The Three Stooges (2012)
The Three Stooges (2012)

Genre: Slapstick Running Time: 1 hr. 32 min.

Release Date: April 13th, 2012 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly Actors: Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos, Sofia Vergara, Jane Lynch, Larry David, Carly Craig, Kate Upton

 


 

C

hris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes, and Will Sasso do an outstanding job imitating the most famous grouping of The Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard, respectively). Their mannerisms, voices, and acting are sensationally accurate – even their physical features are surprisingly close. If this weren’t a movie, they’d certainly make a striking Vegas show. But turning this into a theatrical release begs many questions – namely, “Why?” Who exactly is this supposed to appeal to? Will the 18-25 year-old demographic dash to see a black-and-white act from the ‘30s and ‘40s revived in 2012? Will longtime fans of The Three Stooges embrace a one-note homage that spans the course of a feature-length film (if they wanted to revisit the characters doing the same shtick, they’d just watch the originals)? Who will pay to see this?

Moe, Larry, and Curly are menaces as young children, but equally inseparable. In Episode 1: “More Orphan Than Not,” they subject the nuns who raise them to all sorts of mischievous torment (most notably Sister Mary-Mengele, played by Larry David). Episode 2: “The Bananas Split” finds the pure-of-heart, dim-of-wit triumvirate all grown up and off into the real world where they desperately try to earn the $830,000 needed to save the orphanage from bankruptcy. In The Final Episode: “No Moe Mister Nice Guy,” the knuckle-headed ternion get to the bottom of a plot to mercy-kill Lydia’s (Sofia Vergara) husband Teddy (Kirby Heyborne), an old friend of the stooges.

An exemplary amount of research and rehearsing went into constructing this film. Their most famous routines are mimicked accurately, with triple-face-slapping, sledgehammers colliding with heads, saw blades going dull against Curly’s crown, and every other form of incredibly brutal but bloodless violence to the body (it’s so much, in fact, that directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly must orchestrate a PSA before the end credits to warn children not to copy what they see – somehow producers find this material comparable to the “Jackass” movies). The similarities continue into the trio bunking and snoring together, the sound effects of eye-poking, hair-pulling and chin-punching, snippets of the classic music (Three Blind Mice), the mismatched suits, overalls, and drag costumes, the wide-legged gait, and even borrowed verbal jokes from the original theatrical shorts. This exhaustive replication is ultimately just an uncreative copy, like Gus Van Sant’s 1998 shot-for-shot remake of “Psycho.” The actors have changed, but to what end? Even films like “My Week With Marilyn,” “J. Edgar,” or “A Dangerous Method,” which had equally unremarkable substance, examined a side of their subjects that weren’t completely familiar with audiences. This isn’t even a straight documentary like “The Lost Stooges” (1990) or a conventional biopic like “The Three Stooges” (2000), but rather an oddly arranged redo of the real Stooges’ skits.

The greatest flaw in the Farrelly’s efforts is with the integration of the stooges into modern society. Transposing them to a world of sagging pants, iPhones, pop music, breast implants, and “Jersey Shore” is simply horrifying. Their surroundings were always more serious than their incomparable immaturity, but never grounded in the realities of the time. Their gags need a more fantasy-like environment to be effective (in just a single scene do they appropriately construct this setting, converting a golf course into a free-range fish farm). Smacking around the cast of a reality TV show appears astonishingly forced, fake, and ill-fitted. The actual comedy violence is occasionally funny, but the backgrounds, context, and supporting characters are meddlesomely incompatible.

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10