Home Video Hovel- The Three Stooges, by Aaron Pinkston
The Three Stooges is a 92 minute live-action cartoon. There are sight gags and slapstick moments, one after another from start to finish. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Three Stooges contains the most “jokes per minute” of any film this year. As is to be expected, some of them work, some of them don’t, and the overall effect approaches suffocation, but this wasn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Hell, I’d even give it 2 and a half stars out of 5.
There isn’t much use describing a plot, because that’s not really what The Three Stooges is all about. Smartly, though, the film is broken up into three “episodes” — though there is a direct through-line in the film’s narrative. Obviously done to recreate old Stooges television shows, the segmentation helps alleviate the absolute wall of crazy antics. The trailer for the film is one we see every once in awhile, where you can’t help but ask “how is all this stuff in the actual film?” but the movie works out how to get the Stooges from an orphanage to high-class parties to hanging out with the Jersey Shore folks strangely without a problem. Even the most cynical viewer might enjoy seeing The Situation and Snooki feeling the wrath of Moe — they are actually pretty terrible in the film and deserve all the on-screen abuse they get.
You can’t talk about this film without discussing the three leads: Sean Hayes as Larry, Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe, and Will Sasso as Curly. With Benicio del Toro, Sean Penn, and Jim Carrey attached to the project when it was first announced, it’s fair to see the actual cast as second class. Still, any success you find in The Three Stooges is found in their three performances. The three actors commit so heavily to their roles, never bringing any excess attention to the fact that they are playing the Three Stooges in a modern day remake. None of the countless gags are done with their tongues in their cheeks, no matter how silly it gets.
The performances aren’t quite created equally, though, as two of the three are particular standouts. Sean Hayes is adequate as Larry, but I couldn’t quite get over the fact that it was Sean Hayes doing an impersonation of Larry. Will Sasso’s performance has the same problem, but he is so well-fit for the role and such a nice comedic talent (yeah, I used to watch Mad TV just for him). Diamantopoulos, a relative unknown, completely melts into Moe — perhaps it helps that I don’t recognize him from elsewhere, but my untrained eye doesn’t see much of a difference from the original Moe Howard. More important than the three individual performances is how well they work as a team. With so much slapstick routine and intricate knocking-on-heads and poking-of-eyes that needs perfect choreography, the team really has chemistry.
Directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly, this material was obviously some sort of passion project for the brother duo. No matter your reaction to the comedy thrust in your face, it’s a pretty good directorial effort, probably their best work since Stuck on You — yeah, I guess that’s not saying that much. I’m not a scholar of their work, but it manages to feel like one of their films, even as it is truly a Three Stooges production. The best of their films all had a slapstick vibe. Unfortunately, though, they all had a little something else to offer. Or maybe I just saw them when I was in 7th grade and didn’t realize they aren’t great films. Anyway, the gags are staged well with some actual stunt work and I’m willing to give some credit of the cast’s efforts to the directors.
If you take the plunge and buy the DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack you’ll find a number of special featurettes with even more crazy antics! First is 9 minutes of deleted and extended scenes which offer the exact same things already in the film, so I guess they must have all been tough cuts — then again, there is an electric eel gag that was a little too much, even for this film. Another featurette, labelled as a history of the Stooges, spends a few minutes with the Farrelly brothers looking directly into the camera, nearly yelling at us about why making a new Stooges movie makes complete sense. After this bout is a minorly interesting seven minutes filled with clips of the original gang at their finest laced between talking heads giving a brief overview of the whos and whats. Want to know how the added sound effects were added for the greatest effect? There’s a featurette for that. To end this review on a positive note, there is a featurette specifically on the best three things in the movie — Larry, Moe and Curly. Strangely (or not), there’s no mention of the tumultuous casting process the movie went through, but seeing test footage and learning about how these three became cast is certainly the only feature that made me feel like I gained something.