After years of trying to get the project off the ground, the Farrelly Brothers finally bring us their big screen adaptation of the The Three Stooges. The guys responsible for such gross out classics like Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary attempt to update the classic Stooge act for a modern audience. After a few cringe-worthy, family friendly-trailers, the movie turns out better than previously expected, yet is nothing to brag about.
Writers: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Mike Cerrone
The Three Stooges follows the iconic slapstick trio on an adventure to raise money in order to save their childhood orphanage. Along with their get rich quick schemes in the city, they become involved in a murder plot and reality show.
- The Stooges: Credit must be given to the three leads-their Stooge impressions are top notch. They each deliver quite convincing portrayals of the originals. They’ve done their homework and make sure that they pay proper tribute to the classics. They work so well as a trio that most of the slapstick gags come off like a well-oiled machine. It’s like watching a well-rehearsed ballet of punches, pokes, and slaps. The three actors could have worked Vaudeville in the 20s if they wanted to. Although it would have been interesting to imagine what the performances would have been like with some original A-list casting rumors (including Jim Carrey, Sean Penn, and Benicio del Toro), however, these lesser known names still get the job done.
- Larry David: The star of Curb your Enthusiasm and co-creator of Seinfeld steals many of the early scenes as an old curmudgeon nun that ends up the butt of many of the Stooges’ jokes. It’s fun to see that David is in on the joke of this absurd idea. He relishes the idiocy of it all by being the “wink, wink” of the film to let us know that this is indeed stupid- yet we should enjoy the stupidity. He has some of the best lines and having a grumpy comic surrounded by kids result in some pretty great moments.
- The Farrelly Brothers are fans: The Farrelly Brothers’ past works take obvious influence and they make sure to pay some respect to the Stooges. They recycle a lot of great bits and at times show great comedic timing behind the camera. Like the classic shorts, the set ups in the film are all about speed and visual gags. There are some great set ups where they will let the trio play out their act in front of nothing more than a brick wall. It reminisces of classic Vaudeville and reminds us that physical comedy is universal. They also use some classic effects such as the cartoon sounds, wonderfully bad puns, and odd jobs set ups. The film is also sewed together like three Stooge shorts, making one complete film. Like Jason Segel and his Muppet movie, it’s nice to know that the filmmakers are fanboys of the material.
- For Kids or Adults: The biggest problem with the film is it doesn’t have a strong tone. Even though being faithful to some gags and routines, the Farrelly Brothers can’t help adding some of their own flavor to the mix. Unfortunately most of their flavor is gross out, raunchy humor that is too low brow- even for the Stooges. Sure there are a few chuckles in the dark humor, but it doesn’t necessarily fit in the Stooges universe, especially a movie aimed for kids…or is it? Sometimes it’s a family film and other times it’s strictly for adults. It’s surprising this got a PG rating with edgy jokes involving cancer, sex, and alcoholism. The film teeter-totters between cute, gooey kid show and mean spirited dark comedy and it doesn’t work.
- The Plot: There’s a reason the original Stooge routine was only in shorts. When the film opens, there is a certain charm to the three loveable idiots and their gags, but around the one hour mark, you get a little tired of it. You start thinking, is that all there is? And the plot is not strong or good enough for a full feature film. It only stands as a set up for the next getting slapped in the face routine.
- Too Topical: The filmmakers try really hard to make the Stooges for a modern audience which is understandable but they pile on the references making sure to get ever teen out there in on the joke. They make references to iPhones, the Kardashians, and Facebook- just to name a few. They even have the Jersey Shore cast have some screen time, which actually turns out to be a major plot turn in the film. Sure some audience members might get a kick out of the Jersey Shore cast getting their comeuppance with the Stooges but it plays more like a mildly amusing sketch for Saturday Night Live. The whole topical scenario wears out its welcome and feels gimmicky at times.
The film offers some nice laughs and some fantastic slapstick set-ups. It’s supported by a strong comedic cast and really brings the Stooges back to life with the leads. However, the movie is disjointed with some unnecessary raunchy humor and dark material. Some critics and audience members may think it’s too mean spirited while some will argue in favor of its twisted humor. It’s lost in its own world of inconsistent jokes and weak plot and it can’t decide who this film is being made for.
The Three Stooges open in theaters April 13, 2012.
Will you be seeing the Stooges?