Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantapoulos, Will Sasso, Larry David, Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Hudson, Jane Lynch DIRECTED BY
The Farrelly Brothers SCREENPLAY
Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly, Mike Cerrone MPAA RATING
Rated PG RUNNING TIME
85 Mins. DISTRIBUTED BY
20th Century Fox DVD EXTRAS
Blu-ray Special Features will include
What’s the Big Idea? A History of The Three Stooges
Knuckleheads: Behind the Scenes of The Three Stooges
Did You Hear that? The Three Stooges Sound Effects
While The Three Stooges doesn't necessarily signal the return to form of the Farrelly Brothers, it is closer to their best work than they've actually achieved in recent years. At their best, Peter and Bobby Farrelly manage to weave together a weird blend of coarse and crude humor with a genuine affection for society's goofballs, weirdos and rejects. At their worst, their humor isn't particularly funny and their films are rather mean-spirited (such as 2007's The Heartbreak Kid).
The Three Stooges isn't a brilliant comedy and in all likelihood if you've never cared for the Stooges, then you won't find yourself embracing this film. Of course, if you've never cared for the Stooges then I doubt you'll go to the film anyway. Why would you?
The Three Stooges is such a faithful homage to its original source material that it almost brings to mind Gus Van Sant's too faithful for comfort version of Psycho. This film is far more successful than Van Sant's, but at times regularly throughout the film's nearly 90-minute running time you'll swear you're watching nothing more than an updated series of Stooges skits.
I won't say that I've ever fancied myself a diehard Stooges fan, though in the right mood I'll laugh myself completely silly at even the dumbest of their routines. I found myself laughing consistently throughout The Three Stooges, though it's fair to say that the laughs aren't the kind that will be sustained for days nor ones that I necessarily felt compelled to rush home telling friends about by film's end.
The film opens with our terrible trio being dumped off as babies at an orphanage run by nuns. By the age of 10-years-old, it's become apparent to everyone that these mischievous merrymakers aren't likely to be adopted by anyone. The film then fast forwards a few more years and our trio of Moe (Chris Diamontopolous), Larry (Sean Hayes) and Curly (Will Sasso) are still living at the orphanage basically because they have no place else to go and are able to sustain themselves by doing, or at least appearing to do, odd jobs around the place.
The Three Stooges is divided into three cohesive skits wrapped around the basic idea of the Stooges uniting to help save their beloved orphanage. Of course, our guys encounter a variety of good guys and bad guys along the way while doing everything they can to help the nuns who raised them. The nuns are played by the likes of Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson and, yes, Larry David as Sister Mary-Mengele.
The Farrelly Brothers have more typically been known for their excessive irreverence, but with The Three Stooges they turn in a surprisingly reverent film filled with the expected physical antics, virtually every Three Stooges bit you could want, a contemporary setting that includes the Stooges doing a spin on Jersey Shore and, perhaps most surprisingly of all, an abundance of heart and sweetness that really does get at the soul of The Three Stooges.
The cast is well chosen, with only Sean Hayes among our leading trio being even remotely close to a household name. Hayes, whom you likely remember from Will & Grace, nicely captures Larry, arguably the least expressive of the three. Veteran stage actor Chris Diamontopoulos is a hoot as the always agitated Moe, however, it's really MadTV vet Will Sasso who steals the show as the always sweet, likable and in trouble Curly. Sasso so completely nails Curly that one really hesitates to even call it acting. It's more like Sasso is channeling Curly.
Among the supporting players, there's no question that Larry David steals the entire film as Sister Mary-Mengele, the kind of cliche'd yet hilarious nun who has been the subject of nearly every Catholic child's nightmare. Jennifer Hudson and Jane Lynch are also both terrific here.
The Three Stooges isn't a brilliant comedy, but it's likely the comedy that folks waiting on the film are hoping for. Almost destined to have its fair share of haters, The Three Stooges is neither as brilliant as some will proclaim it nor the travesty to comedy that some are already announcing. The Three Stooges is simply a good-hearted and entertaining tribute to a classic mid-century comic act that will please most Stooges' fans while not likely finding them any new ones.