Movie Review: The Three Stooges (2012)

Wessler Entertainment, C3 Entertainment Inc.
Runtime: 92 minutes
Rated: PG (for some fantasy action and mild rude humor)
Directors: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Writers: Mike Cerrone, Bobby Farrelly
Starring: Sean Hayes, Chris Miamantapoulos, Will Sasso

I’m not alone in thinking that no one in their right mind would consider The Three Stooges a viable attempt at a remake for drawing out 2012-relevant humor. But apparently, those in their wrongs minds were in their right minds after all. The idea of a TV-into-movie remake of early 20th century slapstick should seem futile on the face of it (as well as unnecessary), but some thought it needful to resurrect our favorite stooges for a generation of iphone and Facebook users. And I’m so very glad they did!

Directors Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly (Hall Pass, 2011 and Me, Myself & Irene, 2000) selected a fine cast and catapulted them through space-time and into the 2000s with just the right balance of nostalgia and newness. It’s a good thing, too, since any little imbalance would have been like matter mixed with antimatter. Add in the fact that Stooge humor is not for everyone and it’s even more amazing that this film did as well as it did.

We meet the laugh-out-loud litter of three as they are dropped off at a local orphanage and taken in by the lovely sisters who will care for these—the most unwanted of children. We soon find them grown, having spent their childhoods under the nerve-tearing frustration of the staff who look after them, when “Moe” (Chris Diamantopoulos – “Oliver Zarco” from CSI and “Rob Weiss” from 24), “Larry” (Sean Hayes – “Jack McFarland” from Will and Grace), and “Curly” (Will “Mad TV” Sasso) are out on their own in an effort to save the old orphanage. They soon cross paths with old friend and former orphan, “Teddy” (Kirby Heyborne), and from there, manage to walk headlong into a plot involving betrayal and murder.

In an effort to save the orphanage and their friend, the stooges are launched into a generation they know nothing about, but that won’t stop them from proving that even Hollywood execs have something to learn from these most antisocial of head-knockers who know how to stumble onto something good when all is said and done.

Once we accept that the three stooges have indeed been transformed into 2012-worthy material (and in color), it is then that we walk into an old-fashioned good time with just enough of an original likeness to take us back, way back!

The viewing experience may seem brainless, but being able to enjoy this movie wasn’t foolproof. You might think it couldn’t have failed, but of course, it could have by overdoing the slapstick. But instead, the film gets nearly everything right, and with nice character adoption combined with swift pacing to make viewers believe that they are watching the actual stooges (if only for its brief hour-and-a-half).

With as much as the film lacks in all the things good movies are traditionally known for – and as much as it has in terms of unworkable humor from the first half of the last century and typical movie clichés that would normally cause us to draw back in eye-rolling dismissal – it is pushed through by the fact that the film’s simplicity allows it to be taken in by how closely it portrays its original material. Less is more here.

The movie is divided into 3 family-friendly chapters that begin like the old episodes did. And aside from leaving us missing a Shemp, it takes us back to those wonderful Sunday mornings where those of us who are old enough to remember would grab a bowl of Fruit Loops and plop ourselves on the couch for what would become some of the best times of our lives.

And if a 4-year-old with next to no attention span can halfway enjoy this today, you know that those of us who actually remember the stooges and loved their special contribution to slapstick will not be left out.

But reminding us that this is not, in fact, the early 20th century, at the film's end, we are given a courtesy reminder by the Farrelly brothers to avoid hitting one another in the heads with real mallets and hammers because that would hurt people. Well, we had to see the generation gap come in somewhere. Why not here? Nobody wants to be sued.