Stooges and Godzilla

I never liked the Three Stooges when I was growing up. I thought they were the dumbest thing on TV. But after having boys of my own, I love watching them now. Actually, I love watching my boys watching them. One day when they were about 4 and 3, I heard one of them calling from downstairs, “Mom, come on -- it’s a new episode!” They never knew that what they were watching was filmed back in the 1940’s and ‘50’s! But it was new to them. The Stooges would do, well, stoogey things, and my kids would just squeal with delight at their stupidity and physical comedy. The boys would get so excited, jumping up and down and flapping their arms while they tried to duplicate the actions of these three idiots on the screen. The kids would chase each other around, repeating lines and movements they saw on screen. (“Slowly I turned; inch by inch…”)

But the best movies to watch with little boys are the old Godzilla movies, dubbed into English from the original Japanese. Apparently Japanese uses fewer words to explain things than English, because the dubbing was always so awful! Words were spoken rapid-fire and clipped in order to keep pace with the action, and the people dubbing the words used a staccato, monotone delivery that was comical. Often we’d turn the sound off and just make up our own dialog to fit the action, sometimes with truly hilarious results. During one scene, a man dressed in futuristic clothing showed up on screen, obviously throwing his weight around and lording it over the others.  The costume designer for the movie must have had a field day in the notions department, because the actor had zippers all over his jacket, and it was obvious that the “helmet” he was wearing was a cheap plastic fish bowl duct-taped around his neck. We took that concept and ran with it in our made-up dialog:

Man with zippers: “Do as I say!”
Other guys: “No, we won’t!”
Man with zippers: “Yes, I said you must do as I say!”
Other guys: “And we said, NO!”
Man with zippers: “I am in charge.”
Other guys: “No, we can do whatever we want. You are not the boss of us.”
Man with zippers: “Can you not see all the zippers I have on my jacket? This proves
         that I am in charge. You must obey me!”

My boys would just howl with laughter at the ridiculous things they could make the actors say to each other. Eventually Godzilla would show up and shoot lasers out of his mouth, waving his arms and stomping his feet in outrage while getting caught up in electrical wires that shot sparks high into the air. Mothra would swoop in and engage in an epic battle-to-the-death while the Army guys drove wildly around in circles, shooting their tiny cannons and rifles at Godzilla in a feeble attempt to stop him from destroying life as we know it. There was usually a mad scientist-type guy who worked on experiments that would change simple lower forms of life into giant monsters (always with large tanks of water and colorful pyrotechnics), and a beautiful girl who kept the scientist from destroying the world. You know, reality TV. Then we’d make popcorn and hot chocolate, followed by a nap.

I truly miss those days.