A very effective way to inspire Maribou to go off on a rant is to talk about how various entertainments are gendered. “This is a girl video game” or “That is a short story for boys” can get a good 10 minute speech out of her. (An aside, we were arguing various political theories and she asked me if I had ever read Anthem and, as a lark, I responded “eh, I don’t read women” (note: of course I had read Anthem) and she did this thing where she started a sentence and abandoned it halfway through the first syllable and she did that, like, three times before settling on “wow”. The conversation continued.) Where was I? Oh, yes. Gendered entertainments. There is one thing that Maribou has said that might count as evidence for something being “for boys”, if there was evidence of things being for boys, which, she’d like to point out, she’s not exactly conceding. If, however, there was evidence for this, it would be The Three Stooges.

Ah, the Three Stooges.

I grew up with them. I’m sure that most folks my age grew up with them on the local UHF station. I’m sure that most of us (the guys, anyway) have a story or three about laughing so hard that we could barely breathe. One of my old pastors told us the story of some recent immigrants they were sponsoring who couldn’t understand a word of English but thought that the Three Stooges was absolutely accessible and they were laughing while watching it.

You may remember, 12 years ago, there was a somewhat okay movie that came out about them on television in 2000 (if you don’t remember it, you can still read the absolutely wonderful review by David Edelstein in Slate). Well, I had heard rumors that the Farrelly brothers who, to be honest, are not exactly my favorite directors (but I have to admit that they are capable of putting moments of heart in and around moments of supremely discomforting gross-out comedy) were trying to put a script together for a Three Stooges movie. *THEN* I had heard that they’d be getting Benicio del Toro, Sean Penn, and Jim Carrey to play Moe, Larry, and Curly respectively… at which point my mind was probably blown. It went from “they will screw it up” to “they’re insane”… but, while doing research on the Stooges (after seeing the trailer), I came across Peter Farrelly’s theory of Stooge Appreciation:

“Growing up, first you watched Curly, then Moe, and then your eyes got to Larry. He’s the reactor, the most vulnerable. Five to fourteen, Curly; fourteen to twenty-one, Moe. Anyone out of college, if you’re not looking at Larry, you don’t have a good brain.”

And so I went back and I watched a clip or two. I came to the conclusion that, maybe, it’d be possible to pull off a Three Stooges movie. I also may not have a good brain.

I’ll share some of what I saw.

I was enchanted by Curly in this one (pay attention from 2:30 until 4:00). I also did some watching of “I’ll Never Heil Again” (where I found out that Moe, in a hurry to get to his daughter’s birthday party, left in a hurry after shooting while still in costume and the local police got phone calls about Hitler running red lights in Hollywood… anyway, start watching at 5:20) as well as “Micro-Phonies” (start at 4:50) and, in each one, was still delighted by Curly and saw the chemistry between the three as being wonderful… but, jeez… Curly was brilliant.

Which brings us to the new Three Stooges movie trailer. If you haven’t seen it:

What to think, what to think… they got the voices right. This is important. They got the sound effects of the slaps, pokes, and other percussion right. This is even more important. It looks like they stole the story from the Blues Brothers and put the Three Stooges in it (which *MIGHT* work… as bare bones scripts go, you could do a *LOT* worse than helping out the nuns at the Orphanage in which you were raised). From what I can tell from the trailer, which isn’t a lot, they captured Larry perfectly, they captured Moe for the most part, and Curly… well… There was only one Curly. Not that I hold it against them for trying to capture him, of course… but… Ah, well. I feel like I ought to see this if only to give the Stooges my support.

Maybe it’s a guy thing.


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. They did get all the violence and sounds just right. I’ll give them that. I still can’t help but think it will suck and suck hard. The Stooges work better in anarchic shorts, attaching to much plot not only misses the point of the TS but takes them out of their element. It would be like trying to make a feature length Bugs Bunny cartoon. They are more about bursts of chaos and lunacy. I’m sure it also colors my view of this movie, but the taking of old characters and putting them in modern situations usually doesn’t work for me. Moe eyes pokes Snooki: well can anybody not love that but that is only a novelty that takes us out of the aggressive manic violence that is the TS.

    I always thought Shemp was good also, but Curly is special.

    • I loved Shemp but Shemp and Larry both had a sadness about them. Curly always seemed delighted to be there and, as such, you had three emotions with the Larry/Moe/Curly trio as opposed to the two with Larry/Moe/Shemp.

  2. Never seen the stooges, but I doubt I’d enjoy it. I’m not a big fan of slapstick, for instance I’ve never really cared for Mr Bean either.

    • The Stooges are bit past slapstick. They do have their special charm…a violent, crazed, bent charm.

    • God, I hated Mr Bean.
      The three stooges are funny, crazy — they do all of what Arrested Development does with physical humor, and then cube it to the point of “ow, that hurts”

    • I could never quite figure out how the same guy that created the Black Adder series was the same guy that created Mr. Bean. One was so brilliant, the other so God awful.

      • Aw man, I’ll stick up for Mr. Bean. As physical comedians go, Atkinson’s not Sellers-level, but he is pretty good. Don’t understand the hatred.

        • I should clarify, I am talking about the show, never saw the movies.

      • The amazing thing to me is that the same guy can be brilliant as both the purely physical Bean and the purely verbal Blackadder. It’s like if Stephen Hawking could hit .400.

        • Exactly. I wonder if ‘Bean’ just seems too simple or lowbrow to people in the present day. But in their day the Stooges (and maybe the Marx Bros., for all I know, who I agree were brilliant) were ‘lowbrow’ (heck, Bugs Bunny et al were for *kids*).

          Were even the genius likes of Chaplin and Keaton considered ‘artistes’ in their day? Or at the time, were they simply popular entertainers with a gift for physical motion, whom people turned their noses up at, once they got a whiff of ‘real’ filmmaking like Welles?

          Time will tell, and I have a feeling I could show my great-grandkids ‘Bean’ one day and it would still be funny, because great physical comedy is timeless. (though God help us all if it turns out that one day we look back at something like ‘Ace Ventura’ as genius :-).

          I like ‘Blackadder’ too, but that’s no reason to dis ‘Bean’.

          • Mark Twain, in his day, was considered a comedian who also wrote kids’ books. New Yorker types liked the Marx Brothers, so they had intellectual cred.

  3. I was going to shake my tiny virtual fist at you, but then I realized I couldn’t bring myself to watch any of the clips you posted/linked to, so there’s that.

    I’m very happy that they make you so very happy.



    *scrinches up nose, tries one*

  4. I was never a Stooges guy. I could rattle on about the Marx Brothers enough to drive everyone out of this sub-blog, so you’re all lucky it’s getting late. Of course, no one would be foolish enough to make a movie with anyone else playing the Marxes, except that …

    There was an obscure almost-one-man-show about Groucho that I saw on TV many years ago. It starred Gabe Kaplan (yes, Mr. Kotter himself), and cringeworthy as that sounds …

    Kaplan was fishing brilliant. He simply was Groucho, at every phase of his life, from the young vaudeville singer/dancer just learning that his gift was actually comedy, to the classic movie character, to the avuncular roue of You Bet Your Life, to the old man who …. Well, it’s like this. When I was little, Groucho would appear on The Hollywood Squares or the Mike Douglas Show. His voice was hesitant and a bit slurred, and he wasn’t always following the conversation, but every so often things would click and out would come something sharp and sarcastic and surreal and brilliant. Kaplan was exactly that guy.

    If you ever run across the tape of that, snap it up.

    • I’m also percolating a post about Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, and The Little Rascals. They’re not even *CLOSE* to ready… but they’re there.

      (Hrm. There isn’t a *SINGLE* youtube clip of that Gabe Kaplan movie. I find this surprising.)

      • Four words with respect to Laurel and Hardy: Sons of the Desert

    • ever seen Minnie’s Boys? I’ve read the libretto at least (yes, yes, libretto is the wrong word. it’s not quite an opera.)

    • I much prefer the Marx Bros to the Stooges. (But I think that “A Night at the Opera” is MUCH better than “Duck Soup”, however alone I might be.) I like that the MB played with the visual, the auditory, turning expectations upside down, and not just slapstick.

      • (But I think that “A Night at the Opera” is MUCH better than “Duck Soup”, however alone I might be.)

        Like a Romney fan at an OWS sit-in.

    • I remember Moe on The Mike Douglas show; he was the last survivor of the Stooges. His hair was styled differently, but he combed it back into “Moe” style in a few seconds.

      When he came out, MD put his straight hand up in front of his nose to block the 2-finger eye poke. Moe, never missing a beat, poked him in the eyes with the index fingers of each hand.

      A true professional

  5. I loved the Stooges as a kid. I normally hate slapstick, but there is something about the Stooges that overcomes it for me.

    I will most likely see this movies, though I will do it alone. I would not subject my wife to it. I would owe waaaaaaayyyyyy to much if she did actually come.

    • The sound effects push it over, I think. The fact that there always seems to be no hard feelings after getting hit in the head with a wrench does some lifting there as well.

  6. I never really watched the Stooges, as I was too young, but never really thought they were something for me. The other day, the commercial came on and halfway through wifey muttered something about men being stupid… I didn’t really catch it because I was trying to stifle my giggle. The odd thing is, I couldn’t really tell you what was funny about it; yet, a 30-second commercial still reduced me to boyish giggles.

    • The three clips I linked to are in the upper tier of quality (seriously, most of the stuff they did was only good because of *THEM* rather than because of the strength of the script).

  7. My mother is an insane Stooges fan. Insane. Whenever she meets a new person, it is inevitable that she will ask whether they like the Stooges. (My father, brother and I would jokingly place bets about how long it would take her to bring them up, and odds were always heavy on the ~10 minute time frame.) The scene where they regurgitate feathers in “Uncivil Warriors” makes her cry with laughter just thinking about it.

    Seriously… insane.

    All of us guys in the family find them mildly amusing, at best.

    • The next time you speak with her, ask her about Farrelly’s theory of Stooge Appreciation, if you remember. Specifically: how much merit does it have?

  8. There are two types of people in the world. Those who identify with Tweety and the Road Runner… and those who identify with Sylvester and Wile E. Coyote.

    That’s not a complete comment, but that’s the best I can do.

    • The first time you watch Tom and Jerry, you can be excused for thinking that Jerry is the underdog.

      By the seventeenth cartoon you watch, you ought to be prepared to argue against the argument that one decides an underdog by the scoreboard (and the season) rather than the uniforms.

      • And there are a few cartoons where T&J aren’t even fighting. Rare but fun.

    • Does anyone in the world identify with Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam?

      Bugs is another country.

      • There are *RULES* for Bugs. They wanted the writers to know that Bugs was *NEVER* to be the aggressor. He would show up, ask what was going on, be treated poorly, and *THEN* go to a “this means WAR” stance. Elmer Fudd was the guy who opened aggression. Yosemite Sam was the guy who shot first. Bugs? He was happy to be walking along until he was treated poorly… and then, woe betide the wrongdoer!

        (If you want to see what a Bugs without these rules would look like, watch Woody Woodpecker.)

        • The only time I can think of Bugs as the aggressor is in that one when Daffy is being messed with because Bugs is the artist and he’s putting Daffy in ridiculous situations (a gag they did with Elmer as the artist and Bugs as the victim, too), and that’s a definite breaking of the wall short.

          Bugs is allowed to be *mean*, but only when someone else messes with his tail or his ears.

          Heckle & Jeckle were meaner than Woody Woodpecker, if I’m remembering correctly, but yeah, they’re the Dark Side.

          • “Duck Amuck” is one of those “sweet on the tongue, sour in the belly” cartoons for that very reason.

        • Watching Woody Woodpecker now, I’m struck by how mean and nasty and dishonest he is. And I remember how much I enjoyed Woody Woodpecker as a kid. And it makes me wonder…what freaking kind of kid was I?!

          Bugs was never mean and nasty and dishonest (even when he was the artist drawing Daffy it didn’t feel malicious).

  9. A few very, very random thoughts:

    1. The trailer for the Stooges movie reminds me less of the Stooges and more of the Gus Van Sant shot by shot remake of Psycho. And my thought for each was the same: Why?

    2. You’re naming the episodes you did reminds me that growing up, my friends and I all agreed that our favorite Stooges movie (episode?) was Pardon My Backfire. I remember not one things bout it, but I remember that its name was Pardon My Backfire.

    3. I was the only kid in my neighborhood who actually like Shemp. But none of us liked Curly Joe, and would turn the channel if it turned out it was a Curly Joe episode.

    4. When I was 7, Raymond Sanchez taught me the hard way that if your friend is suddenly pretending to be Moe, you have to very quick on the uptake and recognize it right away. Because if you don’t get your hand sticking out from your nose to block the v-shaped poke, your eyes will be semi-swollen shut for a day or two.

    5. I remember the gag about serving a can of peas when someone told them to serve canopies being shoved into every other movie/episode. We didn’t know what canopies were, so it wasn’t funny back then. Looking back, it’s still not very funny.

    • I didn’t remember pardon my backfire until I youtubed it. It was one of their 3D films (that, I hope, worked better in 3D than in 2D). Experience being Larry here, at the 2:00 mark.

  10. The three stooges is one of those things that used to be considered children’s entertainment. Now, you could never get them past the censors. And For Good Reason! Maybe they’re okay for kids 9 and up?

  11. For what it’s worth I’ll shout into the void here.

    I love the Stooges. Shemp is okay, I can’t stand Curly Joe or the other Curly clones. Did you know after Larry had a stroke that Moe was fixing to have Emil Sitka (“Hold hands, you lovebirds.”) take his place? It’s true. Sad that Moe felt his compatriots were imminently replaceable much like Dick Sargent and Dick York. Dick York was the superior Dick even though Dick Sargent was a bigger Dick. Plus I’m constantly reminded of one Three Stooges farce where there were three sets of triplets. It wasn’t that funny but the camerawork was fascinating how they maintained a thin narrative.

    Speaking of remakes, Michael Bay is going to do Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Instead of them being real turtles he’s going to have them be aliens.


    By the way I’m surprised at the number of men here who weren’t fans of The Three Stooges.

  12. An aside. For all of Dave Sim’s foibles he’s a decent artist and has done some wonderful autobiographies which are fictionalized to fit his universe. Pick up Latter Days (better to borrow it) and enjoy the first third. Once you see Todd McFarlane or Woody Allen show up just close the book and think about how nice it was to see another aspect of the Stooges which treated them with more respect than Moe gave Larry or Curly.

  13. I’ll cop to it; I’m a Stooges fan. In my considered judgment “A Plumbing We Will Go” (on YouTube – make sure you get the right one) is still their best work. Yes, there’s a racial element that makes me very uncomfortable, but it’s still some of their very best work. So I watch it with a guilty conscience but, on the other hand, the Stooges are the very opposite of enlightened liberalism. So it’s my guilty pleasure

    I’ll probably give the movie a pass. The Stooges are like chamber music – best taken small scale, and better suited (as has been observed above) to shorts and TV. Moreover, I’m not sure the film can sustain itself. The originals were so GOOD at what they did (it’s very hard to do that sort of slapstick well)- think parlor magic v. bloviated David Copperfield extravaganza.

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