My take on…the Farrelly Brothers’ Three Stooges

My take on…the Farrelly Brothers’ Three Stooges

The Three Stooges

I tried to set my expectations low enough, I really did.

Let’s get this out of the way first: I am a Three Stooges fan.

I would guess I’ve seen every one of the shorts more than once, and the features (yes, they made features).

I would have thought I might be the target audience for this movie, or at least one of them.

Let me say something good first: Sean Hayes was great as Larry! I’d been worried about the casting of Larry since the beginning: that’s the most difficult part.

When it looked like it would be Sean Penn, I thought that was an interesting choice. I wouldn’t have thought of Sean Hayes, but clearly, the star (who has previously played Jerry Lewis) worked hard on this and hit the porcupine on the head, so to speak.

The other two Stooges were reasonably evocative of the originals: Will Sasso as Curly and Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe.

In fact, the whole movie was clearly made by fans of the originals. We had a little singing (Stooge fans sing along: “Curly’s a dope!”), a lot of slapstick, and even updated punning wordplay that fit in with the original style…a pun about poodles comes to mind in particular.

The problem was, for me, the movie just wasn’t funny.

I think the issue was that the Farrellys were trying to make the Stooges the undeniable stars…and that they were trying to put them into our world.

They cast some hilarious people, but then seemed to tell them to largely play it straight. Jane Lynch’s Mother Superior was actually beatific. Sofia Vergara could have been really vampy, but didn’t play it that way.

Then there were non-comedians: what was Jennifer Hudson doing there? If she wanted to stretch and show a flair for comedy…um, it was played very seriously.

Having the Stooges interact with real (or at least, reality) people was a mistake. Having a murder for hire plot was simply over the line.

The Stooges didn’t exist in our world in the shorts. The other characters were extreme, too. Emil Sitka was great at extreme responses, and the rich folks were clearly parodies.

Yes, I’d say that was the biggest problem..they just didn’t go for the fun. The Stooges feel out of place if you could bump into them at Starbucks or see them interviewed on Entertainment Tonight.

Now, I do need to say: there were people laughing in the audience. They were enjoying the slapstick. My guess is that they generally weren’t fans of the Stooges. Before we assume that’s the only reason I wasn’t bowl(cut)ed over, I should mention that my Significant Other is nothing close to a Stooge fan…and didn’t like it either.

I do commend the Farrellys (and co-screenwriter Mike Cerrone) for wanting to be respectful to the original…I just wished they’d also relaxed and cut loose with the other characters more.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

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