Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Three Stooges

Nyuk! Nyuk! Nyuk!

Rated: PG  Some rude and suggestive humor, slapstick action violence and language
Release Date: April 13, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 32 mins

Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Writers:  Mike Cerrone, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Cast: Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos, Jane Lynch, Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Hudson, Stephen Collins, Larry David

SYNOPSIS: Left on the doorsteps of the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage as babies, Larry, Curly and Moe grow up and are never adopted. As bumbling adults, they set out to save the orphanage but find themselves embroiled in a murder plot and connected to a reality show.

REVIEW: The Farrelly Brothers, Bobby and Peter, creators and directors of Stuck With You, Shallow Hal, and Hall Pass, return to the big screen with their 
Me, Myself and Irene co-scribe Mike Cerrone to adapt the long running slapstick trio of Larry Fine, Curly Howard, and Moe Howard - also known as The Three Stooges.
Left on the doorsteps of the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage as infants in a duffel bag, the Three Stooges start off as adored babies by the nuns, except for Sister Mary-Mengele (Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm). Ten year later, young Moe (Skyler Gisondo, Psych), Larry (Lance Chantiles-Wertz, Pan Am) and Curly (Robert Capron, The Sorcerer's Apprentice) have managed to frazzle the patience and good will of the nuns, including Sister Rosemary (Jennifer Hudson, The Secret Life of Bees) and up to the Mother Superior (Lane Lynch, Glee) herself. Never properly adopted, the trio grows up and become ill-suited handymen around the orphanage grounds. Adult Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos, Under New Management), Larry (Sean Hayes, Will & Grace), and Curly (Will Sasso, Life As We Know It) bumble about causing more damage than they fix. When Monsignor Ratliffe (Brian Doyle-Murray, Groundhog's Day) announces to Mother Superior that the orphanage has run out of funds and will be forced to close in 30 days, the Stooges take on the challenge to go out into the world and raise the hundreds of thousands of dollars themselves.

I remember the Stooges in many incarnations as I watched their syndicated exploits on Saturday morning as a pre-teen, and watched them more after midnight into Sunday morning during my late teens and twenties. If you close your eyes during the Farrelly Brothers' version of The Three Stooges, you could swear that you were transported back to those similar times. With every "Whatsa matta with you?", classic boink sound effects, "Nyuk!" and "Whoo, Whoo, Whoo!", its hard to imagine that any times has past at all. Always a fan of the slap stick symphony of The Three Stooges, I believe the Farrelly Brothers did the ages-old entertainment trio franchise justice.

Both Chris Diamantopoulos and his younger counterpart Skyler Gisondo have perfected the classic Moe scowl. That, plus the bowl hair cut that preceded Jim Carrey's Lloyd Christmas by decades, make both of them modern carbon copies of Moe Howard. Sean Hayes uses his follicle challenged curls and over-sized wardrobe to embody the man named Larry. And Will Sasso uses his size, facial expressiveness and mannerisms to mold into a stooge named Curly. The Three Stooges have been parodied and copied countless times over the years since the decline of the Stooges popularity due to illness, line-up changes and death in the troupe, but Larry, Moe and Curly have left an indelible mark on entertainment and pop culture. The Farrelly Brothers do a good job both honoring the spirit of the purely American comedy act with its roots in vaudville and making a enjoyable popcorn comedy to boot.

The Three Stooges film is broken up into three connected short episodes just like we remember from our local Saturday morning affiliates. Each episode or vignette carries the classic title card for the Stooges with each member's face mugging with their names plastered beneath them. The first episode deals with the Stooges origins and their growing up in the orphanage. The second has them setting off to raise the money to save the orphanage, going to the big modern city, and finding themselves smack in the middle of a murder plot to kill a husband by gold-digging wife Lydia (Sofia Vergara, Modern Family) and her boyfriend Mac (Craig Bierko, Superhero Movie). The third episode finds Moe leaving his stooge pals after a blowup and ending up been discovered to be added to a popular reality show.

For me, the best part of the film is the first episode. The physical gags and slapstick works best when the stooges are still on orphanage grounds. It may be because it resembles closest to what I remember from the 40s and 50s short subject films watched in my youth - timeless in its hijinks. I have some critics bending my ear that the movie should have been left in black and white (what is this, The Artist?), but I feel it still holds an earlier era feel with the sets and costume through the first act. The rest is still funny, moving the stooges to the big modern city to contend with murder plots and reality shows. The best gag is Curly's reaction to an iPhone. And I am complete as I live vicariously through Moe as he contends with real reality stars like he would the absent Larry and Curly.

All in all, the Farrelly Brothers bring to the theater a light-hearted slap-sticky comedy that can appeal to the young and old. Kids will like the physical comedy like we all did as kids, and the adults will enjoy watching the Stooges in new situations. I would have liked to see something more inventive in spots, like a Matrix-y slo-mo action sequence as Moe is hammering away at Larry and Curly, but the Farrelly Brothers remain true to the original source materials and the men that made the comedy trio cultural icons. And for that I tip my hat and say Nyuk!, Nyuk!, Nyuk!

WORTH: Matinee or Rental

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