Review: The Three Stooges – Soitenly surprising!

Movies, Television

The Three Stooges Movie PosterThere are two kinds of people in this world, those that hate The Three Stooges and those that love their timeless cartoonish live-action antics. If you are a fan of Moe, Larry and Curly, then you know that these beloved American pop culture icons can never be copied or replaced; even when they tried to do it themselves, after the high-energy Curly Howard suffered a stroke and was replaced by his brother Shemp, the soul of the Stooges was never the same. Not only can they not be copied, the question is, SHOULD anyone even try to emulate these comedic geniuses?  Dumb & Dumber directors, the Farrelly Brothers, have given it a shot and the result is hilariously amazing.

The original Three Stooges have been a part of our comedic culture since the 1930s and they appeared in almost 200 shorts and feature films. Generations of fans spent countless hours literally rolling-on-the-floor-laughing in front of their television sets on Saturday mornings watching the infamous Stooge eye-pokes and face-slaps.

In the new film The Three Stooges, writer/director brothers Bobby & Peter Farrelly have crafted a movie that almost perfectly captures the innocent tone and absurdly insane slapstick of the original Stooge short-films and they also found a trio of actors that not only have an uncanny resemblance to the original Moe Howard, Curly Howard and Larry Fine, but their performances are uproarious and nearly dead-on accurate.

It’s all about the antics, but the story involves the baby boys being dumped on the doorstep of a Catholic orphanage and driving the nuns crazy, because with  no potential parents showing any interest in the three boys together, they live with the sisters and orphans clear into adulthood. Their unruly nuttiness has cost the orphanage hundreds of thousands of dollars and it will be shut down unless the fellas can figure out a way to make amends by raising the money to save it. So they head out into the world for the very first time, basically just big out-of-touch children set loose on an unsuspecting society. Wonderful Stooge-style wackiness ensues.

Curly, Moe and Larry - The Three StoogesMoe, Larry and Curly are played by relatively unknown actors Chris Diamantopoulos , Sean Hayes and Will Sasso respectively. The three have done a lot of minor television work, but they certainly have some serious acting chops as their portrayal of the Stooges is stupendous. The film also stars sexy Sofía Vergara as a gold-digger that hires the boys to murder her husband, Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) as Sister Mary-Mengele and Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls, American Idol), who seems awkwardly out of place as Sister Rosemary.

The choreography and timing of the slapstick gags in this film are spot-on for the most part, but, even though this movie was a lot more fun than I ever expected, there are a few missteps. There is a lengthy gag that has the guys using baby urine streams in a sort-of squirt-gun fight (for some literal potty-humor) that felt awkward and unstooge-like. There is also a plot element that has Moe joining the Jersey Shore reality television show that falls flat and sends the movie into a more modern tone that felt out of place – although there was some satisfaction in watching Moe slap the reality-show simpletons around a bit (someone needed to do it.)

For the most part The Three Stooges is a great family movie that kids are going to love. It has a good-natured innocence that hearkens back to the era of its source material and it has a PG rating which is a rarity these days (especially from the creative team that brought us Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary.) Should kids see this movie with all its cartoonish violence? I’m no child psychiatrist, but my personal belief is that you are causing your kids colossal cultural damage by depriving them of The Three Stooges. Make sure you stick around for the Farrelly Brothers funny “don’t-do-this-at-home” bit at the end of the movie.

I’m typically not a big fan of remakes and copies, especially when it comes to icons I treasure as much as I do the original Three Stooges, but somehow this new movie won me over. Most anyone attempting to do slapstick even remotely similar to the style of The Three Stooges would in all likelihood fail miserably and be an utter and obvious rip-off . No one can do it like them, but the guys have got to be looking down and laughing at Diamantopoulos, Hayes and Sasso and pulling their strings if not possessing them completely, because they almost seem like the real deal.

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