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The Three Stooges Review

Slapstick humor is far from dead, but it has definitely changed since the glory days of the original "Three Stooges" act, albeit maybe not entirely for the better (thanks, Jackass). While the original trio's act was great, the sound effects-laden wackiness of Moe, Larry and Curly have become dated for a modern context. That is the issue at the center of the Farrelly brothers' revival of The Three Stooges. Plenty of love for the original material, but not enough creativity or expansion to bring it into a new century. The plot is ridiculously basic (you're stunned, we know): Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos), Larry (Sean Hayes) and Curly (Will Sasso) are thrown on the doorstep of an orphanage when they are babies, causing chaos from day one. Never getting adopted as children, the trio spends over 30 years in the orphanage, going from kids to groundskeepers. One day, Mother Superior (the wasted Jane Lynch) learns that the orphanage will be shut down unless they can come up with $830,000 to pay past debts. Without hesitation, the Stooges volunteer to head out into the world to gather the money needed to save the orphanage. Again, it's clear everyone involved loves the original source material, and many aspects and scenarios from the original "Stooges" films make it into this one: the workshop, the farm, the hospital, etc. The mannerisms of Moe, Marry and Curly are spot on, from "nyuck nyuck nyuck" to every "why I oughta..." that comes out of Moe's mouth. Slapstick is all about timing and the new gents have it. Hell, even the film's three-act structure is built as if they were "episodes" to an old-school Stooges routine with each episode getting a title card introduction. What makes the film so bad to watch is how it feels so incredibly dated despite the fact it is a reboot. The context we find the guys in is one they have done before. The over-the-top sounds are cheap and prehistoric. The execution is there but lacks a refined polish to make "Stooges" stand apart from its predecessor as slapstick in the modern age. One of the best things about the original Stooges act was in how far they pushed the limits of physical comedy. With this film, it feels less an advancement of the slapstick genre and more like three giant steps back. You would think it'd help that the Farrelly brothers have thrown in a touch of their signature crassness to go along with the humor, but it just comes off as disturbing, especially for a film with so many kids bound to be in the audience. The scene that comes to mind involves the Stooges breaking into a hospital, looking for a man they were hired to kill, a job they botched earlier (don't ask). Unintentionally wandering into the pediatrics ward, the guys are inadvertently tasked with changing the diapers of some babies. Apparently these infants had been busy drinking, because a "piss fight" breaks out in which the gang turns the babies into water guns, dousing each other in urine. I'd rather have my child watch the Joker slam a pencil into some thug's eye than subject them to that scene from The Three Stooges. Overall, the film isn't funny but it has enough of the physical sight gags to entertain mass audiences looking for very, very dumb comedy. With the ending we're given and a relatively small budget of $30 million, it pains me to say the Stooges will return to the screen at some point in the future. Hopefully they can bring a few new concepts and scenarios to the table while upgrading their soundboard dating back to the '40s. One more thing: any film that has the cast of Jersey Shore in it for an extended period of time doesn't deserve your money. Understand that it wasn't just a marketing ploy. They're actually in the movie. And it is horrible.


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