Movie review: “The Three Stooges”


(There are spoilers in this review.  Read on at your peril.  Oh, what am I saying?  It’s a comedy.  Read on anyway.)



I have been a lover of the Three Stooges for fifty years.  I remember a children’s-show host on 1960s Portland TV – Mister Duffy, a portly ringmaster with a black top hat – explaining to us kids that the Stooges did not use real hammers and shovels and baseball bats to clonk one another on the head, and that little children should not hit each other with shovels and baseball bats in any case.



Well, hmph. That took all the fun out of it.



You either love the Stooges or you don’t.  There’s a common belief that the Stooges are a masculine taste, and that women don’t like them.  Honeychild, I am the least masculine thing in the world.  Any day now, I expect daisies to sprout from my ears.  And I love the Stooges.



Anyway, Partner and I saw the preview for the new Stooges movie a few weeks ago – lots of crashing and whacking and banging – and both of us confided to the other that we needed to see this movie.



Well, we saw it yesterday, and we both liked it.  The physical humor was raw and inspiring and beautifully choreographed: people thrown under street sweepers, lots of pirouetting lunges and slaps and kicks, lunatic dance steps, people getting hit on the head with church bells.  The Farrelly brothers – local Rhode Island boys who have made lots of stupidly wonderful movies like “Dumb and Dumber” and “There’s Something About Mary” – have put their personal stamp on the movie: you hear a fragment of Jonathan Richman’s song “Road Runner” near the opening of the movie (Jonathan, in case you don’t know, was the crazy guitar-playing narrator in “There’s Something About Mary”); at another point you hear part of an advertisement for Al Cerrone Chevrolet Buick (Al Cerrone is a brother to Mike Cerrone, who co-wrote the movie). 



And so on.



Casting: four stars.  Chris Diamantopoulos, of whom I had never heard, is the perfect Moe, intense and jut-jawed (and, as Partner pointed out, much better-looking than the original Moe Howard).  Sean Hayes (Jack from “Will and Grace”) is a manic Larry.  And one of my personal favorites, the gigantic Will Sasso (whom I remember very fondly from “MADtv,” where he did wonderful sendups of people like Kenny Rogers and Randy Newman), is a big bouncy fighting yelping Curly.  We get Larry David in drag as Sister Mary Mengele, and Sofia Vergara as an evil housewife, and Craig Bierko doing his usual seductive-weasel routine, and Stephen Collins (the poor man’s Robert Wagner) as a scheming lawyer, and Isaiah Mustafa (remember those Old Spice ads with the unbelievably handsome black man?) as a grinning reality-TV executive.



Now the bad stuff.



The movie slows to a crawl repeatedly.  It insists on character development!  It gets sentimental!  (I thought it was a good sign early in the movie when the orphanage kids began to sing, and Larry David / Sister Mary Mengele ordered them to shut up.  There’ll be none of that, I thought.  Sadly, there was far too much soupy sentiment in the movie.  We needed a lot more of the acidulous Sister Mary, and of characters like the bulldog nurse who chases the boys through a hospital.  The Stooges were always a lot more fun when they were either hitting someone or running away from someone. Especially in disguise, and most especially in drag.)



So: overall, the movie is a little good, a little bad.



But listen: if you have ever longed to see the “Jersey Shore” crew get the crap beaten out of them, this is the movie for you.



And who hasn’t longed for that? 



Jersey shore, season five


 The new season of “Jersey Shore” blew in unexpectedly; I thought our DVR was mistakenly recording old episodes from previous seasons.  Then we saw Pauly D. on a talk show, and saw clips from the new season, and thought: oh my god, we’re missing it!



As with the (rancid) cream of the reality shows – “Bridezillas,” “A List: New York,” “A List: Dallas” – you can’t look away.  It’s like that scene in “A Christmas Story” when Ralphie’s little brother plunges his face onto his plate and begins to eat like a pig at his mother’s urging, and both of them are screaming with laughter.  It’s disgusting, but you have to watch it.



We are (as of this writing) only two episodes into the new season.  I know from Internet scuttlebutt that this season did not go well; apparently there was serious dissention among the Seaside Heights Eight, and word went out that a few guidos / guidettes went home for good. 



They are, I think, mostly sick of each other.  The show took them directly from Florence (where, according to Vinnie, they did “everything you can possibly do,” ha ha, yes they certainly took advantage of the opportunity to broaden their minds) to Seaside Heights, giving them no time to spend with their families and friends in between.  This (I’m sure) was meant to ramp up the tension level on the show, and it worked like a charm.  Mike and Nicole (aka Sitch and Snooki) are at one another’s throats.  Vinnie, who used to seem a tiny bit smarter and calmer than the others, is now completely worn out, and contemplating leaving the house.  Jenny (aka JWOWW) is an exhausted den mother, trying to sort out arguments and calm everyone down while serving snacks.  (Who knew she’d be the mature one?)  The others – Ron, Sammi, Deena, Paulie – are watching quietly from the sidelines, waiting for the whole thing to implode, so they can go off and do their spinoff MTV shows and QVC jewelry hours and Xenadrine ads.



But still we cannot look away.  We look, and we see:


        Snooki drinking the juice out of the pickle jar;

        Snooki wearing panties with JIONNI (her boyfriend’s name) written on the butt;

        Situation and his friend Unit (!) spraying one another with – what? – bronzer? cologne? – in a bizarre dance-like ritual;

        Paulie getting too much exposure at the tanning salon, and ending up looking like a burnt weenie (he puts Popsicles on his face to ease the pain);

        Paulie hooking up with a girl who steals his gold-and-diamond chain, then brings it back to the house, no harm done, tee hee.  (I wonder if the show’s producers prompted her to do it?  They had the felony on tape, after all.)



Who knows what lies ahead? 



Thank goodness the world ends in December 2012.  There can’t be more than two or three more Jersey Shore series before then!



Jersey Shore: Stupidita all’italiana


Do we need to speak about this new season of Jersey Shore?



Probably not. But I can’t help it.



Stupid is as stupid does, we say. Some of the cast members are turning out not to be stupid. Who knew someone named JWOWW could be (relatively) mature and intelligent? And Vinnie – while no rocket scientist – is not a dummy. And Paulie is funny, and a natural entertainer.



But now let us speak of the others.



Deena: the less said the better. She thinks she’s fun. No, really, she does! But she is not. But most assuredly she is not. She is a dull-witted hanger-on who falls down a lot. Basta.



(Speaking of “basta”: did I mention that they’re in Italy? Doesn’t matter. They could be in Teaneck or Schenectady or Hoboken. They go out to eat a lot, and you catch glimpses of the Arno and Santa Maria Novella and the Campanile di Giotto in the background, and Snooki has discovered a taste for “Italy wine.” So much for the show being set in Italy. Let’s get on with this.)



Ron: okay, my opinion of Ronnie is skewed, because I think he’s cute. But he’s violent, and we’ve seen him beat the shit out of a couple of guys, and we’ve seen him push and hit women more than once. ‘Roid rage? Just natural meanness? Doesn’t really matter. We will be hearing more from him, probably in those TMZ moments when they update us on celebrity meltdowns.



Mike “The Situation”: his psychology is so tangled it almost defies description. He can cook, for one thing, and he’s not as absymally stupid as some of the others. But he’s desperate for attention, and he loves meddling for its own sake. He discovered the TV camera before most of the rest of them did, and it took him a couple of seasons to learn not to look directly into it before doing something especially heinous. He likes creating drama and watching people fight. It was really viscerally pleasing (for me, at least) to see the murderously serious Ronnie try to beat the life out of him not long ago.



And last, the eternal Snooki (or better, as an Italian florist called her, “Nookie”). She looks like a dirty ungroomed obese hairy parakeet. She burps. She is an ungodly shade of orange/brown. She, like Deena, thinks she’s attractive. She keeps pointing to Florentine churches and wanting to know if they’re the Vatican. There’s a grotesque close-up of her kneading pizza dough (yes, they keep pretending that they’re working real jobs) with nasty claw-like blue-sparkly fingernails.



Why oh why do I keep watching this show?



Because it is just about the funniest and saddest thing on TV, with the possible exception of “The A-List: New York.”



Next week (I hope): Snooki loses one of her fingernails in the pizza dough!



Jersey shore, season three

Partner and I agree that the new season of “Jersey Shore” is, well, intense. The last two episodes have been the most-watched shows in MTV’s history, bitches!



What is is about this show that’s so fascinating? The cast has no talent. But none. Okay, maybe Paulie has some self-awareness; he’s a DJ, and he’s often witty. But I am convinced that you could take MRIs of all of the rest of them, and the only things you’d find inside their heads would be fingernail clippings and dryer lint.



When you throw a random group of people together, you get an impromptu dysfunctional family. I’ve seen it happen in college, and in the Peace Corps. Reality television relies on this: look at “Big Brother” and “The Real World” and the rest of them. But this group, oh Jesus oh Jesus, it just keep throbbing with life. Snooki’s in jail! Deena brings home a guy who looks just like Ronnie! Jwoww’s fighting with her old boyfriend Tom while (at the same time) canoodling with her old/new boyfriend Roger! The Situation’s brooding! Snooki’s sitting in the mini-fridge because her ass itches!


Snooki is especially mysterious to me. I have some questions. Ponder them.



  • Snooki has her eye on a guy named Nick, whom she describes as “Irish.” Nick has a tramp stamp that says “LA FAMIGLIA.” Why would an Irish guy have an Italian-language tattoo? Is it possible that Snooki doesn’t know what the word “Irish” means?

  • Why would any man find Snooki attractive? Nick’s cute. I mean CUTE. He looks like Brett Favre, if he were twenty years younger and had a significantly better body. And he’s dating Snooki? Is he high?

  • One of the most gripping things I’ve ever seen on TV: Snooki eating a raw potato. A friend of mine used to talk about his Uncle Spud, who “ate green potatoes when he was a boy, and was never quite right after that.” Well, Snooki’s not quite right. Are the raw potatoes to blame?

  • Vinnie interviews Snooki’s hair at one point. Snooki sits still and puts up with it. Paulie does the voice of Snooki’s hair.  Again, Snooki just sits and lets it happen. Does Snooki understand that they’re making fun of her?



This show exhausts me.  I need refreshment.  Quick, bring me a shot of Patron and a fried pickle.  With a raw potato on the side.




Sunday blog: Sn00kiana


Nicole Polizzi, aka Snooki / Snickers, is a real person on the television program “Jersey Shore.” She is, however, more of a cartoon character than a real human being. She is a combination of Kay Thompson’s Eloise, Jean Hagen’s Lina Lamont, and a a not-very-smart cat or dog.



She says the damndest things.



Such as:



  • My most prized possession would probably be my bronzer and eyeliner. Bronzer because, just in case you go out and then you look in the mirror and you look pale? Just apply the bronzer. You don’t have enough eyeliner on? Put the eyeliner on.”

  • Um, I don’t read books. I tried to read ‘Twilight,’ but it got boring the second page. There’s no pictures, so, I’m not readin’ it.”

  • I’m fat. I’m about to eat a sausage right now. Fuck you all! Ha ha!”

  • Pickles is my thing.”

  • I am a princess at home, like, I am the fucking princess of fucking Poughkeepsie. Here, I am nobody. I’m, like, emotionally exhausted.”

  • [to Jwoww:] “If you leave, I’m going to stuff your nose with tampons.”

  • I feel like a Pilgrim from the friggin’ ’20s washing this shit in the sink.”

  • I don’t tan anymore because Obama put a ten percent tax on tanning. I feel like he did that specifically for us. McCain would never do that, because he’s pale and probably wants to get tan. Obama doesn’t have that problem. Obviously.”

  • [Preparing for a date:] “And if it’s a smush, you gotta put lotion on your butt.”

  • He’s a really good guy. That’s the kind of guy I need in my life. I think his name is Ron.”

  • If you want me to cook and poison everybody and we’re gonna be dead in two minutes? Whatever.”

  • [Vinny’s] like my big brother, I love him. But usually you don’t have sex with your big brother.”

  • The glasses are all bling bling, but when you put them on you can’t really see. So I don’t think you can drive with them, because you can’t really see.”

  • [Snooki’s list of criteria for a man:] “Tanned; guido; juicehead gorilla; big sense of humor; likes to party; fist-pumps; frolics; isn’t a jerkoff; a dork at heart; pays for meals; smells good; nympho; likes pickles; takes interest in my hobbies; very protective; not so serious; likes to sleep in.”

  • White’s in in Miami. What if you get your period? It’s ruined.”

  • My first thought was: I don’t wanna clean this up. My second thought was: I just fucked up dinner. My third thought was: What the fuck am I gonna eat?”

  • Sympathetic. Word of the day. That’s a big word!”

And finally:

  • A crow comes, and it starts quacking at us. Or, not quacking. What’s a crow do? … Usually when a crow comes and it does that, that means you’re gonna die; it’s warning you of your death. So right now we’re thinking: ‘Who’s gonna die right now?’ Not gonna be me!”




Sn00ki is not your tweep




On the Internet we learn by doing. I have detailed my experiences with Facebook elsewhere; in brief, Facebook and I maintain a casual friendship with occasional benefits, kind of like Jerry and Elaine on “Seinfeld.”


Twitter, however, is different. I have to say that I don’t think I quite understand what Twitter is good for.


Or maybe I do understand, and I just don’t like it very much.


I got into Twitter around the same time I got into Facebook, and in much the same way. When I signed up for my account, the little blue birdie told me cheerily to “find some people I know!”, or words to that effect. Stupid me: I thought the birdie meant “friends.” None of my friends was on Twitter at that point (I have the social life of Simeon Stylites). I badgered Partner into signing up for a Twitter account too, and he did, and we friended each other a la Facebook, and –


Nothing happened.


Do you see my mistake? I was treating Twitter like Facebook. I assumed that it was meant as a kind of friends’ network, chatting each other up and generally having a giggly ol’ good time.


Anyway, the Twitter account languished for a while. Then I noticed that a lot of celebrities were mentioning Twitter, and so I tried following them, and – hmm.


I suddenly realized one of the main points of difference between Twitter and Facebook: Twitter is not necessarily reciprocal. People can follow you, but you don’t need to follow them.


I guess that’s why they don’t call them “friends” on Twitter.


Anyway, I signed up for the usual celebrity feeds. (By “celebrity,” I mean anyone well-known. I follow two astronauts, a bunch of comedians, a couple of journalists, and the cast of the Jersey Shore. So go ahead, throw stones at me.) Some are smarter and funnier than others; some have something to say, and others have absolutely nothing to say. Some use Twitter as a kind of joke-a-day vehicle; others use it to pontificate; others use it – well, here’s an exchange from last night’s feed:


Sn00ki: @VINNYGUADAGNINO I will beat you!!! #hater


VINNYGUADAGNINO: Lololol @sn00ki hahahhaa lolololol


ItsTheSituation: On way to Vegas! 4 an obligated appearance ! Sitch GTL


Sn00ki: That sounds filthy. Watch your mouth Vincent RT @VINNYGUADAGNINO Havin a twitter off day…Don’t wanna oversaturate the twarket


JENNIWOWW: Please understand that my schedule is crazy busy & I don’t always have time or even see what everyone writes to me….


And my favorite from last night:


VINNYGUADAGNINO: Girls that pop pills, sniff coke etc. ← so unflattering.


Isn’t that fun?


This is the 2010 equivalent of Photoplay or Modern Screen, I guess; we, the adoring public, get to watch celebrities goofing around. We get to read their comments, and we can pretend we actually know them. Some are actually writing their own tweets; others aren’t (read Frank Rich on this topic). No big surprise.


Both the tweeter and the follower can be misled into a false feeling of community. Back in the salad days of Twitter, David Pogue decided to demonstrate Twitter’s outreach during a public forum, and sent out a (fake) request for information to his Twitter followers. He got lots of responses; he then laughingly told them (collectively) that they’d been part of a demonstration, but thanks anyway; and he was startled to find that people were actually angry at having been used.


Imagine that!


Pogue, who is usually smarter than this, talks in his columns and blogs about using Twitter as a “research assistant.” I don’t think he realized that, by saying this, he reduced his Twitter followers to a big gummy mass of humanity, from which he can scoop ideas and opinions anytime he likes.


Malcolm Gladwell just had a sobering piece about this in the New Yorker. Among other observations, he points out that the well-known role of Twitter in the Iranian uprising of 2009 was probably grossly overstated, especially since most of the tweets were in English, not Farsi. If it were really being used as a tool by people in the uprising, don’t you think they’d use the local language?


Ho hum. Anyway, all in all, Twitter’s not really for me. It’s good for passing an idle moment, but it’s not filling a need in my life. I have exactly three followers at the moment, one of whom is a stuffed animal, so I don’t think I’m depriving anyone of anything if I don’t tweet frequently.


Besides, I have a hard time compressing my thoughts into 140 characters. If I were able to do that, I’d probably be working at a greeting-card company right now. Or a bumper-sticker factory. Or a fortune cookie bakery.


Actually, that’s a good idea. Maybe I’ll start transcribing all of my recent fortune cookies into Twitter, and maybe it’ll make me famous, and then I will have thousands of followers.


And you can follow me too. It’ll be a gas.


Just don’t expect me to follow you. Okay?






Jersey Shore: a guide for the perplexed


When I watch Joisy Shoah, I’m torn. Am I standing in front of the monkey cage at the zoo, watching the chimps jump up and down? Or am I seeing high drama?


Okay. Maybe both.


Analysis follows:


Ronnie and Sammi. I swear to God, it’s like watching George and Maggie Antrobus in “The Skin of Our Teeth.” First season: Ron & Sam get into a relationship and, as a result, aren’t much fun on the show (the ‘fun’ people on the show go to clubs and get drunk and bring home sex partners.) Sammi is very controlling, Ronnie is alternately contrite and angry. Dull, dull, dull. Second season: they reunite, after an angry breakup. This time, Ronnie is out with lots of girls, but he comes home to Sammie and has sex with her and assures her that she’s his only love. Then he goes out and cheats some more. She stays home and weeps into her pillow. Confessions, tears, reconciliations. More cheating. Repeat.


Season One Ronnie was cute and dumb and easily led. Season Two Ronnie seems determined to make poor Sammi dance to his tune, the way he danced to hers. He’s a mean little man with a boyish little face, and a very facile liar. I’m thinking Chris Meloni in “Oz.”


Sammi is a rough sketch of every woman in history who’s put up with her spouse’s misbehavior. She’s Tammie Wynette, she’s Carmela Soprano. Sammi whines, she lies in bed clutching her blanket, she twitches. But she sticks with Ronnie.


I get chills watching this.


Mike the Situation. What can I say? Archie Rice. Sammie Glick. Andy Griffith in “A Face in the Crowd.” That clownish kid in your fourth-grade class who actually succeeded in life, and who gives you the creeps every time you see him. Every zhlub in history who ever marketed himself. Every time Mike simpers into the camera, every time he says “We got us a situation here,” every time he lifts his shirt to show off his corrugated abs, he’s thinking: Money in the bank!


The crowning glory, of course, was watching him stumble and trip on “Dancing With The Stars.” Evidently fame and talent aren’t the same thing. But that’s okay: he’ll learn. Maybe.


Snooki. Oh my god her poor father.


Vinnie. Quiet and dull during Season One; livens up considerably during Season Two (probably because he realized he missed a golden opportunity to market himself. He wants to be an actor, by the way.)


Oh, and be sure to read that article. “I’m just Vinnie.” Now, I can read that two ways:

  • #1: I’m just Vinnie Guadagnino, good son / mamma’s boy from Staten Island, went to SUNY New Paltz, studied law, actually worked as a political intern for a while, smarter than most of the dullards around him. A little dull for “Jersey Shore,” but is that a bad thing?


  • #2: I’m just “Vinnie (no last name),” a character on “Jersey Shore,” the “smart guy” who’s also a “stud” and “attractive” and “sensitive.” And who fancies himself an actor.

I’m leaning toward #2.


Paulie D. He’s a fellow Vo Dilundah, I can’t say anything. But he’s a DJ, he’s been in front of a crowd before. He understands (as Mike the Situation does not) that it’s best not to look straight into the camera. Of all of the people on this show, he seems to get the joke on a deeper level. He’s also naturally witty. (I treasure the Season Two moment when, after a tense day, they all sit down to dinner. A moment of silence. Then Paulie says: “So, Nicole. How was school today?”)

JWOWW. Tough broad. Said to be modeling for Playboy soon. She’s made her choice: she’s decided to be famous for being famous. Look for her at state fairs and on game shows within ten years.

Angelina. My star, my life. She’s an instigator, a force of nature. She had the nerve to accept a Fossil watch from her new boyfriend, the little trollop. Everyone hates her. I love her.

Angelina: marry me.

Oh, wait. Angelina, listen. I’m gay. And I bruise easily. So let’s wait a while on that last thing.



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