When the orphanage they have lived in their entire lives is threatened to be shut down, Larry (Sean Hayes), Curly (Will Sasso) and Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos) set out to get the money needed to save it.
Directed by The Farrelly Brothers, Peter and Bobby, (Kingpin, There’s Something About Mary), The Three Stooges is a modern re-make/re-telling of the iconic early 20th century comedy/slapstick shorts. While this film has heart in spades, there is just something missing in the final work and it doesn’t hold up. The directors clearly understand the Stooges and clearly understand the unique brand of humor, but when put into a modern setting, something just feels off. I suppose that in today’s world, no one would ever get away with eye poking, dropping a lobster down someone’s pants, or having a baby pee battle without being arrested and sentenced to a lot of jail time. Today’s cynical world might be the right time for the Stooges to reinvigorate comedy, but it doesn’t fit in the modern day setting.
Set up in three episodes, the movie follows the exploits and adventures of Larry, Moe, and Curly as they attempt to get $830,000 dollars to keep their orphanage from closing. Of course, the orphanage is closing due to the insurance premiums that the Stooges have racked up and the church cannot afford to pay them. While they are blissfully ignorant when it comes to the information that it is closing because of them, they set out into the big, bad 21st century world to make the money. They attempt to murder an heiress’s husband, raise salmon, and Moe even ends up on MTV’s Jersey Shore. While there is something completely satisfying about watching Moe eye poke and beat on the Jersey Shore cast, that really is about the only laugh out loud part of the movie.
The cast does a fabulous job at playing the Stooges. All three of them have the mannerisms, moves, and look an awful lot like the originals. The resemblance is uncanny, in fact. The casting is not the problem with this movie, and is in fact a masterstroke by The Farrelly’s. There is absolutely nothing bad to say about the performances by the three leads. They are fantastic and do an amazing job with their characters. I would be so bold as to call them Oscar worthy. Yes, they are that good in their roles.
While the story is nothing special, it does somewhat manage to feel like a Stooges short. Until they hit the big city in 2012. Then, their antics just seem completely out of time and place with everything else in the world. While no one is going to mistake this for real life, there is a big disconnect when they are in the modern world. Their nyuk-nyuk-nyuk, eye-poking, hammer to the head, lobster in the pants gags just feels so far removed from anything we know and recognize as comedy today that it is hard to swallow.
This isn’t a horrible film by any means. Criticism’s aside, I did enjoy the movie . . .for the most part. Some of the comedy bits were entertaining. The mentioned Jersey Shore bit was absolutely hilarious, as was the baby pee battle in the hospital. While the pee battle was no spitting clams from the original shorts, it was pretty darned funny. After watching this, though, I can’t help but feel that the Stooges were better off in shorts rather than a long form movie. Their antics tend to get a bit overused in a full film which makes watching this become a chore. A lot of what was funny or humorous in the beginning starts to fall flat by the second half of the film.
One thing I am confused about is who this film was made for. The target audience seems to be all over the place. Was this made as a children’s film? Was this a film made for pure nostalgia? Is this an adult film with childlike sensibilities? I really don’t know. I suppose some of that confusion on my end made me enjoy the film less than I thought I would. I never knew what to expect.
The Three Stooges is an entertaining film, and mildly funny. Children will be sure to love it and the Stooges antics, but adults my feel a little left out in the cold. If you are a fan of the old Stooges short, you shouldn’t be disappointed. The three leads are expert mimics and completely sell you on the characters of Moe, Larry, and Curly. Clearly, you don’t want to go into this expecting anything more than nyuk-nyuk and eye-poking. If you expect no more than that, you should find yourself sufficiently entertained for 90 minutes.
** out of ****
*NOTE* While watching this yesterday, my 2 year old son watched with me. This was good and bad. He seemed to love the film, but I caught him trying to poke me in the eye . . .seriously. . .it was funny, but somewhat frightening . . .now where did I put that hammer . . .he really doesn’t need to get ahold of that . . .