The Three Stooges
I didn’t go to see “The Three Stooges” because I thought it was the best movie that is currently playing in theaters. I saw it out of pure nostalgia.
One of my earliest vivid memories is waking up early, heading downstairs by myself, turning on the old Zenith, and watching Looney Toons & Friends on TBS.
More than any of the cartoons, I enjoyed the Three Stooges. I was so impressed and fascinated by the Stooges that I researched the history of the comedy team and learned everything I could about them. (I guess that is the kind of odd five year old boy who ends up writing an entertainment column when he grows up).
I learned that theaters used to show a few short-length comedies before screening the main attraction. The 15 minute Three Stooges short comedies became a staple of the American movie-going experience in the 1930s.
Moses Horowitz, Larry Feinberg, and Jerome (Curly) Horowitz – a trio of vaudeville-trained, second-generation immigrants from New York and Philadelphia – punched and slapped their way to superstardom.
The humor was lowbrow, but The Three Stooges were about more than just slapstick violence. The Stooges were Depression-era working stiffs. They were blue-collar, ethnic Americans who existed to bring dirt and chaos into the homes of the snotty upper class and tear them down to size.
In January, 1940 – two years before the US declared war on Germany – The Stooges attacked European Fascism in “You Natzi Spy!” The politically-charged satire featured Curly as a Hermann Goering-inspired henchman and Moe as a buffoonish, Hitler-esque dictator. You never saw Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse do that (and not just because Walt Disney wasn’t necessary rooting against the Nazis).
Unsurprisingly, The Three Stooges made an impression on enough people to inspire a 21st century Hollywood remake.
Also unsurprisingly, The Farrelly brothers’ (“Dumb and Dumber”) version of the Three Stooges strips away all of the social commentary and leaves nothing but wry wordplay and silly slapstick.
But that’s good enough. I enjoyed “The Three Stooges.” The family-friendly story of three naïve friends going off into the world to raise $830,000 to save their orphanage kept me entertained and kept me laughing.
Kids will probably be in stitches when the Stooges break into a maternity ward and use the male babies as weapons in a squirt-gun fight.
I was laughing out loud when Moe joined the cast of “The Jersey Shore” and beat up on The Situation and Snooki. But I’m certainly not going to argue that “The Three Stooges” is a sophisticated film for grown ups. It isn’t.
Still, there is something timeless and magical about a sudden eye-gouge and a well-timed slap in the face. I’m pretty sure that children – especially male children – are going to like “The Three Stooges.”
Meanwhile, mature adults – especially female adults – should avoid this movie like the plague. But you already knew that.