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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
Note: Last week, Nick did a fantastic write-up on The Three Stooges right here on this very website! Check it out here.
I did not expect to go see The Three Stooges this weekend. I wasn’t really sure if I was going to go see it at all. But I had a coupon for a free popcorn and soda, and tickets were only $4, so I decided to pack up my gear and venture out to the theaters for a viewing. I’m glad I did, because the Farrelly brothers’ The Three Stooges was a ton of fun, and a pretty decent film-going experience over all. One of the most noticeable aspects of the new film is the level of respect and honor the Farrelly’s brought to this movie. There are plenty of homages to the past shorts for one. From the way the stooges snore in concert with one another, to the bang-zoom-pow sound effects, to the distinct mannerisms of the titular characters, the film is pretty clearly in many ways a love letter to the vaudevillian act of the original three.
The film begins at an orphanage, documenting the trials and tribulations of the children stooges. Moe is eventually adopted by a rich couple, but does not want to leave without his friends, so another boy is adopted in his stead. The trio grows up as a part of the orphanage, “working” odd jobs for the Sisters and “helping” with the younger children and such. When the orphanage is threatened with foreclosure, the stooges venture off into the world to raise enough money to keep their home open and running and save the children and the Sisters, who they see as friends, mother figures, and even primary caretakers.
The casting obviously helps out a ton here. Chris Diamontopolous, best known for his role on the action television program 24, and Will Sasso, best known for his work on Fox’s Mad TV, are perfectly cast as Moe and Curly respectively. I did not expect to like Diamontopolous’ Moe all that much because he’s such an unknown actor to me, but I ended up loving his work. He got Moe’s mannerisms and look down pat, from being the ostensible leader, to the fishbowl haircut, to the “C’mere you chowdahead!” sayings and accent. Sasso is just perfect as Curly; honestly casting here gets an A+. Sasso’s Curly is the film’s secret weapon. The original Curly, one of the most beloved but also simultaneously overlooked and underrated comic geniuses in American cinema history, would no doubt approve of Sasso’s impressions. Everything from the “Woo! Woo!” to the dogbarking to the “Soitenly!” are present, and all are welcomed and lovable. Sean Hayes is the weak link here, but his Larry Fine is passable. He just doesn’t get the love that Moe and Curly do in the film.
The supporting cast ranges from ok to a mixed bag. I personally found Larry David’s Sister Mary to be hilarious (and having him in drag is another homage to the original shorts). Jane Lynch is also fine as the Mother Superior, but she gets little screen time (as does a perfectly fine Jennifer Hudson, who should really be getting more work as she is beautiful and talented as they come). Sofia Vergera is more of a liability, however; her acting is ok, but her character is severely under-developed. I’m sure there was a ton of internet bitching about the cast of Jersey Shore being involved, but honestly their presence does not distract from the film at all, and is even quite funny in the short bits they’re on-screen. It also helps that it makes good sense why they’re even in the film.
The film is not without its structural weaknesses however. I like how the film is divided up into chapters, but there’s really only a few of them and they seem to be somewhat randomly placed. I also didn’t particularly care for the parts in the beginning where the stooges were still children, and because of this I felt they dragged on just a bit. Really, any part of the film featuring primarily child actors had the potential to be a bit cringe-worthy, but because this is a movie primarily made for kids (see: the PG rating), I’m willing to be somewhat forgiving of that. The ending also comes off as a bit weird and disjointed for reasons I can’t really put my finger on.
The Three Stooges is a pretty light-and-breezy fun time, and I’d totally be up for a re-viewing at home. It’s something I’d like to sit down and watch side-by-side with some of the old shorts just to find more homages and similarities. I had a pretty fun time watching this film and I recommend it to any Stooge fan out there. It’s a respectful adaptation of a true American comedy classic series.