The Three Stooges Directed by: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly Cast: Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos, Will Sasso, Sofía Vergara, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson, Larry David Running Time: 1 hr 32 mins Rating: PG Release Date: April 13, 2013
PLOT: Moe, Larry, and Curly must try to save their orphanage. While doing so, they accidentally stumble into a murder plot.
WHO'S IT FOR? Have you been dying to see what the original Stooges would be like in today's movie world? Get in line. Kids who enjoy physical fake pain will probably have fun as well.
On Friday the 13th, it felt like The Three Stooges was going to be some horrific, cruel joke on audiences. After all, the Farrelly brothers haven't made a truly funny, buzz worthy film since 1998. Not only that, Sean Hayes is the biggest named Stooge. In the film critic community, thinking about sitting through The Three Stooges was on pair with our anticipation of The Smurfs. Well, I'm happy to report that this film isn't awful. Sometimes being average can actually feel like a good thing. That's the case with The Three Stooges.
The plot is a combination of The Blues Brothers and Fletch with a little "Jersey Shore" thrown in for ... well, there's never a good reason to include "Jersey Shore" is there?
The orphanage where the boys grew up, and still live, has 30 days to raise almost one million dollars or else they must close their doors. The three knuckleheads set off to find a way to save the day. They encounter Lydia (Vergara) who wants her husband dead for his inheritance. All she has to do is convince Larry, Moe and Curly to knock him off. It's kind of funny how dark this comedy is, mainly because it never seems to recognize itself as a dark comedy.
Larry, Moe and Curly constantly beat each other up in ways that would kill. Wacky sound effects attempt to make it OK. There are some seriously painful moments like when the boys attempt to revive a police officer by using two irons instead of defibrillator paddles. There's definitely enough (comedic) violence to warrant a PG-13, though they've gotten away with a PG. After all, when the film ends there is a warning letting kids know they should not try this stuff at home. The violence isn't what I found funniest. The misdirection actually had me laughing more than any of the hammer-to-head moments. Early on, when a young Larry, Moe and Curly have a chance to be adopted, there are some really good times at the expense of cute kids. It's enough to make the film move by without making you look at your watch.
The cast does a good imitation of the original men (Moe Howard, brother Curly Howard and Larry Fine). I don't feel like that is enough. That's because The Three Stooges mean something to so many, you want this to be bigger. A biopic would have been great. Plus there were the rumors of Jim Carrey, Sean Penn and Benicio Del Toro considering the roles. Beyond the main characters, there are big names, but not big laughs. Vergara proves she can tone down her accent, but not anything else. Jennifer Hudson could have been anyone. Jane Lynch is asked to be compassionate instead of funny, and then there's Larry David. He plays a nun. I know that sounds like it could be good, or at least interesting. Unfortunately it's just an awkward voice and some physical pain.
We are not as much of a slapstick society as we once were. Watching someone slip on a banana peel is all people used to need. Comedy has evolved. Off the top of my head, the last time a movie nailed consistent slapstick was the finale of Home Alone. I'm not saying there isn't a place for The Three Stooges. There absolutely is. That's why the original black and white shorts are stilling playing on some TV channel as you read this. This film feels like a quality straight to DVD flick. The Three Stooges is not as painful as I thought it would be.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10