an undebatable point.  Shemp also ran away in his Santa outfit better; also undebatable.
As for Joe, he's merely delaying his quest for the pure truth, because even a purist like he is realizes that budget constraints and a begrudging respect for the film you're using existing footage from and maintaining plot consistency in the remake are boundaries that must be respected.  But don't worry... Joe will find a way around those.  The last major plot move that Joe ruins involves Larry's triumphant arrival to Moe's apartment where all his plans were supposed to fall into place.  In Goose, Shemp lures Larry towards the janitor's closet, then slams the closet door in his face.  Temporarily stunned, Shemp grabs Larry, pulls him into the closet, dresses him up as Sandy Claus, then literally frogmarches him back to Moe's apartment, where Moe grabs the Santa that blackfaced him!  What could be more perfect?  Certainly not Joe's new version of events.  Here in the T.X., Joe lures Lawrence into the janitor's closet like before.  Joe adds his sadistic new spin on things by repeatedly bashing Larry in the head with a bucket.  Stone cold killa.  Meanwhile, Moe concurrently makes an ass of himself much like before... I mean, exactly as before, because of the previous footage and all.  Now, does Joe dress up Larry in the Santa Claus outfit?  Nope!  Why, he marches Larry right into Moe's apartment and explains Larry's plans to everyone instead.  And, of course, Larry being the tool that he sometimes is, goes right along with Joe's evil scheme.  Well, there's at least one good part to this scene.
And so, how do we end?  Well, as with most of these Besser Stooge shorts, Moe and Larry have to beat up on each other while Joe plays the hero... lol.  Excellent ad lib, Moe.  Well, somebody's gotta make up for Joe's lack of charisma.


It's been a while since I did a proper Stooge film epilogue, and for that I apologize to Google and to my ten devoted followers.  I indeed have let you down, but in the instant case an epilogue is called for.  It's basically the last twenty seconds or so of the film, so it's at least short.  Now, I understand that I'm a square and I really don't know the first thing about comedy.  Much like Eugene Levy's character in Waiting for Guffman, I too sat next to the class clown in school and took notes.  I am also quite terrible at comparative film, and I never took a Comp. Lit course in college, but I'm going to take a stab at it anyway, because I've been thinking a lot about this.  Something about Joe Besser has made me do that a lot lately.  I'm put in mind of the first Deuce Bigalow movie.  I didn't watch all of it, but it's sort of like a Stooge film in its basic structure: Rob Schneider needs some quick money to pay for some damage he caused, big surprise.  But just before that, he meets a gigolo, and he's curious about the profession.  He asks the guy "You get paid to have sex with women?"  The guy says yes.  Then Schneider says "...I gotta talk to my career guidance counselor."  I'm sorry, I got that wrong.  Here's the IMDb quotes page.  Schneider asks the guy "How did you get that job? (gigolo)"  The gigolo answers "I just sorta fell into it."  Schneider says "I'm gonna kill my guidance counselor!"  I'm still scratching my head over that one.  Are we supposed to be laughing with Schneider or at Schneider?  I think it's supposed to be "with."  I mean, I can totally understand his inflated, warped sense of self, but let's leave that aside for now... and maybe forever.  Let's get back to the end of Triple Crossed.  All is forgiven, Joe's the big hero in his Santa suit, and... Millie kisses Joe.  On the mouth!  Ewwwwwwwwwwwwww.... That's cruel and unusual!  Admit it, Angela Stevens.  Come out of retirement and respond to this blog post.  And then, Joe says "See?  I'm no playboy... I think!" then he winks at the camera.  That's right, Joe, you were one Death of a Salesman away from marrying Marilyn Monroe.
Now, I can totally understand Joe Besser's inflated, warped sense of self, but it seems to me that part of being a playboy is having the reputation of playboy.  But I think I see where Besser's coming from.  Sure, you just won back Millie's trust... but is it really worth having?  I mean, da bitch didn't even finish making you that cake!  Dump her loser ass, Joe.  You're a playboy, damn it.  Act like one.
It's too late to keep this brief, but basically, Triple Crossed is a desecration of its proverbial mother log, the far superior He Cooked His Goose.  Awful.  Simply awful.  ZERO STARS.

length of Triple Crossed: 15m58s7frames
minus footage from He Cooked His Goose: 7m43s9f

48.3% new footage!


-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Towed in a Hole, or Luckily They Build Boats Better Now

Now we're getting back to (story) fundamentals!  Of course, at times like these I guess I can't help but narrow my focus to the last couple of Popeye shorts, seeing as how in general there's been a steady decline in the quality of the animation.  No more 3-D backgrounds!  And where the hell is Bluto?  Oh, right... it's still probably Pinto Colvig, the voice of Goofy.  I was studying future Bluto voicer Jackson Beck, and he apparently did some of the voices for the Fleischer Superman shorts.  See?  It's mostly who you know!  Of course, and I think I've said this already, but I'm sure Woody Allen regrets saying that now famous quote, "90% of it is showing up."  Well, how about I quote Kevin Pollak instead, who once quipped "You gotta kiss the right butt."  Of course, his thing's poker these days; not so much with the movies.
But let's try to get back to our next Popeye short, and it's called My Pop, My Pop, which is a play on words of ... something, I don't know.  Maybe it's just a phrase.  Ooh!  How about "My captain, my captain?"  Anyway, like that annoying palindrome "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama," we've got a man, his old man, and a boat.  Popeye.  ...sorry about that.
Anyway, we see Popeye building a boat.  And since the Fleischers were apparently forbidden from using their turntable 3D background technology during the go-go 1940s, we get a foreground that splits in two as we zoom in on Popeye.  Notice the smudges that move to the left as we go.  Sloppy work, guys.  Sloppy.  You can even see them on YouTube!
And so, Popeye's going about the drudgery of building a boat: the semi-swallowing of nails, the spitting them back out into wood, the subsequent nailing, and the final coat of paint.  Things go slower without spinach... sorry, SPOILER ALERT.  Gee, this scenario's kinda boring all by itself.  Why don't we put something or someone else into the mix?  And so... here comes Poopdeck Pappy.  Jack Mercer does double duty as both father and son.  And right away, Pappy starts critiquing son Popeye's boat building.  Of course, what Popeye says next is worse by far: he says to Pappy "You're too old to be young enough to build boats!"  He's also too old and perhaps too tired to properly fight back.  Surely there's comedy to be had from this grim situation?  Somewhere, somehow?
They got it!  Popeye begrudgingly agrees to let Pappy work on the boat with him.  He lets Pappy do one side of the boat, and Popeye will work on the other.  You can imagine how this turns out.  Popeye finds Pappy asleep, and making a strange trilling whistle noise to boot.  Pappy wakes up and declares "I was just restin' so I wouldn't get tired!"  And credit where it's due: Pappy's strong enough to blow his hat in the air (most people can't do that even while sleeping!) and he did make a decent stab at the wave effect on the boat.  Needles to say, Pappy gets mad anew when Popeye politely suggests that Pappy should stop being a damn freeloader and get the hell out of there... something like that.  Pappy's dander is up again... is that the same audio from before?  Oh well.  When a line reading's that good, it bears repeating at least once.  If they used it a third time, sure, go talk to the theater owner and ask for your money back.  Time for Feat of Strength #2.
Feat of Strength #2 involves putting the giant tree-sized mast up and onto the boat... just what size boat is Popeye building here, anywho?  Anywho, Pappy really looks tired now, and soon he's taking another much deserved break.  I mean, c'mon!  The guy walked to the job site, for God's sake!  If it were Bluto, he'd be driving and smoking a cigar.  Soon, Popeye's climbing up... oh, SPOILER ALERT, Pappy ends up at the top of the mast, so Popeye climbs up to get him down.  Pappy starts plummeting to the ground before Popeye can get to him, so Popeye has to quickly climb down and catch Pappy.  Lol.  Ah, cartoon physics.  How some people love to overexplain them to death.  Oh, it's so spinach time.  Just like meth helps certain people take apart their toasters and DVD players, turning screws with naught but their fingernails, spinach gives Popeye the focus and energy he needs to really turn this average boat into something damn seaworthy.
Now, I'm going to give a shout out to my artist fella friend who once defined art as a guy who rakes a big pile of leaves, disperses them again, then sets one on the ground delicately... something like that.  I knew I wouldn't do it justice... so too does Popeye arrange Pappy and himself so that it looks like Pappy built Popeye's new Super Tug all by his stony lonesome.  Naturally, either way it's fine with Pappy, and he happily walks off into the sunset, so to speak, singing his happy song from before... is that the same audio from before?  Oh well.  The laugh at the end is new!  Sure, this turn of events would make Ayn Rand turn in her grave, and turn the stomachs of her dozens of living followers, but that's how it goes sometimes.  Credit doesn't always go to where it's properly due.  Why, look at the derivatives market!

Good double bill with: what else?  The next Popeye cartoon, With Poopdeck Pappy!!!
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Kobie Brown

I gotta move on.  I just gotta... okay, so our next dude is named Kobie Brown, and so far the only thing on his IMDb C.V. is called From Fatherless to Fatherhood.  I'm hesitant to run my Six Degrees of Spielberg program... but his cameraman Shawn Peters shows some promise.  Stick with him if you want to go places, Kobie!

I Talked Your Folks Out of Making You See "Expendables 3"

Let me reiterate: ...WHAT ABOUT BOYHOOD?!!!!!!!!  Meanwhile, Yahoo Screen keeps sending me emails with the headline "The 9 videos you have to see this week."  Really?  Seriously?  If I fall behind on the nine videos, will I really be that far behind?  Will my best friends ditch me?  Will they say to me "Welp, sorry, I can't be your friend anymore.  You didn't see the nine videos this week.  You're just a loser now."  Well, I'm just going to stick with my mom's advice, because many moons ago she said to me, "Well, if your friends don't like you for who you are, then they don't deserve your friendship... seriously, though, how hard is nine videos a week?"  Ba-BOOM!  See how I did that?  Too obvious?  Ah, nothing's funny anymore.  Everyone's got a straight face like the aggressively mood-neutral bumpers in Papa Pear Saga.
---[Sunday proper] FINALLY!  JEEZUS, TOM!!!  It's God Damned Boyhood at #10.  Apparently the 12 year epic cost only $2.4 million to make, so it should be well on its way to profitability.  But old Hollywood's got much bigger fish to fry.  Rather than documenting its target audience for such a long time, bore-ring, their main preoccupation in life is appealing to said target audience, and said target audience said this weekend that they wanted to see those damn Turtles again.  So much for feeling the Oogielove.  Yes, the 90s are making a comeback, no question about it: violence in Israel, ebola outbreaks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  But it wasn't all happy days, so to speak.  There was the creation and just as prompt destruction of Deee-Lite... I think I'm misspelling that properly.  Not to mention that Stallone was on the decline in the 90s.  Bomb after bomb until the dark times, the 2000s, when he for a brief time was in Steven Seagal territory, only able to get a film put out on video.  You know, to reach his audience more directly.  Namely, people who've never gotten dressed up to go out publicly, let alone to a place where they show large images on some wall.  What are they?  Animals?
But Stallone's time has not passed yet, and even though it was beat by what looks like a rather forgettable comedy called Let's Be Cops, The Expendables 3 limps its way to theaters.  Sure, #4 sounds bad, as does its take of about $17 million dollars, but it's still $17 million more dollars than I've got!  Sure, Mel Gibson personally bought all those tickets just to juice the numbers, but still!  At least someone's keeping this economy going!
Oh, and our last debut this week is something called The Giver.  Must be the latest horror flick.  Or the latest production of a Christian megachurch.  Either way..................................

RIP Robin Williams

Well, I'm not as eloquent as "Shep" Smith, and he'd be the first to agree, so I'll just try to keep it brief.  Everyone talks about Mrs. Doubtfire and God knows what else as their favourite Robin Williams movies.  No love for Death to Smoochy?  For me, it's probably The Survivors that's one of my top five or ten Robin Williams favorites.  And, of course, the extremely unique Popeye.  Then, of course, he tried like hell to play against type with One Hour Photo and The Final Cut (2004).  I think because the pressure to promote was off on The Final Cut (2004) that in a way it was the more successful performance in that regard.  But, as with Don Rickles in a way, his appearances on talk shows were in some ways better than his movies.  There's a reason he was on the second to last Carson show!  Anyway, I'll leave it for others to speculate the why, and for the police to selectively reveal more and more of the gruesome details of his apparent suicide.  I guess Steve Guttenberg liked Phil Hartman more.  Rest in peace, brother.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

All Cats Go To Heaven... Seriously, No Matter What They've Done

Oh... now we're talking.  For those of you who need concrete proof that Tom and Jerry is the inspiration for Itchy and Scratchy on The Simpsons, our next Tom and Jerry should suffice.  The title?  Mouse Trouble.  But really, when you get right down to it, isn't this what all Tom and Jerry shorts are about?  I guess it all depends on who you relate to more.  If you relate more to the cat, then boy, you ain't kidding!  If, on the other hand, you relate more to the mouse, why... you just might take umbrage, as well you should.
Now, sure, I could just sit here and be all cynical about the plot, noting how it's similar to Two Gophers from Texas or even Brother Brat to an extent, but really, the conceit of cartoon characters using a book to help them achieve a specific goal is kind of an old one... ooh!  There's that part in Wabbit Twouble where Elmer reads from the book about grizzly bears!  But it's hard to complain when the cartoon is made as well as this.  Also, the filmmakers dip their little toes in Recurring Gag Lake, as the cat suffers setback after setback.
But let's get on to the plot.  And so, just like the evil liberal legislators wanted to start putting a skull and crossbones on packs of cigarettes, Tom the cat is similarly trying to step up his game by getting a book in the mail.  The book?  "How to Catch a Mouse."  (A Random Mouse book... get it?  Random Mouse!  ...see, there used to be these companies called publishing houses.  They would make books... I know, right?  They were like Kindles, but without the constant electromagnetic hum.)
Part of the joy of Mouse Trouble is cataloguing the ways in which the mouse outsmarts the cat... over and over and over again.  It starts right away as the cat tries to read his weaponized text in peace.  Tom goes through the whole book, chapter by chapter... even though all the advice seems to be summarized in each chapter's name.  You can probably guess my favorite is chapter 3, what with all the twangy sound effects and all.
Now, before Tex Avery made each millisecond of these cartoon proceedings so action packed, once upon a time things got padded out... you know, kinda like with the Stooge films.  The "curiosity" episode goes on a bit too long, as does the "surprise package" episode, which the South Park boys must have learned something from that one time that Kenny got cut in half with a chainsaw.  See, you just can't rush something like that!  You gotta stretch out the time, savor every moment, what have you.
...ooh!  Just remembered.  There's also the last straw in The Aristo-Cat when a book informs the cat that, in fact, the mice are the small, manipulative creatures and the giant bulldog isn't.  And so, just like the end of Back Alley Oproar, it's time for Tom to gather all the giant explosives he can and blow that little jerk Jerry to Kingdom Come.  In addition to his toupée, that's where the recurring hiccup gag pays off.  It's a bit like Tom Selleck's loss of parts in Folks!... anyone?  Okay, skip that one.  Personally, the fuse gag in Back Alley Oproar's a bit funnier, but why nitpick?  I mean, why?  Anyway, after the explosion, much like the rocket fuel truck in Armed and Dangerous, somehow the space around Jerry's mousehole is okay, but the rest of the house... nay, the landscape to the horizon is a charred ruin.  That's when we see Tom headed for heaven with harp in hand on his little cloud.  I guess they give you a free flight up to the Pearly Gates before they pass judgment on your feline ass.  Personally, if it weren't for that package scene, this would be a four-star classic for me.

Good double bill with: Cue Ball Cat

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Not 'Giant' Enough, or Treasure of the Stoogia Madre

It's time for our next Joseph Q. Besser-based Stooge short, Oil's Well that Ends Well.  Speaking of ending well, there's only a small handful of these left!  And according to Wikipedia, they all incorporate previous footage from other shorts.  Gotta get back to my math again...
Oh, and I should probably give a shout out to my close confidant who turned me on to this one well before I got to it.  They decided too that, yeah, maybe it was time to brave the wilds of the creepy Besser Forest.  You know, just to try something different for a change.  Anyway, let's just dive right in, shall we?  So, this is a remake of the Curly classic, Oily to Bed, Oily to Rise.  However, there's only a teentsy tiny portion of the footage from that one reused over again.  I won't bother counting the wheezing sounds that are reused for the water pump, just point out that they're reused as well.
Now, maybe this isn't something I can blame on Joe, but part of the joy of Stooge films used to be that they would lose their on-screen jobs.  And not just lose them, mind you, but send their employers into a murderous rage.  Case in point: The Tooth Will Out.  I think that's the one... oh, yeah.  Now THAT'S the stuff!  I've said it before, but... God bless you, 69789Darius!  Keep on bringing the classics to the people.  Sony be damned... just kidding, Sony!  Anyway, back to gruesome reality.  I guess the Stooges are growing up after all!  They've got plot to peddle now!  Losing their jobs is but a mere afterthought now!  Now, I know the Stooges have had a mama in the past, but a papa? ...okay, it's slowly coming back to me.  Gee, if there was only a blog that reviewed all the Stooge films.  Sure would come in handy right about now!  3 Dumb Clucks features a father of the Stooges, for one.  SPOILER ALERT: we don't see the father this time, though in retrospect I find it hard to believe that Joe Besser would pass up a chance to play the role of the father.  Wonder how he'd treat Larry and Moe?  Hmm!  That's a real head-scratcher!
Okay, back to work.  It seems like all of Curly's old lines get done by Larry now, but Curly's wishing theme is carried on by Joe.  I guess it's supposed to make him look good somehow.  Sorry, but for some reason I don't feel like cataloguing all his "wishes" that come true... and frankly, neither does Larry.  Why, he does it a second time here! ...anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself.  The boys receive a letter from their pa that he's in the hospital and that he needs money for an operation.  Ah, the good ol' USA.  Even back then, the finest health care in the world.  Anyway, pa sows the seed of a brilliant idea: find uranium on that old mining property of theirs!  This will kill two birds with one stone: pa's operation will be paid for, and there'll be money left over to join the one percent!  I'll try not to burst that bubble... well, okay, just one question.  Why exactly were they worried about losing their jobs?  Why haven't they thought about their mining property before this?  Oh well.  I just don't know how it is, I guess.  Moe property, Moe problems, I always say.  Actually, Larry bursts the bubble too, listing off a list of things they'll need to start mining.  To cut to the chase, sort of, Joe makes a few more wishes that come true.  Small things for now.  But Joe's not totally inhuman.  With great power comes great responsibility, and Joe starts getting spooked at his good run of wishes coming true.  Moe backs away slowly... if that doesn't sum up the Stooge fan's relationship with Joe Besser right there, well, nothing will.
Next scene: that damn cabin again!  Wonder if they're going to have potatoes and eggs again... damn, I'm hungry.  Oh well, only 10 hours til breakfast... nope, Moe's going to make oatmeal, when suddenly... Larry realizes he forgot to buy the milk.  And then, we all learn something about Joe that I wish I never knew... he can't eat oatmeal without milk.  Oh well, carry on I must... like Yoda?  And so, Joe wishes for milk... and lo and behold, his wish gets granted again.  Larry makes a quip that should resonate with our meat-obsessed culture of the now.  And once again, Joe proves he's a stone cold killa.  Look at that indifference!  Look at that strength!  Dayamn... And once again, Moe's a total killjoy.  Larry has a rare moment when he's enjoying himself, so Moe of course has to put that to a stop quickly.  This leads to a rare occasion where Moe uses the block.  I don't ever remember him doing that!  Gee, too bad there's not some sort of blog where... anyway, Larry's steam doesn't cool down as quickly anymore.  Moe tells him "Toss me those groceries!" and, dayamn, Larry's got a big can and he's winding up like a baseball pitcher!  Larry stops himself at the last minute, of course, but only because Moe sees what he's doing.  I guess we're not quite at the last straw yet.
Anyway, Joe comes in with the cow.  As for milking the cow, Larry's up to bat first... hmm!  I wonder if this shot of the cow turning around is old stock footage.  This will change my calculations, if only slightly.  Maybe it'll be up to 1.75 percent old footage.  Larry ends up getting kicked by the cow and he smashes against the wall, getting hit by some falling stuff.  The cans miss him, but he gets hit dead on by a container of flour.  Moe  shakes his head and takes over the milking of the cow.  Moe gets some much needed revenge on Joe by squirting him in the face.  Joe sounds a bit like Curly here... now I'm getting scared!!!
Now, maybe I'm just an immature teenager at heart, or maybe coming up is the best damn passage of this damn film.  Why?  Because shi... stuff gets blown up real good.  And look!  They've got a Geiger counter and everything!  No expense was spared here.  And Neo-Luddites take note: no matter how technology advances, the following Stooge joke is timeless.  Moe asks "What does the Geiger counter say?"  And Larry answers... well, best to see for yourself.  Soon after, Larry accidentally hits Moe in the head with his mining hammer... you know, that special kind with a chisel-shaped triangular head?  Note how Larry apologizes to Moe... kinda half-hearted, dontcha think?  Still, Larry's punishment seems a bit severe.  I think Moe was using a real rock by mistake!  Again, Larry's steam doesn't cool so easily here!  Dayamn... now who's the stone kold killa?  ...never mind, Joe proves himself Top Dawg again by chucking one of those clusters of dynamite sticks at Moe.  Moe scolds Joe, but Joe's hearing is bad, so he gets up close to hear what Moe had to say.  If this here scene doesn't highlight the tension that Joe brings to the group, well, nothing does.  Now, I know certain quarters want to give Joe credit for everything good the Stooges ever done, but I must protest.  Take this scene, for example.  Joe breaks the Fourth Wall.  Can he leave nothing intact on his crusade of destruction, for God's sake?  Now, some like to think that this is the only time that they broke the Fourth Wall, or that Joe did it with such panache, making all other attempts look like a proverbial pile of puke.  Well, to them I say... what's THIS?  Chopped liver?  Here's another good one.  Anyway, we move on to Joe's next labored gag.  For me, it's an homage to the following scene from the veritable Curly classic How High Is Up?  Now, if this scene doesn't further illustrate the tension between Joe and the other two, nothing does.
Next scene: now, to rather blatantly pad out the running time of the film, it's another case of Stooges v. Bunk Bed From Hell.  You might remember similar struggles from such Curly classics as I Can Hardly Wait and G.I. Wanna Home.  Here, it's like Berth Marks but without the moving train.  As usual, Moe suffers a few of the usual consequences of taking the lower berth.  Joe is so weak that he never makes it to the top level!  At least Curly got up there!  Further tension between Joe and Moe here.  The only part that seems a little unique is Moe's following attempt to help Larry get to the upper berth.  Can I safely call that a guilty pleasure?  I hope so... oh, Joe's just so sad and weak.  No two ways about it.  And yet, once again he proves he's just a stone cold killa.  He's like a cornered skunk, I suppose.  Don't mess with Joe.  After all, when all is said and done, Larry and Moe end up on the top bunk, having been rendered unconscious by the adjacent wall.
And finally... a sad tribute to the scene from the source of the old footage, safe to say.  The pump gets to wheeze twice, and plus there's no dramatic tension of the oil well being on someone else's land.  When the oil starts flowing, they're way more worried about stopping it.  You know, because they're losing so much money.  Not to mention the fact that you actually feel something for Curly when he gets yanked off of the gushing oil and plummets to the ground towards what would be a painful death for anyone else.  Joe gets on the ride a second time!  Maybe this time the fall will kill him.  You can say it all you want, Joe, but Oil's Well does not end well.

Length of short: 16m21s
Length without old footage: 16m7s17frames

percentage of old footage: 1.3%!  A record low!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan