Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Three Stooges' Eternally Moronic

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Three Stooges' Eternally Moronic

Article excerpt

The cyclical nature of Stooge-mania is not unlike that associated with biblical plagues, locust invasions and the reliable return of Halley's comet.

They were Ted Healy's comets, originally. But were they the greatest film comedy team? The Marx Brothers, Laurel & Hardy, and Abbott & Costello would beg to differ. Yet for legions of sophomoric and sophomoronic fans, the ultimate wits -- dim or half -- will ever be Moe, Larry and Curly.

The new "Three Stooges" movie, which opened Friday on lucky April 13, is co-directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly's contemporary take on the time-tested boneheads' iconic-ironic formula, re-creating those puerile personas in a (slightly) modernized situation with a fresh set of latter-day Stooges who look and sound amazingly like the originals.

Seems that baby Moe, Larry and Curly have been left on the doorstep of a convent orphanage -- "newborn angels from heaven," say the nuns, until one of them, Sister Mary-Mengele (Larry David), gets eye-poked by Moe and goes sailing head over habit. The boys grow up nyuk-nyuk-nyuking and woo-woo-wooing to immaturity, becoming the home's inept maintenance men and meeting femme fatale-tamale Lydia ("Modern Family's" Sofia Vergara) who gets them involved in a murder plot and -- oh, never mind ...

Have I told you lately about the Apotheosis of My Childhood? Thanks for asking. It was Jan. 3, 1959 -- the day the Three Stooges came to the late great Holiday House in Monroeville for their first live appearance since vaudeville days. For a 10-year-old in the Eisenhower administration, this was equivalent to the resurfacing of Amelia Earhart and an audience with the pope, combined. My cousins and I, in our best clip-on ties, strained to get autographs from three snarly old men, barely tolerating us and our flashbulb- popping Kodaks. In the spirit of the occasion, we'd drop the just- used hot ones down each other's backs -- for guaranteed howls. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk...

No wonder the Stooges' influence generated such universal parental disapproval. We were always hearing horror stories about kids who poked each other's eyes out, but we concluded that anyone dumb enough to actually "pick two" -- without putting his hand on his nose sideways -- deserved to be blinded.

No less a figure than Moe himself addressed that contentious subject, when asked by a Post-Gazette reporter at Kennywood. "The eye thing is out [of the act] now," he growled, since meddlesome groups like the Pittsburgh Jaycettes were petitioning to ban the Stooges from TV. Moe had no doubt who was to blame: "Women!" he fumed, unrepentant. "Why don't they stay home and criticize their children?"

Stooge History 101: Ted Healy discovered the Howard brothers (Moses and Samuel Horwitz, aka Moe and Shemp) during a 1922 show in Brooklyn; "Porcupine" Larry Fine (1902-1975) joined the act in 1925. …

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