First, about my history with the Stooges. I first discovered the boys at the tender age of 8. The short: Violent is the Word for Curly. I remember watching it vividly, as the boys did their best work as gas station attendents dishing out a bit of "SUPER SERVICE!" to unwitting customers. By the time the car exploded, I was a full blown Three Stooges fanatic. Since then, I've hunted down as much Stooges footage material as I could. I'd say I've done pretty well, even though trying to keep track of various television apperances is a daunting task.
Now the Farrelly Brothers probably have memories much like mine, maybe fonder. They have some interesting quotes of analysis of the boys that can be found on the internet. I have no doubt in my mind that they love the Stooges, especially since their work is littered with homages to them (the "throw salt over your right shoulder" bit from Dumb and Dumber was taken directly from of the Stooges earliest shorts, Beer & Pretzels). I don't really have much of an opinion on them, myself. Dumb and Dumber is a childhood favorite. And I've seen Osmosis Jones, Me, Myself, & Irene, Stuck On You at least once, and remember not hating them. The same cannot be said for There's Something About Mary and Shallow Hal, which I despised. The latter particularly, which betrayed its own moral of "inner beauty" by constantly reminding us how supposedly hilarious ugly people are.
When I first heard they were trying to do a Three Stooges movie about a decade ago. It took so long to materialize that I honestly didn't think it would ever happen. The film went through various studios, many of which have history with the group: Columbia, Warner Brothers, MGM. Finally the film landed at 20th Century Fox, the same studio that gave the group their start in films way back in 1930. The Stooges returned to the womb!
It takes passion to see a film through a decade of developement hell. For that, the Farelly Brothers are to be commended. They have balls and patience, I'll give them that much. But the ultimate question needs to be asked, was it worth it?
Or better yet, is the film a labor of love or a crime of passion?
Well, I've seen the film. I tried to talk myself out of it, but I'm too big of a Three Stooges fan to NOT see it. Of course, the Stooges died in 1975 with Larry Fine and Moe Howard. These are just imitations, not the real Stooges. No matter how good that imitation could be could possibly change that. Therefor I have long since accepted it could never be a part of the Stooges' legacy.
I tried to look at it as what it was, a studio distributed fan film made as a love letter. I don't think the Farrellys care if it's successful or not, they just wanted to make it.
As a long time Three Stooges fan, my opinion is...it's not horrible. It's far from the best thing stamped with the Three Stooges brand, but it isn't close to being the worst either. Let's face it, compared to the other Stooge films Fox has under their label, Soup to Nuts and Snow White and the Three Stooges, one could easily make an arguement as to why the Farrellys film is the best.
The film is divided into three segments with their own titles (I don't remember any of them except "The Bananas Split"), which is a cute reference to the Stooges Columbia shorts. However, the story is too linear for the segments to ever really feel their own entity. If I had to pick a clear superior segment, it would easily be the second. The Stooges always worked best when they were tearing through a serious situation like a tornado, and that's the closest it ever got to it. The other two segments were too self aware, which kind of kills the humor of it. The first segment mostly relied on three child actors playing Moe, Larry, and Curly and they ham it up like there was no tomorrow. The third drops Moe into a rather ill-advised reality show and lets him loose on the cast of Jersey Shore. I hate the hell out of Jersey Shore and would love to see Moe beat the crap out of these people, but the fact that they're clearly in on the joke spoils the fun.
I can see that the Farrelly brothers did try furiously to find the right story to feature the boys, and I think they settled on a decent one. They wisely used a story that showcased their sympathetic side and not their selfish side. Thia allows us to root for the Stooges as characters as they try to save their own orphanage from shutting down. This leads up to a boil down where Larry and Curly tire of Moe's abuse and the trio split up. This is told very well, and it keeps with the characterizations Stooge fans know and love without departing from them. In the end, the trio discover they belong together. They always have, and they always will. To this I say bravo. The Farrellys got this absolutely right. This has always been what I've loved most about the Stooges, they always depended on each other. I mean, who else would tolorate them? Nobody!
But what of the Stooges themselves? Imitations. They're good imitations, but they never look lost in the roles like the classic boys. Maybe it's my hatred of both Will & Grace and MadTV speaking, though I'll admit neither Sean Hayes or Will Sasso bothered me. Chris Diamontopolous was a stand out. He had quite a bit of Moe in him. These actors were helped by the excelent wordplay that the Farrellys crafted for their film, a lot of which I can easily hear the originals saying many of these lines. Their framing of the slapstick is very much the the tradition of the classic shorts, as well.
But while the Farrellys write the dialogue with the Stooge pizazz required, they do fail when trying to infuse their own style into the movie. I understand letting your movie have your oun personality, however the Stooges had more class than to use urine and fart jokes.
Yes I said the Three Stooges had class. Ignorant naysayers be damned.
There isn't all that much effort to let their own sense of humor blend in with the Stooges, and these sequences stand out like a sore thumb. They become flat out embarassing to watch. Are they all bad? I suppose not. I commend the Farrellys for answering the age old question of the Stooge world: if a man stepped on a woman's breast, does it make a honking noise? The answer is yes. Foreplay must be a lot of fun in Stoogelore.
At the end of the movie, I felt exhausted. I needed to digest what I'd seen, because I kind of liked it, though I knew I should have hated it. Like I said before, I think the proper frame of mind helps. If you walk in determined to hate it, you're definitely going to. But that's the most ignorant form of film watching, so that's your own damn fault. If you're expecting to love it, you're probably going to be disappointed. It's not that good, but it's not that bad. If you're open to a slapstick ride the Farrellys want to take you on, you'll probably get the most out of it.
One final note: the children sitting behind me LOVED this movie. It occured to me that they'll take the next step and look into the classics, and since the new one isn't so far removed from them, I don't think they'll be disappointed in them (unless they have a thing against black and white). As far as reintroducing the legacy of the boys to a new generation, I say "mission accomplished."
Legion1979 wrote:Oh yes, thank you for linking to a page with nothing but Japanese text. That was so damn helpful.
Brody wrote:I don't approve of any kind of sex that involves male genitalia