.....and we have finally come to the feature film era with third Stooge Curly Joe Derita. HAVE ROCKET -- WILL TRAVEL is certainly an interesting film, if not an all time classic. The boys do feel regenerated, and with their new success on television, I think they figured out what made them successful. No need to reinvent the wheel with a Besser, or even Shemp character. Curly is their commercial fortune, and since the real Curly has passed away, they get a guy to impersonate him, in this case, Joe Derita. Derita was a reliable comedian who can deliver a line, take a fall, do a double take, yet lacked any real character. Since the boys at this point were no longer trying to reinvent the wheel, he was a seasoned pro who filled a void, nothing more, nothing less. Any KISS fans here? Same situation with Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer being Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.
As a feature film, this is to be praised in the sense that the whole time, you are aware you are watching a Three Stooges film. You can say the same for all five Columbia features. I say this because a lot of Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello, and to a lesser extent, Laurel and Hardy features have the romantic couple and musical numbers that take away from the comedians. Yes, there is a romantic couple here, but their screen time is very minimal. It also must be said the dialogue during the twenty five minute mark is so unbelievably bad it is comically entertaining. Just watch it, I'm not one for quoting dialogue in reviews. Pure cheese, and the male is creepishly forceful.
The first half of the film is the boys rehashing old routines competently. Again, no reinventing the wheel, just comfort food. The scene where Moe thinks Larry is caught in the pipe under the sink from FALSE ALARMS is there. The classic pipe scene from A PLUMBING WE WILL GO is done by Curly Joe. Of course, not even a patch on the original. If one never saw Curly Howard do this routine, you'd think Curly Joe was OK, but knowing what Curly can do, there's no comparison. Still, OK on its own, I guess. The best stuff is the boys in the Rocket ship, which is actually original material. Their weight knocking the ship over and Larry's adventures with gravity are quite entertaining. I'll also state Moe call Derita a "baby hippopotamus" got a laugh out of me, one of my favorite Moe insults.
Once on Venus, we're at the weakest part of the film. The spider is entertainingly hokey, but once we get to the unicorn and the song, it's pure kiddie fare. Rehashing plumbing gags is understandable, but the talking horse stuff, though this time a unicorn, is not. Then once away from the unicorn, it turns into some strange sci-fi thing where the boys are shrunken and have body doubles made of them by some really cheesy boxed robot with arms. I do like the shrunken boys gesturing approving gestures when their larger doubled counterparts perform slapstick on each other, especially Moe's nod. That got me a laugh. Derita's gag with the mirror is funny and his best part of the film.
Once back on Earth, ten minutes of recycled HOI POLLOI party stuff, including the immortal spring on the ass dancing gag done by Derita. Again, competently done, but no reinventing the wheel here. The guests even fight each other, just like the original.
Overall, an interesting film, and cool to see the boys in a feature length film with some sci-fi stuff. Like I said years ago about WOMAN HATERS, this kind of film is not the reason why I'm a fan, but since I am a fan, I'm glad something like this exists. Definitely interesting, and I do remember the other Columbia features being a little better, but let's see what a fresh viewing will bring. With next week's film, I'm proud to say I spent less than $5.