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April 13, 2012

Review: “The Three Stooges”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Roger @ 4:12 am

Publicity still for The Three Stooges movieBeing a hard-core fan of The Three Stooges and the director of a bicycle ride called the Tour de Stooges, I couldn’t help myself.

Yes, I went to the midnight showing of “The Three Stooges” movie, which made its nationwide debut today.

The Farrelly brothers worked for about a decade to get “The Three Stooges” to the big screen. At one time, they had considered actors such as Jim Carrey and Sean Penn, but they wound up with Chris Diamantopoulos (Moe), Sean Hayes (Larry) and Will Sasso (Curly).

They made the right choices. The modern trio did a fine job of resurrecting the slapstick comedy Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard mastered in the 1930s and 1940s. They revised some of the classic routines of the original Stooges, and in some cases, expanded upon them.

The basic plot goes like so: The young Stooges are dumped off at a Catholic orphanage, where they give the nuns — especially Sister Mary-Mengele (Larry David) a hard time. As they “grow up,” they work at the orphanage, only to learn that it will be closed unlees it comes up with $830,000 to pay the bills. From there, the Stooges get caught up in a murder plot and with the cast of “Jersey Shore.” It’s divided into three sections, each with a title, so it feels like you’re watching three episodes of the Stooges.

One truly funny scene was when Moe offers Snooki a gift — a poke in the eyes. “Jersey Shore” haters definitely will love that way Moe treats the reality show cast.

They also put nice twist on a scene inspired by the golfing scenes in “Three Little Beers.” In a hair-brained scheme to raise money for the orphanage, they start a fish farm — on a golf course. Much like the hundreds of golf balls and divots Moe left on the course, hundreds of fish are lying on the fairways.

And, yes, they attempt to ride a triplet bicycle!

The Farrellys, for the most part, avoid the gross-out humor they’re known for in previous movie. The closest thing thing to gross humor involves babies in a hospital nursery.

Now for the weaknesses: The Three Stooges weren’t always known for their plot development, but “The Three Stooges” may have suffered from too much plot development. Some scenes, particularly in the orphanage, seemed to drag.

I also disliked the background music in many of the scenes throughout the movie. The original Stooges shorts were so fast-paced that they generally didn’t need background music.

The original shorts used music as a part of the plot, such as “The Alphabet Song” in the movie “Violent Is the Word for Curly” or the march tune played in many of their shorts. There are a few songs like that in the movie, mostly performed with the help of Jennifer Hudson, who plays orphanage nun Sister Rosemary.

One group definitely doesn’t like the movie. The Catholic League isn’t fond of the “nun bikini” and rosary worn by Sister Bernice (Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton), and it doesn’t care for Larry David or his character’s name, shared by Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele.

“It is a cultural marker of sociological significance, and what it says about the way we’ve changed is not encouraging,” the Catholic League wrote in its article.

All in all, the Farrellys produced a good-hearted homage to The Three Stooges. Despite the flaws — I didn’t laugh out loud too often — it’s worth seeing, especially if you’re a Stooge fan! And, yes, women should watch it, too!

Real movie critics generally are giving the film moderately positive reviews. Here’s a sampling:

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April 5, 2012

The new Three Stooges go biking!

Filed under: bicycling — Tags: , , — Roger @ 12:17 pm

Publicity still for The Three Stooges movie
I couldn’t help but post this publicity still from “The Three Stooges” movie featuring Curly, Larry and Moe on a triplet bicycle!

Being the knuckleheads that they are, they aren’t wearing helmets. That’s too bad because I’m sure something bad is going to happen to them! At least they’re riding on the right side of the road!

It’s good to see the 2012 Stooges carrying on the cycling tradition the original Moe, Larry and Curly established in the 1930s and 1940s in the movies “Men in Black,” “Whoops, I’m an Indian,” “Three Sappy People” and “Three Troubledoers.” Curly also rode an Ingo-bike in the movie “Yes, We Have no Bonanza.”

Not surprisingly, those films were the inspiration for the Tour de Stooges. I invite you to ride your triplet, tandem — or your bicycle built for one — at this year’s event on Saturday, May 5, in Highland, Ill.

In the meantime, I invite you to predict what the Stooges are about to run into in the comments below.

 

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December 18, 2011

A look at “The Three Stooges”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Roger @ 11:55 am


When I first learned about the Farrelly Brothers’ efforts to make a Three Stooges movie, I was highly skeptical.

After seeing the trailer, I’m less skeptical. I know that sometimes filmmakers often put the best parts of the movie in the trailer to hide the fact the rest of the film is horrible, but I think “The Three Stooges” shows some promise.

The movie is slated to come out April 13, just weeks before the 15th annual Tour de Stooges on May 5 in Highland, Ill. If the movie is a success, it will raise awareness of the Stooges, and I hope that translates into more interest in the ride.

Back to the movie. “The Three Stooges” stars Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe, Sean Hayes as Larry and Will Sasso as Curly. The Farrellys had been trying to get the film made for more than a decade. At one point, they were in negotiations with Sean Penn to play Larry, Jim Carrey to play Curly and Benicio del Toro to play Moe. Those fell through. But judging from the trailer, Diamantopoulos, Hayes and Sasso appear up to the challenge of playing Howard, Fine and Howard.

The Farrellys also managed to get a promising supporting cast, including Jane Lynch, Larry David, Jennifer Hudson, Sofia Vergara and Snooki. As any fan of the Stooges knows, the supporting actors are critical to Stooge humor. People like Vernon Dent, Bud Jamison, Stanley Blystone, Emil Sitka and the lovely and talented Christine McIntyre added a lot to the original Stooges shorts.

OK, I know a lot of people aren’t fond of the fact Snooki is in the new movie, but Snooki is part of the funniest bit in the trailer. The Farrellys found a new twist to an old slapstick routine, and Moe has the honor of doing something to Snooki that most Americans would love to do to her!

I only have the trailer to make this assessment, but it’s clear Bobby and Peter Farrelly have tried to pay homage to the original Stooges. For example, they used parts of Curly’s wrestling scene in “Grips, Grunts and Groans” in a a scene included in the trailer.

The Internet Movie Database says the plot – and longtime fans of the Stooges know plot development wasn’t one of their strong suits —  as: “While trying to save their childhood orphanage, Moe, Larry, and Curly inadvertently stumble into a murder plot and wind up starring in a reality TV show.”

After seeing the trailer, I am more optimistic about “The Three Stooges” than I was when I first heard about the effort. I hope people will be saying this after seeing the movie: “It’s tremendous!” It’s colossal!” It’s putrid!”

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January 31, 2011

Curly rides an Ingo-bike!

Filed under: bicycling — Tags: , — Roger @ 1:26 am

I was too busy pushing fliers for the Tour de Stooges and the Belleville Area Bicycling and Eating Society or buying bicycle accessories yesterday at the Midwest Bicycle Expo and Swap Meet to see a classic Ingo-bike on display.

Fortunately for us, longtime reader Beth Harris did. That prompted her to ask me a question on Facebook.

Roger, I was looking at your blog and thought I remembered you posted a link to a short Stooges clip of Curly riding this type of bike. I couldn’t find it though. If you get a moment, would you direct me to that post? I saw that type of bike at the swap meet today.

I have written about the fact that The Three Stooges rode triplets — bicycles built for three — in the movies “Men in Black,” “Whoops, I’m an Indian,” “Three Sappy People” and “Three Troubledoers.” I had not written about the Ingo-bike — until now.

Curly indeed did ride an Ingo-bike in the 1939 film “Yes, We Have No Bonanza.” Here’s the proof:

So, what exactly is an Ingo-bike? Chicago brothers Phillip and Prescott Huyssen invented the bike in the 1930s, and it was manufactured from 1934 to 1937 at the Ingersoll-Rand Corp.’s plant in Rockford, Ill. Mary Miller wrote a fine history of the Ingo-bike for Wheelman Magazine in 1979, and here’s a brief excerpt from that account:

Phillip Huyssen got the idea for the Ingo while he and Prescott were returning home from the Chicago World’s Fair. They were riding in the upper deck of a double-decker bus in order to enjoy the view. While riding south on South Park Avenue, Phil began to watch a group of small boys riding home-made scooters. The scooters were made of 2×4′s and used a roller skate for wheels. one board was used to stand on, one to steer, and a cross-stick was used for handlebars. One boy was using a 1×6 instead of a 2×4 to stand on, and when he pushed off, the board would hit the sidewalk and act as a brake. As Phil watched the boys, he got an idea, and told Prescott that if the rear wheel hub was off-center, the scooter could be propelled by pulling on the steering bar, and using a little “body English.”

The Ingo-bike, originally called an “x-ercycle,”  is powered by the rider making a bouncing motion on the platform to turn the eccentric hub rear wheel and give forward motion.

Production of the Ingo-bike ended in 1937 when the Rockford plant became and Army shell factory and was permanently sidetracked by the start of World War II.

Here’s one more look at the Ingo-bike via the Modern Mechanix blog:

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June 1, 2010

“The Three Stooges Collection” is complete!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Roger @ 11:49 pm

I have achieved the Holy Grail of Stoogedom! I now am the proud owner of all 190 Columbia short-subject films the Stooges made between 1934 (“Women Haters”) and 1959 (“Sappy Bullfighters”)!

Vol. 8 of “The Three Stooges Collection” came out today, and I bought a copy tonight at the Fairview Heights Best Buy. Vol. 8 consists of the final 16 films featuring Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Shemp Howard and all 16 films featuring Moe, Larry and St. Louis native Joe Besser.

Given that I’m a co-founder of a bicycle ride called the Tour de Stooges, it should come as no surprise I have the entire short-feature collection!

Since 2007, Sony has released remastered versions of the Stooges films on DVD as “The Three Stooges Collection.” Vol. 1 begins withe first short features with Moe, Larry and Curly Howard and continues through the Stooge legacy in chronological order.

Sony did a masterful job remastering the films. The video and audio of the DVD collection are far superior to the films you’ve seen on TV over the decades. If the boys were still alive, they would be proud of Sony’s restoration of the 97 Curly shorts, the 77 Shemp shorts and the 16 Joe shorts.

I want to thank my younger sister, Karen Brooks, for giving me several volumes of the collection as Christmas or birthday presents. Given her dislike of the Stooges — a few too many Stooge-inspired pokes and punches from her brothers over the years — I was pleasantly surprised she made those contributions!

Here are a few of my favorite Stooge films:

  • “Three Little Pigskins” (1934): The Stooges play the Three Horsemen of Boulder Dam, and the film features a very young Lucille Ball.
  • “Half-Shot Shooters” (1936): The Stooges are reunited with their sadistic World War I sergeant.
  • “Whoops, I’m an Indian” (1936): The first of several film featuring the Stooges on a bicycle built for three, the inspiration for Tour de Stooges, plus a risque exchange between Curly, who is dressed as a squaw, and the trader Pierre (Bud Jamison).
  • “Violent is the Word for Curly” (1938): Features “Swingin’ the Alphabet”.
  • “You Nazty Spy!” (1940): This anti-Nazi film was released before Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator”.
  • “Hold That Lion” (1947): The only time brothers Moe, Shemp and Curly appeared on film together.
  • “Brideless Groom” (1947): Features the classic Emil Sitka line: “Join hands, you lovebirds.”
  • “Blunder Boys” (1955): A send-up of “Dragnet” Moe: “I’m Halliday.” Larry: “I’m Tarraday.” Shemp: “I’m St. Patrick’s Day.”

A lot of people hate the Joe Besser shorts. I don’t. I agree they aren’t as good as the best Curly or Shemp shorts, but they’re still amusing to me. A lot of problem with the Joe shorts was that Columbia really made those final short on the cheap.

I guess I should sign off tonight. I have a lot of Stooges to watch!

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March 25, 2009

Sean Penn as Larry? Hmmm!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Roger @ 9:53 pm

OK, I know this is supposed to be a bicycling blog. But since I lead a bicycle ride called the Tour de Stooges and — as of Monday — own all 90 Three Stooges shorts featuring Curly and 16 of 70 shorts with Shemp, I think it’s appropriate for me to comment about the upcoming Three Stooges film being made by the Farrelly brothers.

For about a decade, the Farrelly brothers have been trying to make a movie about the classic comedy trio, and they finally may be close to getting it done.

Variety reported that MGM and the Farrelly brothers have signed Sean Penn to play the role of Larry. Negotiations are under way with Jim Carrey to play Curly, with the actor already making plans to gain 40 pounds to approximate the physical dimensions of Jerome “Curly” Howard, and with Benicio Del Toro to play Moe.

If everything goes as planned, Variety reports production will begin in early fall for a release sometime in 2010.

The choice of Sean Penn to play Larry is an interesting one. “I resemble that,” is what Penn might say to comparisons between him and Larry Fine. I’m wondering how he’ll do, however, in a second-banana role, as Larry normally played to Moe, Curly and Shemp. Maybe the Farrellys will more fully develop Larry’s persona to fit Penn’s talents, but to me, Penn seems more of a Moe than a Curly as far as demeanor goes.

Some Stooge purists say it’s a horrible idea to try to make a new Three Stooges movie. The jury still is out for me.

I consider myself a student of the Stooges of sorts, and a close viewing of early Stooges films reveals they were somewhat risque for their day, particularly with double entendres. And yet, the Stooges also had a sense of innocence about them. The challenge for the Farrellys will be to get the proper balance of the risque, the innocent and — of course — the slapstick to make it work.

Below is a clip of the original Three Stooges. You be the judge!

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November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Roger @ 7:51 pm

One of my friends on my MySpace page — yes, I have one, but only primarily to bring people to this site (And, no, I am not too old to have a MySpace or Facebook page!) — encouraged people to stop dwelling on the bad things or things that need improvement and try just being thankful for what you do have and that you are alive.

In addition to being alive, I’m grateful for:

  • My family, whom I’ll see tomorrow for Thanksgiving and the joint celebrations of my nephew and oldest niece, both of whom turn 17 this year.
  • My friends. My odd hours keep me with connecting with you as well as I would like, but be sure you are frequently on my mind.
  • My ability to ride a bike.
  • My ability to play a leadership role in the Tour de Stooges and the Belleville Area Bicycling and Eating Society.
  • My job. Even though the newspaper industry is going through a difficult transition as more people rely on the Internet for news and advertising, it still gives me a lot of satisfaction to design a strong front page that draws people to read our paper.
  • My faith, which keeps me anchored when things get a bit crazy.

I’m sure I can think of more if I had time, but I need to get back to work. I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S.: For those of you who live in the St. Louis area, KPLR-TV, Channel 11, will be having a Three Stooges marathon from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. CST Thursday. Thanksgiving is a great day for TV viewing — if you’re a guy!

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June 29, 2007

StoogeMania

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Roger @ 2:01 pm

Just in case you didn’t get enough of the Three Stooges on May 5 at the Tour de Stooges, KPLR-TV, Channel 11, in St. Louis will be presenting 14 — count ‘em — 14 hours of Three Stooges films.

The Stooge marathon takes place from midnight to 2 p.m. CDT. You can see the commercial for StoogeMania here: http://cw11tv.trb.com/kplr-stooges,0,4946619.blurb

It’s good to see the Stooges back on Channel 11. That’s where I watched hours of Stooges films from the 1960s into the 1990s.

Speaking of the Stooges, we mailed the final batch of Tour de Stooges T-shirts this week. We apologize in the delay in getting the shirts out because of circumstances out our control, but we hope those of you in the St. Louis area will have your shirts in time for StoogeMania!

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May 11, 2007

‘A Girl Who Loves the Stooges’

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Roger @ 7:20 pm

A big tip of the hat to Belleville Area Bicycling and Eating Society mainstay Dave Weidler to introducing me to Terry Adams’ new song, “A Girl Who Loves the Stooges.”

I just can’t imagine how Dave thought of me when he heard that song this morning.

DJ Steve Pick played the song today on his Sound Salvation show on KDHX-FM 88.1, a community radio station in St. Louis. Here’s how Pick describes Adams’ album, “Rhythm Spell” and the song:

“This solo album from the NRBQ keyboardist is a hoot and a half. Here, he searches for that ideal woman, the one who loves The Three Stooges.”

You can listen to the streaming audio of the show here: http://www.kdhx.org/stream.php?id=37&show=5313

The song is about 42 minutes into show. Before you get to “A Girl Who Loves the Stooges,” you get to hear such tasty nuggets such as Kate Bush’s “Mrs. Bartolozi,” Pete Townshend’s “The Sea Refuses No River,” Wilco’s “Hate It Here,” and Willie Nelson and Ray Price’s “Lost Highway.”

All I can say is how can you not like a song that has lyrics such as “sabatoogie” and “say a few syllables.”

And, are there any girls who love the Stooges?

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November 25, 2006

Just catching up

Filed under: bicycling — Tags: , , — Roger @ 1:21 am

I know it’s been about a week and a half since my last post. I no longer have BubbaFest as an excuse for not posting, so here’s some random notes:

Happy Birthdays: My sister Teresa’s son, Julius, and my late brother Wes’ daughter, Ani, are celebrating their 16th birthdays this weekend. Julius turned 16 on Thanksgiving, while Ani turns 16 today.

After the Thanksgiving meal Thursday, my family got to watch “Tour de Donut: Gluttons for Punishment” for the first time. The film inspired Julius and Teresa to want to come down to Staunton, Ill., next July to give Tour de Donut a try. Julius is convinced he can eat 20 doughnuts, while I think my sister can do well in her age division next year. If Julius would ride and eat well enough to win, it would be the second Tour de Donut on “Old Blue,” the blue Cannondale I rode to victory in the 1995 Tour de Donut.

Ani, meanwhile, played for the Belleville West High School junior varsity girls tennis team. She most likely will be on the varsity roster next year, so I’m hoping to see her name in the Belleville News-Democrat often the next two seasons.

Great biking weather: It seems as if I brought some warm temperatures home with me from Florida. The high temperatures in the St. Louis area will be in the 60s this weekend, so I plan to get some miles in today. I should have been biking Friday, but I didn’t because I put Christmas lights up for my duplex and because I was fighting a bug that left me tired. I finally turned the corner Friday evening, so there’s no excuse for me not to ride today.

I want to get a short ride in Sunday morning before I go to the St. Louis Rams-San Francisco 49ers game with my nephew.

Marty Baird and Roger KramerStill thinking about Florida: I hope to post my official account of BubbaFest sometime next week in the main section of the Web site. In the meantime, I’m posting a photo taken by my good friend Doug Kaufman during the trip.

Our buddy, John Chester, needed to get a tire fixed during the course of the ride at the Big Pine Bicycle Center. It turns out that the owner, Marty Baird, may be a bigger Three Stooges nut than I am, if you can imagine that.

Not only does he own the jersey pictured here, he also has 146 Stooges episodes on tape and gobs of Stooges memorabilia. It was only appropriate Marty and I recreate a classic Stooges scene for the cameras. I told him about the Tour de Stooges, but he won’t be able to make it up north for the ride because it’s his busy season. I will try to make sure he gets a shirt for his collection.

Just starting out: Friend and former News-Democrat colleague Emily Priddy, the hippie of the Red Fork Hippie Chick blog, is writing about her efforts to become a cyclist after finishing two marathons and four half-marathons. She asked me not to laugh at her humble Thanksgiving Day ride.

I’m not laughing.

We’ve all been in Emily’s shoes sometime in our cycling lives, and I applaud her efforts to become a cyclist. In a matter of time, she should be able to cruise her bike up those hills she now walks.

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