By: Addison Wylie
The lowbrow comedic team known as the Farrelly Brothers have always enjoyed slapstick humour and sight gags, so it’s no surprise to see these two directing and co-writing the modern adaptation of The Three Stooges.
It’s also a relief seeing these two minds work with basic, old fashioned jokes in a realistic runtime after seeing the duo make so many overlong bad-to-mediocre gross-out endeavours that do nothing but sling around naughty words and images. But, I suppose that’s what the extreme success of There’s Something About Mary would do to you.
With their latest comedy, the two are going “back to the well” and drawing from their previous, more cleaner expertise.
Other than building a history for Curly, Larry, and Moe, Peter and Bobby Farrelly aren’t looking to do anything new with these characters. Normally, this would be a bad thing but, because movie goers haven’t seen a movie rely strictly on slapstick humour for 90-some-odd minutes, this old school approach is what gives the film its juice.
The question is: does it work? A better question would be: is it funny? Yes, but not in the way one would immediately think of. The Three Stooges is never laugh-out-loud funny. At best, you might snicker here and there. It isn’t the fault of the directors or the script writer. It isn’t Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, and Chris Diamantopoulos’ fault either (the three who respectively play Larry, Curly, and Moe and do a great job).
It’s the fact that when a full length feature is putting its comedic trust in solely slapstick humour, the result doesn’t fare well. The audience can start predicting punchlines and, quite simply, it’s a type of humour that only works in small doses. When we watch this adaptation, we’re reminded that the reason original Three Stooges worked so well was because the programs were only 20 minutes in length.
The only modern day troupe who has been able to pull this off successfully has been the Jackass clan. Those dufuses are the exception because the rapid pacing and the nonexistent line-in-the-sand makes their show and their movies unpredictable and hilarious.
But, let’s get out of Comedy 101 and back to focusing on the movie. Even though the humour can’t fully support a feature length film, this big screen adaptation will have audiences constantly smiling. You’ll be impressed that the directorial team has the cojones to tackle a film such as this and you’ll be even more impressed with how well they’re pulling it off considering the hinders.
The deliveries of the sight gags are reminiscent to ones we saw in films like Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin. Now, this film is nowhere near the hilarious heights those two reach but for a clean-ish PG project, the Farrelly’s show that they still know how to tell filth free jokes.
The moments in the story that do misfire, we never consider bad. We just have a feeling that the directorial brothers (along with co-writer Mike Cerrone) could’ve made better decisions.
The plot is expected from a Three Stooges project. The three buffoons have been living in an orphanage all their lives and wait to be adopted. When the orphanage is in critical financial condition and need big money to stay afloat, the bumbling buddies set out to raise money. For old school gamers, this is a plot that we’ve seen before in The Three Stooges Nintendo video game. However, the story works because of how simple it is and how it can easily set the boys up for comedic situations.
That said, the situation they do get involved in could’ve been better. It involves a falsified murder involving a crooked wife (played by Sofia Vergara) and her husband’s best friend (played by Craig Bierko). It’s a story that is ridiculous from the word “go” and gets progressively more insane. And, it doesn’t help that the actors around the Stooges are either exaggerating each line and facial expression or are awkwardly shy around the camera.
As for a section of the film where Moe winds up on the reality show Jersey Shore, the jokes are going to please two groups of people. The people who watch the show religiously and the people who have been wanting to see the cast get pummelled.
The film makes it to the finish line by the skin of its teeth but it’s paced rather well. We’re never bored because we’re fascinated with how the filmmakers and the actors are somehow managing to pull through.
It’s felt as if the Farelly Brothers have been trying to find their groove for the past couple of years, but, watching The Three Stooges was like watching two lost and confused guys finally find out what they’re good at.
The Three Stooges isn’t horrible but it also isn’t very memorable. It serves as a great stepping stone for the directors and gives us movie goers enough confidence to see these two wacky Brothers take another stab at something similar to this.