THE THREE STOOGES
MOVIE: **(out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
At times, I wonder if us critics have been too tough on the Farrelly Brothers’ reboot of “The Three Stooges.” After all, it seems that all they’re trying to do is honor one of the funniest comedy troupes in American history. Plus, this isn’t the first time the Stooges have attempted to be retread (and that’s not including the live-performance revivals of various sorts.
After the Stooges were done with their shorts at Columbia, they attempted their own retread with Curly Joe in the iconic spot of Curly. While the Stooges themselves were excited to get into feature films, Stooge fans acknowledge that these were pale comparisons to the original comedy. But even before Curly Joe came on the scene, Joe Besser had a stab at recreating the magic with Larry and Moe, and it resulted in some of the worst Stooge episodes ever.
So that makes me wonder if the Farrelly’s “The Three Stooges” is any better or worse than these incarnations, including weird spin-offs like the Robonic Stooges cartoons from Hannah-Barbera. I think it’s all about at the same level, so the Farrellys haven’t done anything too bad along the way. And after taking a step back, their film “The Three Stooges” isn’t terrible. It actually has some good things in the mix.
The story follows Larry, Moe and Curly from their infancy, being raised in an orphanage. When the orphanage falls on hard times, the Stooges set out into the world to raise $830,000 to save their childhood home. Along the way, they get roped into a murder scheme and, of course, cause a lot of shenanigans along the way.
As a standard family film, “The Three Stooges” can be fun. There’s a certain heart the film retains in simply enjoying cartoonish slapstick humor. Like any number of “The Three Stooges” shorts from Columbia, this film isn’t trying to change the world. It’s just trying to make people laugh.
On the whole, the performances are really quite good. Chris Diamantopoulos does a striking performance as Moe, but it’s Sean Hayes as Larry that really nails the classic role. Together, the Stooges have some decent chemistry, and I’ll have to say I laughed at quite a few jokes.
However, there are problems. Will Sasso is woefully out of place as Curly. While he does an impression that would work in his old job at MadTV, it comes across as more imitative than an actual performance. Plus, he’s too large for the role, considering the original Stooges were all approximately the same height. The new story also has a little too much potty humor, which only bothers me because it was never a large part of the Stooge’s act.
Finally, the movie goes completely off the rails when Moe joins the cast of “The Jersey Shore.” Stooping so low for a few jokes deemed to be relevant, the Farrellys give us the modern equivalent of making an iconic 80s character perform a rap to connect better with the youth of the day.
In the end, “The Three Stooges” isn’t terrible, but it’s a misfire. Maybe Diamantopoulos and Hayes could replace Sasso and start making shorts again. At the very least, this inspired me to watch some of the old short films from the 30s, and that’s always a treat.
The Blu-ray includes a DVD and Digital Copy disc for portable viewing. Bonus material includes a bunch of deleted and extended scenes, the original screen test and a mash-up of classic Stooge moments from the film. Featurettes include the overly congratulatory slate of “What’s the Big Idea?: A History of The Three Stooges,” “Knuckleheads: Behind the Scenes of The Three Stooges,” “Do You Hear That?: The Three Stooges Sound Effects” and “Poifect!: Casting The Three Stooges.”