‘Three Stooges’ says leave the classics alone
Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 15:04
First, the good news: this is a heartfelt homage to The Three Stooges, and its leading actors (Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes, and Will Sasso) do a remarkable job of channeling Moe, Larry and Curly, respectively.
Kids who have never seen the Stooges, and adults who haven’t revisited them lately may have a good time, but ultimately, the movie is an eye poke, and not in a good way. This movie may well satisfy moviegoers starved for slapstick and sight gags, which we don’t see very much anymore. Bobby and Peter Farrelly, who directed and wrote this feature, serve up a heavy dose of straight-up silliness.
But in the Age of Irony, the only way they can get away with that is through a re-creation, using the familiar characters of the Stooges and the brand of comedy they purveyed so successfully. As befits a movie featuring these three, the storyline is simplicity itself: the orphanage where our heroes have been raised is going to be shut down, unless someone can raise $830,000 in a hurry.
Moe, Larry and Curly have been sheltered from the outside world, and don’t have any skills except for causing mayhem, but they set out to find the necessary funds anyway.
None of this would be possible without the inspired and fully committed performances of the actors. They never break character or wink at the audience, which is the only way to pull off a stunt like this. Most of the supporting cast gets in the spirit of the piece, as well. But I was officially done with the movie once the Jersey Shore cast made an appearance. The gags and Stoogeian wordplay come off well most of the time; there’s no point in nitpicking the ones that don’t, or complaining about matters of taste, since the real Stooges comedies were often crass and crude.
So the big issue is why is this not a great movie? It was directed by The Farrelly Brothers! The same people that brought us classic movies like Dumb and Dumber, Me, Myself, and Irene, and There’s Something About Mary. Perhaps I’ve spent too many years absorbing the bona fide Stooges—and other slapstick comedies of the period—to accept a replica, however well-intended.
I’m happy to see somebody reviving this neglected brand of comedy, but I wish it didn’t involve outright imitation of such indelible performers as Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard. The real Stooges are alive and well, on film that is. Why not reissue some of their best comedies and put them back on the big screen instead of settling for this unworthy Xerox copy? I give the film one and a half eye pokes out of five.