The Three Stooges: The Farrelly brothers' tribute to vaudeville stars Moe, Larry and Curly is as clever as a poke in the eye
00:13 GMT, 24 August 2012
THE THREE STOOGES (12)
Verdict: Surprisingly entertaining
Peter and Bobby Farrelly’s career began sensationally with There’s Something About Mary and Dumb And Dumber. Their last movie, Hall Pass, was their lowest point — so vile that it called into question whether they would ever make another film.
But they have, and The Three Stooges is a thoroughly professional, amiable tribute to Moe, Larry and Curly, the lowbrow comedy clowns who came up through vaudeville and made a series of hit shorts during the Thirties, with a repertoire of insults, eye pokes and nose pulls.
If the Marx Brothers were the Beatles of their era, the Three Stooges were Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich.
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Goons: The Three Stooges played by Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes and Will Sasso get charmingly physical
The Farrellys have grafted the original comedians’ flair for slapstick on to a serviceably preposterous plot — last used in The Blues Brothers — about three idiots trying to save the orphanage they grew up in, by raising $850,000.
They try to accomplish this, with few concessions to plausibility, by hiring themselves out as hitmen to a sultry Hispanic beauty (Sofia Vergera) who wishes to murder her rich husband. There are some dreadful puns, the knockabout humour tends towards the sadistic, and some people will manage to watch the entire thing without cracking a smile.
But I found myself warming to the crazy bravado of the enterprise. Larry David has a fine time as the most vicious of the nuns in the orphanage, Sister Mary-Mengele.
When this movie was first announced, Moe, Larry and Curly were going to be played by Benicio del Toro, Sean Penn and Jim Carrey. They’ve all fallen by the wayside, and I suspect that’s for the best.
The three more-or-less unknowns who impersonate the Three Stooges — Chris Diamantopoulos (Moe), Sean Hayes (Larry) and Will Sasso (Curly) — really inhabit their characters and demonstrate a flair for physical comedy that only Carrey of the original trio might have been able to pull off.
I chuckled rather than laughed, but I admired the leading actors’ timing and nimbleness as they yanked each other’s tongues and hit each other with planks.
As with the Muppets film earlier in the year, it’s obvious that the film-makers have genuine respect and affection for the originals.
I wouldn’t make any claims for this as art — or even as top-flight entertainment — but it achieves what it set out to do: pay tribute. And I was entertained.
Best of all, despite the sentimental plot about saving the orphanage, the three boys never learn any life lessons. They’re just as hopelessly violent, bad-tempered and stupid at the end as they were at the beginning. These days, that’s refreshingly anarchic.
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