The Three Stooges
One of the things you have to ask yourself about The Three Stooges is what you’re expecting it to be. I mean, how “good” can a movie like this actually be? The trio were never highbrow characters out for big laughs from the highbrow set, unless it meant a hammer to the high brow and a knee to the set. So transporting that sort of manic, cartoonish, sound-embellished violence to the modern era, where we view ourselves as being much more sophisticated, was always going to be tricky.
In today’s cynical, irony-craving culture, the only way to really go about bringing The Three Stooges to screen would be in some sort of winking, nudging way. Thankfully, the Farrelly Brothers didn’t succumb to our arrogance. They made the movie they wanted to make and delivered the Stooges the way the Stooges should be delivered, complete with Larry David playing a nun and some rather generous cleavage to munch up ample screen time.
The film, arranged into a series of episodes, finds three dopey-looking orphans dropped off at Sisters of Mercy. Within minutes, they’ve wreaked havoc on the nuns. The desperate ladies of the Lord try to get the trio adopted but to no avail. After years pass, the three have grown up into Moe (Chris Diamantopolous), Larry (Sean Hayes) and Curly (Will Sasso).
The orphanage is primed to run out of money, so the Three Stooges hit the road to try to earn the $830,000 needed to save the joint. They fall into a bit of a haphazard plot involving a hottie (Sofia Vergara) trying to knock off her husband (Kirby Heyborne) as part of a bizarre set of circumstances. The Stooges, smelling opportunity, try to get involved and wind up over their heads.
The good news is that Bobby and Peter Farrelly’s movie calls back to the days of yore when a poke in the eye or a twist of the nose meant something. There was something vital, something vigorous about the purity of hammering someone on the forehead with a ballpeen or misreading a sign to dangerous degrees or barking like a dog in polite conversation. Something about the energy surpasses our deep-seated desires to moan and cry about the stupidity of society.
That may seem hyperbolic (it is) and pretentious (it is), but I think there’s a point to be made there. There were reviews of The Three Stooges that decried it for being “the death of comedy,” but that doesn’t seem to make much sense. There’s not one ounce of this film that is designed to be taken seriously, from the “whoa, dude” orphans to the abundance of Vergara, Kate Upton and, yes, JWoww.
And in these days of irony and Internet memes, perhaps a little purity is just the ticket. Perhaps the “death of comedy” could mean the death of taking comedy too seriously, the death of taking preposterously circuitous means to go for the laugh. In The Three Stooges, the Farrellys aim for the lowest common denominator and nail the chump right in the nuts.
The casting is ideal, from top to bottom back to tops. There’s some hilarious stuff from the cast of a certain reality show that I’ve already hinted at and David’s run as the devilishly-named Sister Mary Mengele is dumb in every good sense of the word. There’s also an appearance by the Old Spice Guy and other modern circus freaks. And the arrival of the “Farrelly Brothers” at the conclusion of the picture to offer a warning is just the right touch.
So see The Three Stooges. Be blessed by the purity of simplicity and vaudeville ridiculousness. Marvel at the anarchy and spirit of the Stooges. And don’t be ashamed when your eyeballs pop out of your head, dolphin-style, when Miss Upton’s Sister Bernice guards the heck out of that swimming pool.