Three Stooges Should've Remained in Reruns
- Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2012 4 Apr
DVD Release Date: July 17, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: April 13, 2012
Rating: PG (for slapstick action violence, some rude and suggestive humor including language)
Run Time: 92 min.
Directors: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Actors: Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos, Jane Lynch, Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Hudson, Lary David, Craig Bierko, Stephen Collins
Like the threadbare Saturday Night Live sketch that somehow makes its way to the big screen (MacGruber, anyone?), the slapstick shenanigans of Moe, Larry and Curly, a.k.a. The Three Stooges, wear out their welcome in, oh, about five minutes flat—and that’s being generous.
Not surprisingly, the project has been stuck in development for years now, and why it’s seeing the light of day now is really anyone’s guess. It certainly isn’t a return to comedic form for the Farrelly brothers who desperately needed one after last year’s dreadful Hall Pass, that’s for sure. In fact, even if you’re a relatively easy laugh, it’s still impossible to find much, if any, enjoyment in the bumble-headed antics of three middle-aged friends whose idea of a good time usually involves some sort of bodily harm.
But for whatever reason this mess was greenlighted, it’s every bit as bad as the trailer suggests. Not even the presence of truly funny supporting talent like Larry David (TV’s Curb Your Enthusiasm), Jane Lynch (Glee) and Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) can save The Three Stooges. If anything, you’re only reminded how much better that show was in simple black and white.
Rather than offering a playful homage to Moe, Larry and Curly or even telling an “origins” story that provides further insight into the characters themselves, the storyline itself was apparently ripped out of mothballs as well. Kicking off at the orphanage the Stooges were dropped off at, the “plot” is nothing more than watching the Stooges act out, first as toddlers, and then, as adults.
Borrowing every n’yuck, n’yuck, n’yuck from the original series, you can’t help wondering why the screenwriters even bothered dropping the Stooges in to a modern setting. Worse yet, the tired script focuses on their first foray into “real life” where they’re attempting to raise $830,000 to keep the orphanage open after mysterious “financial challenges” threaten to shut the whole place down.
Given their sheer lack of employable qualities, one can only imagine how much trouble the guys get into while trying to land a profitable gig (one scenario naturally involves a memorable cameo on TV’s Jersey Shore). And since the Farrelly Brothers are involved, there’s no shortage of lowbrow potty humor to boot.
Just to give you an idea of how thoroughly uninspired the movie is, one overly-long scene that’s trademark Farrelly involves the Stooges changing a roomful of babies’ diapers and spraying each other in the face, chest, etc. with streams of the little ones’ urine.
Are you laughing yet?
See, the beauty of the original series, and trust me, I’ve seen practically every knuckle sandwich ever administered thanks to my brother who adored the Stooges, is that the sketches were short. Humor like this is only funny in very, very small doses. Plus, if imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, you’d expect these characters to translate better.
For whatever reason, these Stooges come off as nothing more than bargain bin knockoffs. While they’re borrowing many of the same tricks from the original Moe, Larry and Curly, the execution isn’t remotely inspired. It’s like having a second-rate rock band covering a Beatles song. The Lennon-McCartney lyrics may be the same, but at the end of the day, they’re still not the Beatles. And that’s precisely what’s missing in The Three Stooges—talent, inspiration or even a compelling reason to revisit these pop culture icons.
If you find yourself needing a Stooges fix, opt for the original box set instead.
- Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking depicted, plus Curly drinks copious amounts of champagne from a fountain and mentions beer on several occasions.
- Language/Profanity: In true Farrelly brothers fashion, there is plenty of scatological humor involving passing gas, urine and a live lobster that makes its way into Larry’s pants. There’s also a single exclamation of God’s name, plus some general derogatory terms like “knuckleheads” and “nitwits” for people who got the short end of the stick from an intelligence perspective.
- Sex/Nudity: None, although there are a couple of characters who sport very low-cut, and sometimes, skimpy attire. Curly’s pet rat crawls down the front of a woman’s shirt.
- Violence: While slapstick in nature, there is no shortage of pain inflicted throughout. Various characters are knocked in the head with a hammer, run over by a kid on a pogo stick, impaled by an arrow and really that’s only the beginning. There are also instances where body hair is ripped out, crowbars are taken to the chin and wild animals get very, very angry, thanks to the Stooges’ misguided shenanigans. Basically, if you’ve seen the TV show, you won’t be surprised by the steady stream of violent antics throughout.
- Religion/Spirituality: When the Stooges leave the orphanage, one of the nuns says that “Like Moses in the desert, I believe God will be guiding them.”
Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog. For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.