The Three Stooges review

The Three Stooges has been pushed with some quite terrible trailers. But the final film is really quite good...

One day at the Sisters of Mercy orphanage, a speeding car blaring Roadrunner by the Modern Lovers tosses out a duffel bag. When Sister Mary-Mengele (Larry David) opens the bag up, she gets a pair of fingers into the eye. Inside that bag would be three babies. One has a bowl cut. One has a frizzy balding Afro. The other is bald. Enter the Three Stooges: Larry (Sean Hayes), Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos), and Curly (Will Sasso).

The film tracks the Stooges through three stages of their life, starting with their young days at the orphanage, then later as they try to raise the money needed to save it. Along the way the boys live in a dumpster, get involved in a murder plot, and somehow become reality television stars. Three dimwits with a casual disregard for their own health, an uncanny ability to absorb violence, and no fear of being foolish in public? Yeah, they’re perfect for reality television. 

If you like the original work of the Three Stooges, and if you like the Farrelly Brothers, then you’ll probably really enjoy the big-screen version of the Stooges. It has a lot of the classic Stooge set pieces, the quick back-and-forth combination of physical comedy and verbal comedy that the brothers Howard and Larry Fine excelled at, with a little touch of Farrelly toilet humor (in a few scenes; not often and not obtrusive).

Physically, the actors do a great job at impersonating the Stooges. Chris Diamantopoulos is quite possibly the best Moe they could have dug up. A lot of it is the soup bowl wig, but more of it is his body language. He nails Moe’s mannerisms, his verbal delivery, and even his facial expressions. It’s really quite brilliant, all things considered.

Ad – content continues below

Ditto Will Sasso, who takes on Curly. Not only does he resemble Curly physically and get all of Curly’s classic expressions, verbal tics, and mannerisms, the costume department actually dresses Will Sasso like Curly, right down to the too-tight suit jackets, shirts, and high-water pants. Sean Hayes’s take on Larry is also quality, but Larry isn’t as tough to pull off as a good Moe or Curly; Larry is the reactor, not the agent.

Aside from the Stooges, the side characters are also pretty well done. The stand out is, of course, Larry David. He plays the main thorn in the Stooges’ side in the first short, Sister Mary-Mengele. It’s tough to steal a scene from a Stooge, but if anyone is capable of doing that, it’s him. This character plays perfectly to his strength and lets him be a wonderfully cranky buzz-kill and foil for the well-meaning but dumb Stooges. It’s weird to see Jane Lynch playing a kindly role, especially considering how good she is at playing mean.

However, the movie isn’t mean. The Three Stooges were always kind, perhaps not to one another, but certainly to other people. The script, from the Farrellys and Mike Cerrone, is full of sweetly maudlin moments, perhaps too many. When you try to provoke feelings too often, the scenes that need a real punch can be dulled by plucking the heart strings too often. The overall plot reminds me a lot of The Blues Brothers (whose slapstick elements always reminded me of… The Three Stooges, thus bringing everything full circle), what with the saving of the orphanage and raising money and randomly breaking into music/songs. It’s a thin plot, but it’s plot enough.

The true intelligent decision by the Farrellys was to break the movie up into three parts. The Stooges work best in shorts, and to have the movie presented in three ‘shorts’ helps keep the story moving without bogging down in details. The camera is static, but there’s a nice flow and the Stooges end up in some great situations for their comedy of violence. The short thing is mostly psychological, but it works.

The Three Stooges, for the most part, feels right. It doesn’t try too hard to modernize the Stooges, it simply presents them as they are: characters who could fit in just about any world or in any time. The Stooges’ antics are universal. All the iPhones and Jersey Shores in the world can’t change the chuckles that come from watching three grown men hilariously pummel Brian Doyle-Murray.

Ad – content continues below

US Correspondent Ron Hogan was glad to see that The Three Stooges was basically a Three Stooges mini-marathon. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

Follow our Twitter feed for faster news and bad jokes right here. And be our Facebook chum here


3 out of 5