A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that extreme slapstick violence is non-stop from beginning to end in each of these shorts including scores of head poundings with wrenches, hammers, boards, lamps, shoes. There are explosions, gunshots, collapsing buildings, as well as lots of pies-in-the face. Silly plots serve to keep the Stooges in harm's way at all times -- and they wreak havoc on everyone who has the bad luck to meet up with them. Made during the mid-1940s, many of the films include ugly stereotypes of American WWII enemies (the Japanese are called "Japs" throughout), and African-Americans are all depicted as lowly caricatures. Women and girls are either ogled or portrayed as repressed and bossy. Still, the Three Stooges have a long history of appealing to that juvenile part of human nature that keeps both kids and adults laughing at the hapless calamity of others.
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What's the story?
There were nearly 200 Three Stooges shorts produced. THE THREE STOOGES COLLECTION: VOL. 4 contains two discs, with 21 short films in chronological order. It includes some favorites such as "Micro Phonies," "Three Little Pirates," "Dizzy Pilots," and "Crash Goes the Hash." Each one is about 15 minutes long and stars the original Moe, Larry, and Curly at the height of their pratfall prowess. Plots involve the human punching bags accidentally uncovering an evil plot or hulking monster or a den of thieves or scary legends (i.e. The Wolfman, ghosts, bodies). Because these shorts were made during World War II, many of the stories and villains involve U.S. enemies in that war: Germans and Japanese, spies and saboteurs. The Stooges cover the gamut of jobs: they're sailors, house painters, policemen, cowboys, repairmen, salesmen, inventors, and more. Wrong identity plays a part in a number of the stories; they're mistaken for opera singers, doctors, even journalists! Despite their outrageous haplessness, the dimwitted heroes always win the day.
Is it any good?
This collection includes some of the most beloved Stooges shorts as well as some forgettable ones -- and even a few that are simply not funny. More than half-a-century old, there is some blatant stereotyping and offensive language. The set leads off with one of the most "violent" of all of the shorts, "They Stooge to Conga," in which Moe gets spiked in the head, ear and eye while trying to help Curly.
Generations of devoted fans have kept the Three Stooges in the public eye, even made them a cultural phenomenon. For those who love silliness to the extreme and abounding farcical violence, this is a classic set.
Talk to your kids about ...
Talk about how stereotypes based on race and nationality run through many of the films. How has the media changed since these films were made in the 1940s?
Why are these stereotypes not acceptable today? Do you think it affects our view of other cultures and races to see them as portrayed as cartoon characters, even if it's "just for laughs"?
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