The Three Stooges

film 12 of 26

Ants in the Pantry

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 29, 2015

Here’s another fun scenario, as the exterminators are forced to do a bit of infesting on the side. In this Ants in the Pantry is much like the best Hal Roach shorts, in which the scenario has enough dimension to be interesting, but isn’t so elaborate as to confuse or tire us, or to get in its own way. (Singlemindedly or agonizingly absurd scenarios, like the uber-resonant The Music Box [1933], are another issue.)

That ladder gag—in which Moe goes and grabs the ladder, and then the guy who was standing on it, above the frame line, tumbles to the ground—is fantastic. This is a very important thing, actually. Film comedy, and every other idiom in which you might choose to work, is much more than the blocking and timing and performance. Or maybe I mean to say that in addition to blocking and timing performance, you’ve got to block and time and frame the camera as well, not to mention the way that you cut the film. Have you considered that sufficiently, Neal Postman-type people?

I say again that it’s really quite lovely to see how free, how uninhibited these guys are. Voices, faces, bodies—they really let go, and it’s practically a lesson or a reproof to the rest of us. This is especially, wonderfully true in the way they work with all of the pests, and their lack of inhibition extends to the secondary players and extras. There are funny performances, but more than that, everyone seem to be having a lot of fun. Again, there’s more smacking here than you can think of shaking a stick at. Still, somehow, it all seems so loving. Great stuff with the piano, and especially the cats!