The Three Stooges

2012, PG, 92 min. Directed by Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly. Starring Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos, Jane Lynch, Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Hudson, Larry David, Kirby Heyborne, Brain Doyle Murray.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., April 13, 2012

When I was a young boy, my father and I would wake up every Saturday morning to watch three hours of the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, and the Little Rascals on our cranky old Zenith television. Still a good five years before the arrival of cable TV, our set was a three-channel wonder, replete with tin foil-covered rabbit ears and even tinnier sound. Reception was iffy depending on the weather, but for me Saturday mornings were magic, a Cocoa Puffs-flavored whirlwind of pratfalls and eye pokes and piano disasters with my pop.

I'm glad to have those memories now that I'm older, but it pains me to have to say that this Farrelly brothers reboot of the comically violent, childlike Stooges – Moe (Diamontopoulos), Larry (Hayes), and Curly (Sasso) – is a work of near-existential pointlessness. It's true to the anarchic, silly spirit of the original clowning, but there's very little else to it (even the threadbare plot is cribbed from the The Blues Brothers. It's painful to watch, and not in the boink! "My eye, you nitwit!" kind of way. Reportedly, various versions of the script have been floating around for ages, and although I rarely go so far as to say a film simply shouldn't have been given the green light, that's exactly the case here.

All three leads are adequate, but the simple attempt to re-create the madcap aura of the original Stooges’ brotherly sadomasochism is doomed from the get-go. Larry David raises a few chuckles as a bitter nun, Sister Mary Mengele (!), but that's not even a Stooge-derived gag. The entire production, from its bizarre, episodic structure to the jaw-dropping, WTF?! postscript in which the Farrelly brothers take to the screen to warn young audience members not to attempt to put each others eyes out (thus pre-empting Jackass-style lawsuits, one assumes), is as depressing as the Stooges’ real-life stories. And that, frankly, would have made for a far better – and grimly hilarious – movie.

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The Three Stooges, Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly, Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos, Jane Lynch, Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Hudson, Larry David, Kirby Heyborne, Brain Doyle Murray

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