YMMV / The Three Stooges

YMMV tropes that apply to the originals:

  • Anvilicious: From I'll Never Heil Again "The characters in this picture are all fictitious. Anyone resembling them is better off dead." Subtle.
  • Archive Panic: 191 shorts in total: 97 with Curly (85 pre-stroke), 78 with Shemp (74 if we don't count the Fake Shemp shorts) and 16 with Besser. There's also the five shorts and film with Ted Healy, as well as various film cameos, TV appearances and post-shorts projects. That's a lot of eye pokes and slaps.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • In Ants in the Pantry, the short involved the Stooges trying to rid a house of pests (that they pre-infested to get business). Long story short, a mouse ends up crawling down the back of an unfortunate party guest, who promptly starts jumping and stomping in an attempt to get it out. The Stooges approach and, seeing a rhythm in the poor man's stomping, start clapping along and quickly start dancing, seemingly abandoning their search until the mouse reappears.
      • Tended to be a Running Gag, as anyone doing this could distract the boys. It could also be from singing.
    • A more straight example would be in the failed TV pilot Jerks of All Trades. As the stooges are "painting" the room, their client asks them if they could touch up a painting of her daughter on the wall. Moe walks up to it and winds up peeling the picture off to reveal a picture of the same woman, only with less clothing. The Stooges continue peeling pictures off the frame (as the woman gets gradually less clad each time they do) until it ends with a picture of a Nightmare Face glaring at them, and inexplicably a boxing glove breaks through the painting and socks Moe. After this happens, no attention is brought to the painting (or where the boxing glove came from for that matter) again. (And the client does not notice that the painting of her daughter has been replaced with that of a monster.)
  • Broken Base: The short Cuckoo in a Choo-Choo, hands down. This is the short in which Larry is playing a Marlon Brando-esque character who stole a passenger car off a moving train, just so his girlfriend's sister can get her rich drunken boyfriend Shemp to propose, because then they can get married. Unfortunately Shemp is in love with Carey the giant canary who exists only in his booze-sodden dreams, and who is played by some poor soul in an utterly hideous suit. And Moe is a railroad detective in love with Larry's girlfriend's sister (the one they want to get hitched to Shemp) who finds them and tries to get rid of Shemp so he can marry the sister. There is no middle ground on this one, every Stooges fan either thinks it's terrific or sees it as the worst thing they ever did.
    • Stooges fans are split over the merits, or lack thereof, of Joe Besser's tenure as a Stooge. Although a respected actor in his own right, Besser is felt by some fans to have been a poor fit for the group, especially given his character's reluctance to be the trio's Butt-Monkey like Curly and Shemp. As such he is often seen as the Cousin Oliver of the Stooges. Others, however, see him as a refreshing change from the usual Stooge type.
  • Ear Worm: Watch "Punch Drunk", and you will get "Pop Goes The Weasel" embedded into your head!
    • Three words: Swinging. The. Alphabet. "B-A-bay, B-E-bee, B-I-bicky-bi, B-O bo, bicky-bi bo, B-U bu, bicky bi bo bu..."
    • There's also the song Larry and Curly play in Idiot's Deluxe as The Original Two-Man Quartet (featuring Larry on clarinet and hi-hat and Curly on trombone, tin pan and bass drum), which is most unwelcome to Moe who is suffering from the after-effects of a nervous breakdown.
    • The song that Curly sings in "I Can Hardly Wait"
    "She was bread in old Kentucky, but she's only a crumb up heeeerree. She's knock-kneed, double-jointed, with a cauliflower ear."
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Three words. Nyuk nyuk nyuk.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Bedlam in Paradise, where Shemp has a nightmare that he dies and comes back as a ghost, was released just a few months before Shemp died in real life. Even more upsetting is that this was a re-release of their earlier film, Heavenly Daze with some new scenes added in; Daze starts out with Shemp already in Heaven, but Bedlam includes a scene that actually shows his character's death.
    • Remember the Stooges' blatant disregard of gun safety in the shorts? In reality, Curly Howard accidentally shot himself in the ankle at age 13 while toying with a rifle. The injury was never properly treated, and caused him pain for the rest of his life. In some shorts where his bare legs are shown, one calf is noticeably thinner than the other.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The Three Stooges are fairly popular in Spanish speaking countries, where they are called "Los Tres Chiflados". (In some Spanish dubs, Curly is oddly given a deep, guttural voice in contrast to his English falsetto!)
    • When it comes to the US, the Three Stooges are immensely huge in New England due to the fact that several New Englanders grew up with the Three Stooges playing every Sunday morning on Boston's TV-38 WSBK (currently a CBS-owned MyNetworkTV station; it have previously been UPN, then independent again). Billy West and the Farrelly Brothers are amongst those New Englanders who have grown up with the Stooges and were influenced heavily by their comedic stylings.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In "Oil's Well That Ends Well", Moe breaks the fourth wall and says to the audience, "I hate him!" referring to then-Stooge Joe Besser for laughs. Years later, during an interview, Moe revealed that he hated working with Joe, and wasn't the least bit charitable with his comments.
    • The short Heavenly Daze where Shemp dies and goes to heaven, particularly the parts where we see Moe and Larry mourn for him, is harsher in hindsight since Shemp would die for real in only a few short years.
    • The angry husband/drill sergeant from Boobs in Arms frequently laments his terrible luck with a frustrated "Everything happens to me!" His actor, Richard Fiske, was later drafted into service and sadly killed in action during World War II.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: When Curly was forced to retire, producer-director Jules White attempted to recruit Joe De Rita to take his place. Joe refused, however, because he believed that being associated with a low-class act like the Stooges would kill his career. Yes, this is the same man who would later happily accept a chance to become "Curly Joe".
    • In the short "Men in Black", a deranged hospital patient (played by Billy Gilbert) claims to see "great big giant green CANARIES!" . About two decades later, "Cuckoo on a Choo-Choo" is released and guess what a hallucinating Shemp is in love with?
    • The short "What's the Matador?" has the trio put on a comedy bullfight down in Mexico. The crowd goes wild for them, which is apropos given the Stooges' popularity among Spanish-speaking audiences (see Germans Love David Hasselhoff above).
  • Ho Yay: In The Brideless Groom, where Moe and Larry are trying to find Shemp a wife so he can get an inheritance, Moe gets so happy after it seems like they've succeeded that he kisses Larry. A random person walking down the hall as it happens gives them a very disturbed look, and Moe promptly slaps Larry. This was Getting Crap Past the Radar in those days.
    • A Snitch in Time gives us this gem:
    Larry: "I finished the drawer!"
    Moe: "Whattaya want me to do, kiss you?"
    Larry: "Well..."
    [Moe slaps Larry]
    • In Dizzy Pilots, as their plane is about to crash, Moe and Curly end up hugging each other. Larry quips "Hey, you two guys goin' steady?", for which he gets slapped by Moe.
  • Hollywood Homely: The women who go after Curly and Shemp tend to be this.
    • Invoked when Shemp called himself "The Ugliest Man in Hollywood" as part of a publicity stunt.
  • Jerk Ass Woobie: Moe becomes this whenever he seems to get more abuse than the other stooges, but most of all in Dizzy Pilots where he gets knocked into a tub of rubber cement twice and becomes a human balloon.
    • Stoic Woobie: Quiet, dedicated Moe was this in real life; he lost both his brothers under the same boss within a few years of each other.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Several of the shorts entail the Stooges' contending with genuinely spooky dolls/statues/puppets/etc. In A Gem of a Jam, for example, Curly eye-pokes a truly creepy-looking clown bust, and Moe and Larry run away from a creepy Jack-in-the-box. Meanwhile, in If a Body Meets a Body, the Stooges are awoken in bed by a parrot which hides inside a human skull and flies around with its wings protruding through the ear holes, clutching a sheet with its claws and cackling maniacally. If you saw such a thing in a strange dark house in the middle of the night, you'd probably scream in horror too.
    • Don't forget a number of times when the boys ran into living skeletons, haunted suits of armor, and yet more flying skulls. Oh yes, and the Goon from Venus as well.
    • Once in a while the Stooges' Amusing Injuries could become a bit hard to watch, as in this scene from 1943's They Stooge to Conga, in which Curly steps on Moe's face wearing a spiked shoe, with the spikes going into Moe's eyes. This scene was eventually censored from TV broadcasts, only becoming available through the video and DVD releases.
  • Older Than They Think: In the 1935 short "Hoi Polloi", two wealthy businessmen argue over whether heredity or environment makes a gentleman, and they prove it by taking a bum off the street and making them sophisticated. Why does that sound so familiar?
  • Replacement Scrappy: Opinions on Shemp vary, but Joe Besser is universally reviled. Even Joe called his shorts "The Two Stooges featuring Joe Besser." It didn't help that he showed up at a bad time in the series, when the budgets were lowering and the drive of their earlier works was diminishing. "Curly" Joe De Rita, who played the third stooge during their comeback, mostly avoided the trope.
    • The stipulation that Moe couldn't hit Besser was what did it; people would've tolerated Joe only so long as his annoying behavior was punished accordingly, which it never was. Fans, then and now, are bewildered at Moe's lack of violence towards Besser.
    • It's quite telling that "Quiz Whizz", where Besser has a scene where he is force-fed cigars until he turns pale, is one of the better-received in his run.
  • Retroactive Recognition: The short "Three Little Pigskins" features a young Lucille Ball in one of her earliest Hollywood gigs.
  • Special Effects Failure: Most of the time, such as when a stooge falling from a large height is obviously a stunt dummy, this only serves to add to the hilarity.
    • Particularly obvious in a scene in which Larry and Moe use Curly as a battering ram to break out of prison. The dummy appears about 80 pounds lighter and has a full head of hair.
    • Some of the editing when they were using Stock Footage got pretty bad, to the point where Curly makes unintentional cameos in some of the remade Shemp shorts because of it.
  • Uncanny Valley: For those who grew up watching these shorts for years in black and white, actually viewing the colorized version looks eerily surreal.
  • Values Dissonance: In The Yoke's on Me, the plot centers on "Japs" (read: Japanese-Americans) hiding on the Stooges' farm after escaping from a nearby relocation center. The short ends with Curly killing them with a grenade. Quite possibly the most controversial Stooges short ever, this has only recently resurfaced on television after being out of circulation for decades.
    • First of all, those "Japs" were stated in the short to be POWs, not interned civilians. Secondly, Curly didn't kill them with an exploding ostrich egg. Moe tossed it, and they weren't killed, period (if people died from an explosion without being shown flying in heaven playing harps, you're not watching the Stooges). Still, the depiction of Asians in classic Stooges shorts can be grating by modern standards.
    • Interestingly enough, despite the (somewhat justified) anti-Japanese sentiment in their shorts, the Stooges seem to have not bothered using yellowface or faux-Asian gibberish. In one short, "No-Dough Boys", they were mistaken for Japanese soldiers because they were simply wearing the uniforms. A publicity still suggests they might be wearing eye makeup, but it's a lot less grotesque than most yellowface of the era (or, sadly, later).
  • Vindicated by Cable: The Stooges ended up becoming more popular than they ever had been before in the 1950s once their shorts were moved to television. Indeed, the very decision to award the Stooges a contract to do full-length films in the 1960s was a direct result of the popularity of their shorts on TV.
    • In 2011, the cable channel Antenna TV started airing nightly marathons of the shorts on the weekends.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: The bizarre 1952 short "Cuckoo on a Choo-Choo".
    • And "Dizzy Pilots", particularly the sequence where Moe becomes a human balloon.

YMMV tropes that apply to the 2012 film: