- Movie Rating -

The Three Stooges (2012)

| April 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

If the Marx Brothers were the great symphony of anarchic comedy, then I think The Three Stooges are the comedy equivalent of Rock and Roll – and just for the record, I prefer Jerry Lee Lewis to Beethoven. Your level of enjoyment with The Farrelly Brothers version of The Three Stooges depends greatly on where you stand with The Stooges to begin with.  If, like me, you spent your afternoons as a kid seated in front of the television watching Moe, Larry and Curly in one-reel shorts with titles like “Disorder in the Court”, “Dutiful But Dumb”, “Loco Boy Makes Good” and “Oily to Bed, Oily to Rise”, then you are likely to be the target audience for this movie.  If you’re not, the movie will unquestionably be a struggle. I am among those legion of fans of the Stooges and I am happy to report that, for us, the movie gets the job done.

Peter and Bobby Farrelly make the wise choice to stick with the original material and avoid trying to update The Stooges for the 21st. They live in the 21st century, but have personalities that still seem stuck in the 1930s. The familiar Stooge-honored story is broken up into three segments.  The first involves the boys upbringing at a catholic orphanage, where they were dropped on the doorstep, and spent their childhood trying to get adopted.  Moe (nicely played as a 10 year-old by Skylar Gisondo) is adopted by a nice couple, but won’t go without his brothers.  So, the boys spend the next 25 years at the orphanage working as the maintenance men where wackiness ensues.

The second and third segments involve an attempt by the trio to raise $830,000 within a month to keep the orphanage from being closed.  Out in the real world for the first time, they immediately get involved in a scam by a buxom gold digger (Sofia Vergara from “Modern Family”) who hires them to kill her husband because he supposedly has one foot in the grave.  That plot is familiar and probably more complicated than it needs to be.  It hardly matters, everything in this movie, just like the old Stooges shorts, is just a clothes-line for physical gags. Most of the movie involves the classic Three Stooges convention of struggling to find work.  Some of the gags work, like their attempts to farm salmon, and a later attempt to sell ice cream (they forget the ice so they go from selling ice cream, to sour cream).

The casting here is just about right.  Sean Hayes, from “Will & Grace”, does a good job as Larry, the put-upon middle child.  Chris Diamantopoulas, from “24” gets Moe just right, and Will Sasso of “Mad TV” gets the unenviable task of attempting to recreate the Baby Huey-like antics of Curly.  That’s not an easy job, and I give Sasso a lot of credit for trying to pull off some of Curly’s inimitable gags.  The supporting cast is just right too, especially Larry David as the orphanage’s pucker-faced Sister Mary Mengele.  Also there’s Jane Lynch as the Mother Superior and the golden-voiced Jennifer Hudson as Sister Rosemary.

One of the things that make the movie work is that the Farrelly Brothers don’t seem to have dropped The Stooges into the real real world.  The world inside this movie seems to be just off-kilter enough that the trio fits right in.  Plus, the movie – in spite of the Farrelly’s track record with comedies like Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin and There’s Something about Mary – is relatively clean.  There are no bawdy jokes (one sight gag featured in the trailer involving a nun in a revealing swimsuit has been taken out of the film).  There’s no bad language, and nothing beyond the eye-poking and head-slapping that would concern a parent.  With that, The Farrelly Brothers give the film an epilogue to explain to impressionable kids that these are just gags and not to try them at home.

So the question remains: Is the movie funny?  For me, yes.  I laughed about half the time and smiled for the rest, but maybe that’s because I am a fan of The Stooges going in.  Some of their gags work, especially one in a nursery where the boys get into a water gun battle . . . without water guns.  Others, like a gag in which the boys have to dress up like female nurses seems creaky and tired.  Look, this is not a monumental comedy.  It is fun, clean, good-hearted, and about as good as a Three Stooges updating is ever likely to be.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2012) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy