‘The Three Stooges’
By MICHAEL WALTERS
Let’s start out with a few pebbles of faint praise before heaping on the giant boulder of criticism. The Farrelly Brothers get the classic Stooges sound effects just right in this lovingly made recreation. And as any stooge fan knows, the sound effects are a subtle but essential part of the comedy. And the movie’s heart is certainly in the right place. The Farrelly Brothers clearly love the Stooges and want to introduce them to a new generation. But the only bone that doesn’t get punched, knocked, broken or tickled is the funny bone of its audience. If young kids see this, it might just do in the Stooges forever.
I’m a bit of a Stooge nut. I remember watching them on TV with my grandfather and chuckling while my grandmother cast a worried eye on me and wondered if I might ever try to actually poke someone’s eye out or wield sledgehammer to get a point across. But the Stooges comedy is a lot harder than it looks. It takes the right combination of characters, sound, timing, and rhythm to pull it off. The best shorts had a gleeful anarchy about them, and the stooges would do anything for a laugh. The worst featured just three tired men hitting each other a lot.
Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes, and Will Sasso do passable imitations of Moe, Larry and Curly. In many instances they’re using the exact same jokes word-for-word. But that’s all they are… passable. Sasso fares best with an array of Nyuk Nyuks and teeth chattering sound effects. But there’s something about the recreations that’s a little bit off. The movement’s a little too slow, the timing just a hare off kilter. When the slaps, and eye pokes come at such a fevered furious pace that it creates a sort of stooge symphony of sound, I laughed a little. But those moments were few and oh so brief.
The film is structured as three short subjects strung together, complete with the original music from the shorts and title cards. They’ve kept the stooges the same, but brought the action up to the present day. The Stooges grow up in an orphanage being cared for and terrorizing the nuns played by Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson, and Larry David. The stooges have to come up with $830,000 to save the orphanage from being shut down. Along the way they run into a femme fatale (Sofia Vergara) trying to bump off her rich husband, and Moe somehow winds up as a cast member on Jersey Shore- not that the plot every mattered much in any Stooges short.
I felt a little sad seeing these timeless characters bunched together with future time capsules like Vergara and Snooki. When you have Larry David playing a nun and you still can’t get any laughs, you know something’s wrong.