Sarah Knight Adamson is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and a voting member for the Critics Choice Awards for Movies.

Sarah Knight Adamson and Jessica Aymond are both Members of the Chicago Film Critics Association

Film Rating Code:

★★★★ Outstanding Film- Run, don’t walk to the nearest movie theater.

★★★½ Excellent Film- Highly recommend seeing the film in a movie theater.

★★★ Very Good Film- Recommend seeing the film in a movie theater.

★★½ Good Film- Wait for the DVD, the film is still worth viewing.

★★ Wait for the DVD and proceed with caution.

★½ Wait for the DVD the film has major problems in most areas.

★ Can’t recommend the film.

The Three Stooges (PG) ★★ ½

Albert (Jeremy Irvine) and his horse Joey are featured in this scene from DreamWorks Pictures'
Will Sasso (Curly), Chris Diamantopoulos (Moe) and Sean Hayes (Larry) resurrect “The Three Stooges.” Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

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Slapstick Reboot is a Slap in the Face

We all have that “child in us” no matter how old, able to revert back to the years when little mattered and we could get the biggest chuckle out of pratfalls, eye-pokes and hammers to the head.

In the latest work from the Farrelly brothers (“Dumb and Dumber,” 1994; “There’s Something About Mary,” 1998), Moe, Larry and Curly are resurrected in the reboot of “The Three Stooges.”  Even if you were not a fan of “The Three Stooges” short films on TV as a kid, you most likely know the basic premise of their story.  This foolish trio, who grew up together in an orphanage, was inseparable from day one.  They terrorized the nuns of a Catholic orphanage to their wits’ end – slapping faces, tweaking noses, fist punching the tops of heads and tearing out hair.  Their immature shenanigans are certainly on the opposite end of the spectrum compared to the recent raunchier comedies winning audiences over like “The Hangover” and “Harold and Kumar.”

The first half of the film is true to the original short films but once they leave the orphanage the story shifts in a different direction.  Chris Diamantopoulos (“24”), Sean Hayes (“Will and Grace”) and Will Sasso (“Less Than Perfect”) hit the hammer on the head in their portrayals of Moe, Larry and Curly, respectively. Their accents, facial expressions and mannerisms are right on the nose. Larry David makes for a pleasant surprise as Sister Mary-Mengele alongside the talented Jane Lynch as Mother Superior, another authoritative role like coach Sue Sylvester in “Glee.”  The original good-hearted, naïve persona of the Stooges carries throughout the film.

The target audience is very vague as the humor is PG but the crude “Jersey Shore” cast is strangely intertwined into the storyline adding a PG-13 element. Why would parents want to expose their children to such a degrading and unrealistic show? Comparing these classic comedic characters to reality TV stars sans talent is…well…“a slap in the face.”

The 92 minute film set in modern day is divided into three related episodes, the first presenting the restless knuckleheads popping out of a burlap bag on the steps of the orphanage. The second and third episodes flash forward 25 years, focusing on the financial struggles of the orphanage and the trio’s determination to somehow raise $830,000 to save the only home they’ve ever known. Although these segments reflected the TV shorts, the film still seemed too long as the slapstick became repetitive.

Some of the more subtle comedy was more entertaining while the in your face humor fell flat.  When Curly is handed an iPhone to snap a photo he held it up to his eye. This didn’t humor the 10-year-old in me; perhaps your children will feel differently, however. When the Stooges head to a law office building to speak to the father (Stephen Collins) who almost adopted Moe in hopes of receiving financial advice, the camera pans over names of the law firms, “Ditcher, Quick and Hyde” and “Kickham, Harter and Indagroine.”  This was my one memorable laugh out loud moment in the film, if that tells you anything.

Mop head Moe’s interactions with the “Jersey Shore” cast were more uncomfortable than amusing.  One may think the awkwardness from opposite walks of life would be entertaining but, in fact, it only highlights what we already know – the “Jersey Shore” cast cannot act to save their lives.  Sofia Vergara (“Modern Family”) plays the eye candy married to a powerful executive, much like her character in “The Smurfs.” Jennifer Hudson surprises us with her small part as the singing nun.

The film took over a decade to be made due to casting problems and financial troubles. At one point, Jim Carrey was cast to play Curly and gained 40 pounds for the role but dropped out because he didn’t want to jeopardize his health gaining another 30 pounds to look the part. Sean Penn and Benicio Del Toro were also originally cast as the other two Stooges. I guess it is a good thing they waited to create this film…

One positive that children can extract from this film is the overall message that illustrates the importance of the Stooges being happy with themselves and each other. At the very end (NO spoiler alert here) the Farrelly brothers demonstrate several pranks and stunts that were performed throughout to prove that they were fake but appeared real due to the added sound effects.  Children are asked not to perform these stunts at home. Parents will appreciate this disclaimer.

Bottom Line: The traditional slapstick pranks, irony and sound effects are in full gear.  A PG-13 rating would be more appropriate with the addition of the “Jersey Shore” cast. The Three Stooges’ uncanny appearances and performances deserve applause, but the film in its entirely does not. Wait for the DVD release if you are somewhat curious.

Cast: Sean Hayes (Larry), Will Sasso (Curly), Chris Diamantopoulos (Moe), Jane Lynch (Mother Superior), Sofia Vergara (Lydia), Jennifer Hudson (Sister Rosemary), Stephen Collins (Mr. Harter), Larry David (Sister Mary-Mengele)

Credits: Directed by: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly; Written by: Mike Cerrone, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Run Time: 92 minutes

Jessica Aymond © April 13, 2012

Posted in Movies 2012

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