The Three Stooges Movie Review

The Farrelly brothers return to the vacuously silly style of Dumb and Dumber for this gently idiotic comedy that recreates the iconic knucklehead trio that epitomised movie slapstick from the 1930s to the 1970s. Intriguingly, the film is warm and wacky, only rarely dips into today's more cynical, referential sense of humour. Clearly, the Farrellys have a real affection for the Three Stooges, as do the actors who recreate them.

The story starts as we watch Larry, Moe and Curly (Hayes, Diamantopoulos and Sasso) growing up in an orphanage, watched over by Mother Superior (Lynch) and several rather frazzled nuns (including Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson and Curb Your Enthusiasm's Larry David). But when the orphanage is threatened with closure, the clueless trio heads out to raise the cash needed to save it. They immediately run into the shamelessly wealthy Lydia (Vergara), who hires them to bump off her husband so she can run off with his business partner (Bierko). But of course everything goes crazily wrong.

If the plot sounds familiar, it's because it's essentially lifted from The Blues Brothers, only without the music and the deadpan wit. But then the Stooges aren't easy to place in a comedy spectrum: they're too ridiculous to be man-children, more dopey than disabled and as physically indestructible as cartoon characters. They're played in this film as genuinely sweet guys who haven't a clue how stupid they are. And the actors are good enough to weave a bit of subtext into their performances, with a nice sense of brotherly camaraderie in between the insults and physical mayhem.

So it's a bit annoying that the film aims for the cheapest laughs imaginable.

Still, there's a likeable tone to the way the Farrellys recreate the Stooges' original schtick, from eye-poking to crotch-kicking. They feel like time-travellers from the 1930s in a harsher modern world, and the film's funniest sequence puts Moe into the cast of Jersey Shore, where he easily outwits the preening reality TV stars. Which makes the Stooges' violence-based zaniness feel rather sweet compared to the cruelty of Z-list television.

Rich Cline


Comments

The Three Stooges Rating

" Weak "

Rating: PG, 2012

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