Mark Reviews Movies

The Three Stooges


2 Stars (out of 4)

Directors: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly

Cast: Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Sofía Vergara, Craig Bierko, Kirby Heyborne, Jane Lynch, Larry David, Jennifer Hudson, Stephen Collins

MPAA Rating: PG (for slapstick action violence, some rude and suggestive humor including language)

Running Time: 1:32

Release Date: 4/13/12

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Review by Mark Dujsik | April 12, 2012

I never had an affinity for Moe, Larry, and Curly, so The Three Stooges is concurrently not my cup of tea and just for people like me. I'm not bringing in any past affection to my thoughts on co-writers/directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly's essentially faithful and completely sincere update of the Stooges' brand of broad and physically assaultive slapstick humor, laden with sound effects, puns, rhymes, and sing-songy introductions and farewells. Neither am I necessarily impressed by much of it.

Fans, possibly, will revolt at the notion of this homage, and in some aspects, they will be right to do so. The basic premise of the story, a murder-for-hire plot, is nasty. Some of the jokes are off-putting (a water gun fight using babies—use your imagination of where the "water" comes from) or cheap attempts to be contemporary (For adults who supposedly know nothing about the world outside of the orphanage where they were raised, these three sure do know enough about the world outside the orphanage where they were raised to make pop-culture references). Above all, it is the height of folly to expect three comedians to perfectly ape a trio of beloved characters and hope to recapture the exact spirit of the original performers.

As such, Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes, and Will Sasso—playing Moe, Larry, and Curly respectively—have a nearly impossible and unenviable task and, for the most part, they do an admirable job. Diamantopoulos gives off a hard-edged sensibility of leadership, Sasso is an unstoppable and energetic ball of facial tics and exaggerated physicality, and, well, Hayes' hair looks right (Speaking of jokes in poor taste, the suggestion that child Larry might be undergoing chemotherapy is a groaner).

The movie is divided into three episodes (a useless touch, seeing as the narrative is wholly linear). The first examines the Stooges' origins: dumped unceremoniously in a duffel bag on the steps of a Catholic orphanage where the nuns who run it love them until they get older (The nuns, amazingly, never age). As adults, they're still there and learn that the orphanage will be closing due to financial trouble. To save it, they decide to set off into the real world to raise over $800,000 to cover the debt. They have some plans, the funniest of which involves them farming. It would be an error to reveal what they farm (It's too absurd to give away), but I will say their product needs constant water.

By pure coincidence in their minds, Lydia (Sofía Vergara) offers them the exact amount they're looking for to complete one job. "Who do we have to kill," Curly jokingly asks; "My husband," she responds without blinking.

The details of Lydia's plan are insignificant (Essentially, she wants her husband's money and makes up a story that he has an incurable disease and wants to die on his own terms); it's only an excuse to throw the Stooges into one situation after another that they complicate by their very existence. A trip to the hospital to smother her "husband" (actually her lover) begets the squirting baby fight, which turns into a police chase, which becomes them attempting to revive an unconscious cop using what they think are defibrillator paddles. Since they're in the laundry room, the paddles they grab, obviously, are not used to restart a heart. We also learn Curly keeps sticks of dynamite stashed in his sport coat, just in case.

The scripted gags from the Farrellys and Mike Cerrone do have a momentum of expectancy, like when a loose sledgehammer head lands in a bucket of water or when Larry randomly fires an arrow into the air. As questionable as the main plot is, it does offer the chance to push the limits of how much damage the Stooges can accidentally cause to another human being without killing him, and then the arrow falls on cue (Two men calling themselves the Farrelly brothers make an appearance at the end as a belated disclaimer to explain how the tools are rubber and the actors never actually poke each other in the eyes; it was probably insisted upon by some executive for legal reasons, just in case any child might come away thinking a human head would break the blades of a chainsaw in operation).

Is the movie needed or even wise? No, but I'll admit that there are a few of solid laughs from some flimsy jokes in The Three Stooges. The movie is the embodiment of mediocre comedy, which might be exactly what the Stooges deserve or would ever want.

Copyright © 2012 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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