[Review] – The Three Stooges

26 Apr

Title: The Three Stooges
Year: 2012
Directors: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly
Writers: Mike Cerrone, Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly, based on the short films by The Three Stooges
Starring: Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos, Jane Lynch, Larry David, Brian Doyle-Murray, Sofía Vergara, Jennifer Hudson, Stephen Collins, Dwight Howard, Kate Upton, Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi, Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino, Jennifer ‘JWoww’ Farley, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, Paul ‘Pauly D’ DelVecchio, Samantha Giancola
MPAA Rating: PG, slapstick action violence, some rude and suggestive humor including language
Runtime: 92 min
IMDb Rating: 5.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 46%
Metacritic: 56

The Three Stooges may just be one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2012 movie year. Not because it’s good, because it most definitely isn’t; but because it’s not as horrible as I was so sure it would be. Every single promotional material we had gotten for this film had me thinking it would be a serious contender for the worst film of 2012, and would instantly classify as my fourth D- of the year. Well, apparently the trailers and clips made it look far worse than it actually is, because even though this doesn’t hold the faintest of lights to the classic Three Stooges legacy it comes from, it definitely could have been far worse.

The thing this one has in its favor is the fact that it’s super clear from watching it that the Farrelly Brothers, Bobby and Peter, are clearly super reverential of the comedy trio and their style of super physical, extreme slapstick comedy. So the fact that they’re so obviously in love with those classic comedy short films means that they won’t piss on the material and the legacy, which I was so sure they were doing based on the trailers. But the thing is, even though this is so clearly made with a lot of love by the brothers, that’s about the only good thing one can say about it. Other than that it’s just a mediocre film that really makes you think that no one really figured out how to make The Three Stooges funny for the twenty-first century audience.

I kind of want to give it a recommending grade just because this didn’t suck, though, I really do. I won’t because I’d be lying, because it didn’t work for me, but it’s still kind of astounding to me to think that this film will actually work (and in some cases really work) for some people. Because there is that nostalgic sort of charm to all the eye-poking going on here, and the good-heartedness of this revival of such a beloved property is actually quite nice to watch unravel during these ninety minutes. Even if it’s not a good movie, you do get the sense that the Farrelly Brothers have made the best The Three Stooges movie one could have made in 2012, so at least there’s that.

It looks odd though because the three knuckleheads we are all familiar with, Larry, Curly and Moe (now played by Sean Hayes, Will Sasso and Chris Diamantopoulos, respectively), all look and act pretty much exactly like they did seven decades ago, which is obviously an even more off a look and demeanor when you put them in the world we live in now. A clash made all the more evident when you consider the movie pits the three against the Jersey Shore cast members, which I would say are the twenty-first century equivalent of people who do totally moronic stuff for the sake of it, though that wouldn’t be a fair comparison for The Three Stooges.

But yeah, you have three grown men behaving like children with weird haircuts and old clothes. No explanation for their look is given, not even a tongue-in-cheek one, we just have to accept that as a fact. What’s good is that even though all the people appearing in supporting roles are known by audiences (other than the Jersey Shore guys you have Jane Lynch, Sofía Vergara and Larry David, among others), the three leads aren’t well-known. I know a lot of names were floated around in the many years this film took to get made, from Sean Penn to Jim Carrey to (the very logical choice) Johnny Knoxville. But having three actors people aren’t that familiar with playing these roles is good because you don’t get distracted and you can believe them as this weird trio who looks odd in today’s world.

The plot of the film revolves around the Stooges growing up in an orphanage run by nuns, and never actually leaving the place, parents declining to adopt kids like them. And then the orphanage goes bankrupt and the Stooges vow to raise enough money to save their childhood home, which in turns gets them involved in ridiculous assassination plot and in reality television. All of which is obviously just there to get from Slapstick Checkpoint A to Slapstick Checkpoint B and get these guys in some really goofy situations so they can poke their eyes and hammer their heads, and for cartoonish sound effects to come from doing that.

As well-intentioned as this film was, however, it’s just not all that funny. And a Three Stooges film has to be funny, otherwise there’s nothing there. Maybe diehard Stooges fans will absolutely love this one, because it’s so clear the directors did and because the three leads do a really nice job at impersonating the legendary trio; but I obviously wasn’t raised with the Stooges in my life, so that won’t do it for me, and considering the film so clearly aims to introduce a new audience to this kind of vaudeville comedy, it’s safe to say it won’t succeed at that. The gags and the jokes, though definitely far from great, weren’t horrible either, but the film is too disjointed for them to work properly, and it’s shot in really unflattering ways. But hey, at least it’s not an unbearable film, which I was expecting it to be, it’s just a short, well-intentioned movie that tried to add something fresh to a legacy that would have been better off left alone.

Grade: C

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