Do the Stooges Still Matter?

I’m not talking about Iggy Pop and the Stooges, rather Moe, Larry, Curly and Shemp. Kids of a certain generation were exposed to the slapstick humor of these three bumbling characters. Count me as one of them. Many afternoons I sat in front of the television watch them slap, poke eyes and drop heavy items on each other. In all, 220 Stooges films were produced including 190 of the “shorts” and the remainder are feature films.

3 stooges

If there was ever a disclaimer about not trying this at home, it should have been scrolled across the bottom of the screen during each short feature. The Stooges were generally a boy’s delight as I’m not sure how many girls found interest in their antics.

For many years, Hollywood bounced around ideas for a Stooges movie. Even Mel Gibson (remember him?) was toying with playing one of the roles. The eventual film, released in 2012 and was directed by the Farrelly brothers, was a snoozer, not very entertaining or engaging. However, it was successful enough that a sequel is on the way. Lowbrow never goes out of style and Hollywood will cash in on anything with even a whiff of money.

I believe the closest project to Stoogeland was the Home Alone films. The first two films anyway. Most people don’t realize there were more sequels made but after the Home Alone 2, they were straight to video, without the principal talent of the first two films. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern were almost Stooges.

Do today’s parents allow their children to watch The Three Stooges? I’m guessing not because of the violence but then there are many other choices, like video games where the object is to shoot or destroy monsters, vampires or other mythical forms of life.

If someone were to ask me, what’s the appeal of three morons clowning around, wreaking havoc on unsuspecting people and punishing each other with assorted mayhem? They are funny in a lowbrow manner and their antics are entertaining if predictable. I would also say they are not mean-spirited, even while gouging each other’s eyes. The Stooges worked as a team and although their frustrations are taken out on each other, you have a sense there are deep bonds between them. In real life, Moe, Curly and Shemp were brothers so many some of that sibling rivalry carried over onto the screen.

Three_Stooges_Intro_Card_1952In all the times I watched them as kid, I never once thought about doing to someone else what the Stooges did to each other. I was never confused by what I say on TV and thought I could apply those things to other kids. Their gags never tempted me to poke my sister’s eye out or drop a load of bricks on little Johnny’s head. If I were a parent of a young child I wouldn’t allow a steady diet of The Three Stooges or of most programs on TV, or violent video games.

So, back to the original question, are the Stooges still relevant? Until I found out there is another film on the way I would have guessed not. Sony owns the rights to the Three Stooges and the old films, and Stooge-related intellectual properties (how’s that for an oxymoron?) still makes a lot of money. For my generation, which is before color television programs was standard, the Three Stooges are a nostalgic journey. Watching them did not make me into some maladjusted, fringe member of society. I think that I was a normal kid but the jury may still be out on that. Funny, that jury has been meeting for a long time, what else can they be considering?


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