April 15, 2012

Movie Review: The Three Stooges (2012)

Some years back when there was buzz going around about a Stooges movie, I was positive it was a bad idea. Then there were the big names that were being attached to it, like Sean Penn, Jim Carrey, and Benicio del Toro, and I was still against it. Then it disappeared for a while and then the Farrelly Brothers ramped it back up and now we have it on the big screen. Having seen it, I would be lying if I said I didn't laugh, but while it may be the disaster it could have been, it is far from a good movie and feels rather un-Stooge-like in a number of aspects. In the end, I think the biggest question that can be levied against it is whether or not it was a necessary production?

Making a Three Stooges movie is not quite the same as remaking a movie. You are trying to recreate people and their comedic personalities. The Three Stooges aren't guys you can easily replace, they are an iconic comedy team. If this turns into a hit, how long before we get new versions of Abbott and Costello or Laurel and Hardy? Seriously, the only way these comedians should be brought to the screen is via documentaries or biopics, with the latter probably not being a good idea either.

With The Three Stooges we have a movie that seeks to recreate the comedic stylings of the past for two audiences, those looking for nostalgia, and those who just want to laugh. The problem is that the only way this an really work is nostalgia, as the style of comedy and the idea f what constitutes slapstick has changed a lot over the years. What worked then does not really work now, unless looking back through the prism of time.

What am I trying to say? Well, the Brothers Farrelly probably made the best Stooges movie you are likely to get this day and age, but it is also completely unnecessary and probably shouldn't have been made. I am generally not against the making of anything, but this one, well, this should have stayed in the idea phase.

The Three Stooges chronicles the lives of the Stooges, from their discovery on the steps of an orphanage to their early years there to their continuing life at said orphanage, and culminating with their attempt to raise money to save their home. It is broken up into three segments, trying to recreate the short format of the original Three Stooges films, and proves to be a good example of why they did not make features in the first place.

Anyway, the trio prove to be just as troublesome as children as they do as adults, making them virtually unadoptable. The story picks up during the second segment where they learn the orphange will be closed if they do not raise a lot of money. Not wanting their home to be closed and worried about the other kids there, they head off to town to try to make the money. In town they meet up with Lydia (Sofia Vergara) and Mac (Craig Bierko) and get swept up in a plot to kill Lydia's husband so she can be with Mac. Of course, comedic situations ensue which allow Mow, Larry, and Curly plenty of opportunities to smack each other around.

I did laugh. There are moments and bits that feel right in line with the spirit of the Three Stooges. It also helps that the three actors do a pretty good job of embodying the personas. Sean Hayes as Larry Fine, Will Sasso as Curly, and Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe do their best to replicate the slapstick rapport of the originals. There are times where it feels off, but I cannot complain that the effort wasn't there, especially with Will Sasso, who does a pretty good Curly.

Still, this is a tough one to recommend, especially with the original shorts being pretty easy to get ahold of. There are problems with this that really only exist because of the attempts at updating the style for a modern audience. Probably the biggest thing that I did not like was the story. The idea of the Stooges signing up to murder someone, regardless of the money, is not something I can see them agreeing to do. It struck me as very un-Stooge-like and helped reinforce the fact that these are not your Grandfather's Stooges. Another thing that jumped out was that there was a reason they did shorts, trying to stretch this material to feature length (regardless of the breakdown of segments within the film) causes the movie to drag. There are plenty of dull moments where I kept waiting for them to get on with it. Some of the comedic bits didn't feel right either, in particular I did not like the water gun fight (I know, not water guns, but you know the bit I am talking about). Then there is the disclaimer at the end, I hated that.

And let's not even start with the Jersey Shore junk. Although.... It was fun to see those fools getting slapped in the head.

In the end, this is a modestly funny and completely unnecessary comedy. I applaud the attempt, but it really was not necessary. See this if you must, but you would be better off with the originals, except for the ones with Curly Joe...

Oh yeah, was I the only one looking for a Shemp appearance? Perhaps I missed a reference?

Not Recommended.

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