For over 50 years, Steve Crum has written reviews and features for newspapers, magazines and websites, and appeared on radio and TV shows regarding entertainment media. In addition to his years of service on the Governing Board of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, his Crum on Film weekly column was awarded 1st Place in Kansas and Missouri newspapers via Kansas City Press Club/Heart of America journalism awards. Nearly 2,000 of his film reviews have been posted on Rotten Tomatoes.
Friday, April 13, 2012
New Stooges movie loaded with nyuks, nose tweaks, bone-head hilarity
By Steve Crum
Being a long time Three Stooges fan has both everything and nothing to do with enjoying the Farrelly Brothers risky comedy, The Three Stooges: The Movie. Referencing the former, there is a legion of Stooges fans, particularly the 50+ demographic like myself, who prejudge any attempt at Stooges imitation as Stooges denigration. One has to understand we hold these knuckleheads in high esteem.
From the mid-1950’s on TV, Curly, Larry, Moe (or sometimes Curly substitutes Shemp or Joe) were viewed on a daily basis. With great anticipation we watched them, after hurrying home from school to catch them and their "Three Blind Mice" opening theme every afternoon.
As for the “nothing to do” element, regarding today’s kids through the 20 and 30-somethings who possibly and incredibly have never seen or heard of the team, this feature film with actors playing the originals is another matter. Their historical reference points are the Jackass Movie (and TV shows), Jim Carrey, and Sacha Baron Cohen. Carrey even resembles Moe in Dumb and Dumber. Over the top physical comedy is definitely what The Three Stooges are all about as well. But will younger audiences take to them in clone form? I think they will, and big time. Speaking from an elder’s vantage point, the new Stooges movie is frequently hilarious. In fact, an imitation Three Stooges flick cannot possibly get any funnier than The Three Stooges: The Movie.
I laughed, and laughed...to my surprise. Seeing and hearing Larry David as a nun is worth the admission price. Peter and Bobby Farrelly once again take charge of a film as directors, producers and screenwriters, a leadership formula that has succeeded in their Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary hits. Bona fide fans of Three Stooges shorts and features made from the 1930’s-’60s, the brothers wisely decided to cast the most spot-on imitators possible: Sean Hayes (Larry), Will Sasso (Curly), and the multi-syllabic surnamed Chris Dramantopoulos as the singular Moe. Along with superb makeup and dominant sound effects/foley (by One Step Up), Curly, Larry and Moe seem reborn. I have always said that the Columbia Pictures sound effects department was responsible for half the Stooges’ success.
The Farrellys pay further homage by dividing the film into three, 24-minute sections, to resemble the original Columbia shorts. Each “episode’s” title echoes the originals as well, with pun laden silliness. Episode 3, for example, is "No Moe Mister Nice Guy."
Unlike the original shorts, however, the Farrellys continue the base story line from episode to episode. This is perhaps understandable, given the feature film format, but I would have preferred three unrelated stories. As it is, the element of pathos is slightly included, something absent from the Columbias. Oh yes, the plot thread involves saving a Catholic orphanage from being shut down, a grab from the story line in The Blues Brothers Movie. No criticism, just an observation.
Guest stars take part in the hitting, gouging, and falling down mayhem as well. Look for Glee’s Jane Lynch as the Mother Superior, Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara (as Lydia, a babe who is trying to snuff out her husband), Jennifer Hudson (another nun), and most riotously, Larry David’s Sister Mary-Mengele. Does that name have a twisted cross reference or what?! Then there are Snooki and her Jersey Shore gang, who are treated with deserved slaps by Moe and his gang.
The Farrellys are known for pushing the comedic envelope, and this Stooges movie is subject. A honk sound effect when Sofia Vergara’s breast is stooge-handled? Nyuk, nyuk, yes! Flatulence and crotch attack jokes? Check. A free-for-all, boy baby pee fight in a maternity ward? Funny as an eye gouge. (By the way, no pies are thrown in this movie.) Add it to typical Stooge sledge hammer/head bonks and chain saw assaults. As in the Stooges' classic shorts, it is all cartoonish, non bloody, scarless action.
The comedy of pain lives on. Just don’t try to analyze why.