by Mark Burger

(Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

This self-explanatory 20-DVD boxed set ($99.95 retail) certainly lives up to its name, offering all 190 of the Three Stooges’ comedy shorts, the feature films Rockin’ in the Rockies (1945) and Have Rocket, Will Travel (1959), and three full discs of bonus material. In short, a must for Three Stooges fans.

In the beginning, there were vaudeville veterans Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Moe’s brother Curly, who found screen stardom in a series of slap-happy slapstick comedy shorts from Columbia Pictures. The lovable trio was instantly popular with audiences, particularly children. (Hardly surprising, since that’s what they essentially played.)

An ailing Curly was replaced by brother Shemp Howard in 1946, and upon Shemp’s death in 1955, Joe Besser and then “Curly-Joe” DeRita stepped in. Most agree that the best Stooges shorts were the ones showcasing Moe, Larry and Curly, but their popularity sustained almost 50 years.

Some of the classic shorts include Men in Black (1934), the only one to receive an Oscar nomination; You Nazty Spy! (1940), a World War II spoof which landed them on a Nazi death list(!); and a personal favorite, the calamitous courtroom farce Disorder in the Court (1936).

Although dismissed by some as sophomoric and juvenile – they were hardly critics’ darlings – the Stooges were and are loved by millions. The Farrelly Brothers’ recent feature film is testament to their enduring popularity. They made people laugh, and that’s a great legacy.