The Three Stooges (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

The Three Stooges (2012)

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Finally, a review of that Summer film that has everyone asking “Why did they think this was a good idea?” No, not Battleship, it's The Three Stooges!

Unless you were born in the past 5 years or lead a life completely devoid of fun, you should know who the Three Stooges are. In case your life really is so soul-crushingly terrible, or you are literally a baby, The Three Stooges follows Moe, Larry and Curly, a trio or orphaned brothers, as they try to save the orphanage where they grew up. Things get complicated when a scheming woman (Sofia Vergara) and her bumbling lover (Craig Bierko) try to hire the boys to kill her husband. Oh, and then somewhere along the way they wind up on The Jersey Shore because who doesn't want to see popular celebrities get punched for being popular?

We've got plenty of time to talk about what this film got wrong, but here's what it got right: Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes, and Will Sasso were perfect as Moe, Larry and Curly, respectively. And it wasn't just their voices and general appearance, either. They absolutely nailed the Stooges' mannerisms and personalities. Their talents were wasted on this film. Somebody, please hire them to do a series of shorts, a documentary, something, anything Stooge-related that would actually be worth while!

Oh my God, Curly......A BOMB!

Likewise, the physical humor was spot on. Every eye-poke and hammer-blow felt like good-old Stooge humor. Even the foley work sounded authentic. My only complaint was that while the Stooges visited plenty of different places, they very rarely broke away from using pokes or blows to the head. What's the point of putting the Stooges in a hospital or at a fancy party if you're not going to utilize your props more? Well, actually, they kind of do in the hospital, but I'll talk about that later. That deserves it's own paragraph.

Okay, let's talk story. The old Stooges skits weren't exactly plot-heavy, typically giving you just enough set-up to let you know today they'd be hitting each other with farm equipment or mining picks or football gear. Simple, but effective. After all, does anyone really care about the deeper motivations of Moe? No, they just want to see Curly get poked in the eyes.

The old Stooges used plot as a vehicle for physical humor. By contrast, the film uses slapstick to sort of fill the time until they feel like developing the plot. As a result, everything, both the slapstick and the plot, feel out of place; like two separate films crudely cobbled together.

The pacing is all wrong, too. The first act drags on for roughly five minutes before the Stooges even show up, and it's another good 15 minutes before we actually see them as adults doing Stooge-stuff (you know, what we paid to see). The first twenty minutes or so could easily have been removed from the film and nothing would have been lost.

Act two begins to somewhat resemble classic Stooges, but it keeps pushing the “kill the husband” plot that, honestly, isn't that funny. Oh, and it ends with, I shit you not, a pathos-dripping split between Moe and his two punching bag companions. Because that's what we all want to see in a Three Stooges film: The characters splitting-up so that they can't hit each other.

Act three is a lot of Moe beating on the cast of The Jersey Shore, because inflicting violence on people for being on a popular TV show is a completely normal, healthy form of humor. Oh, and the “kill the husband” and “save the orphanage” plots finally run together and the film ends with this scene:

Meanwhile, on the set of "Stooges Movie."

Which brings me to my other major problem is that the film: At some point in the creative process, the Farrellys (or, probably, someone from the studio) decided to make this more “kid friendly.” Does that mean they cut down the sex and violence? Of course, not! They just added more child actors to the film in order to pad out the plot and eat up time! The first five minutes or so focus entirely on the how terrible the kids' lives are, thanks to the “mean” nun (Larry David in the low-point of his career).

There's also a subplot with a couple of child characters who refuse to be adopted unless they can get adopted together. How does this fit into the film? Awkwardly. It really feels like it's throw in there just so kids can have characters to relate to, though I suspect most kids were bored by the lack of people getting hit in these scenes.

I suspect there was a point after this in production where someone said “Oh man, with all this kid-friendly stuff, all the parents out there are gonna be bored! How can we fix that?” Naturally, the answer was “tits.” Look, I'm not saying Sophia Vergara or Kate Upton (as the “bikini nun”) aren't good actors, or that they don't have qualities beyond base sex appeal, but let's not kid ourselves: There are only two reasons why the Farrellys cast them in this picture.

Such edgy social comentary.

What's really disappointing about this is that the film came so close to getting the Stooges right, but missed. The original Stooges had a universal appeal that didn't rely on sex appeal or pandering to kids. There's a reason why those shorts have stood up so well over the years. There's a reason why I watched them with my father, and I'll watch them with my future children: There' just something inherently funny about goofy-looking guys hitting each other with Looney Tunes sound effects.

I'd like to finish here, but there's one last bit we really need to talk about: The Pee Fight. No, no, it's not what you're thinking. See, while they're running around the hospital, the boys stumble upon the nursury and are forced into changing the newborns' diapers. Well, Curly gets peed on, then some of the pee accidentally splashes on Moe and, well, I think you can see where this is going. No? Okay, I'll paint you a picture: Each of the Stooges grabs a child and being squirting each other with baby pee.

What's so incredible about this scene isn't so much that it happens; it's that it goes on for a good three minutes. Think about that. Not only did someone come up with the idea to have the Stooges shoot pee at each other, they said “Oh man, we gotta draw this out as long as we can!” It's somewhat brilliant in it's insanity.

I really can't recommend The Three Stooges to anyone but the most diehard of Stooge fans. It's a shame, too, as Diamantopoulos, Sasso, Hayes and probably at least one of the Farrellys clearly loved and respected the Stooges and wanted to bring them to the big screen. There was a lot of heart in the performances, but story itself, and the film as a whole, is devoid of charm.

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Posted by Jacob

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  1. It’s lame, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s not terrible and does have laughs here and there. Still, when it comes to doing an hour 34 minute movie of the Three Stooges, it does seem a bit stretched. Good review Jacob.

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