Movie Review: The Three Stooges- With the Help of the Actors Nailing the Physical Choreography it Avoids Being a Complete Disaster But Still is a Farrelly Brothers Staple of Bad Comedy

For some reason the comedy team of Peter and Bobby Farrelly keep getting work despite being associated with some of the worst displays of modern comedy to date, such as The Ringer, Fever Pitch, Shallow Hal, and the unforgivable Stuck on You. Yet people forgive these string of errors because of their earlier works including There’s Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber, which most people have listed as guilty pleasures. When the inconsistent comedic duo were linked to an inevitable, yet feared, modern adaptation of the beloved Three Stooges it seemed like a complete disaster from the start. From the announcement to the first trailer it just seemed that this misplaced, miscast, and mislead film would be doomed to the unfunny pages of movie history. However, that perceived conclusion was surprisingly not the case. The film adaptation of The Three Stooges isn’t necessarily unfunny but it certainly is poorly paced and lacks a great deal of legitimate filler in between the more silly and asinine parts that drive the core of this revival of slapstick comedy. Considering the Farrelly brothers’ track record it is certainly a surprise that they have in fact made a comedy that stays true to the original Three Stooges persona and delivery. But slapstick comedy can only get you so far and in the long run the new film The Three Stooges feels strained for content, a little too light in story (though that is expected), and feels a tad one note in comparison to other silly comedies such as Airplane!, The Naked Gun, or even Hot Fuzz (this one has just some silly elements). What can really be said is that it was a surprise that The Three Stooges wasn’t a complete disaster mostly due to the help of the odd casting but ultimately becomes repetitive, childish, and silly without any grasp of wit, which is to say the film is more of an accurate adaptation of the original Stooges than we could have thought.

What was so odd about the proposed remake was the casting for Larry, Curly, and Moe (sorry, Curly Joe was left out this adaptation), which consisted of has been actor Sean Hayes, forgotten comedian Will Sasso, and relative newcomer Chris Diamantopoulos respectively. Judging from the trailers it seemed they were mere caricatures of the slightly memorable antics and personas of the original Three Stooges rather than legitimate reinterpretation. The outcome is an interesting mixture of caricature when it seems more referential and legitimate interpretation when it relates to more modern situations. Their acting is close to just being imitation but that is the appeal of their delivery throughout the film. If you’re a fan of the outrageous antics of the Stooges or their intriguing use of slapstick choreography, all three of the actors do a commendable job at replicating the tone and feel of the original Stooges. But that is where the commending ends and the criticisms begin. As the slapstick antics continuously take center stage throughout the film it simply reminds us why the Three Stooges were better off in shorter doses rather than a modern feature length film. A longer film requires even some minor depth to the story if the film is to grab your attention the entire way through. Unfortunately the Farrelly brothers didn’t put much thought into the overall story, not that they really needed to in order to keep faith with the original Stooges. However, it really does help with modern comedies if there is a point to the story being told, which in this case there just is none.

Some people might think that a Three Stooges remake is unwarranted and might just be too archaic in its delivery of comedy that is solely based on physical choreography and dimwittedness. But if one were to peruse the standards of modern comedy films they wouldn’t find much evidence of evolution beyond vulgarity or a lot of modern vaudevillian physical antics such as in the ridiculously popular Jackass franchise (which is to say untalented people getting attention in the most abusive of ways). To give credit where it is due, all three actors in the remake The Three Stooges learn the physical choreography that is essential to the delivery of comedy very well. However, this type of comedy is simply not good enough to carry an entire film and judging from the script the Farrelly brothers sort of knew this fact. Throughout the rest of the movie there are filler moments of comedy that utilize other forms such as exaggerated verbal cruelty, playful twisting of words, and pop culture references. Not everything works, actually a lot of it doesn’t work, and results in a very slow comedy experience that only has a few memorable moments, such as Larry David in an over the top performance as a nun. There has always been a split between fans of olden day’s comedy into two groups, those who prefer the Marx Brothers and those who prefer the Stooges. What can be said about this rift is that even if you prefer the Marx Brothers you still might be pleasantly surprised with the Farrelly Brothers’ take on the physical comedy and those who were definite fans will see that it is a nice tribute. But tributes are best suited for online short form videos and not feature length movies, which is definitely the case here for The Three Stooges.

What is truly surprising is that The Three Stooges isn’t a comedic disaster much like the Farrelly Brothers other works, which were mentioned earlier. At its most basic level of expected entertainment the three actors chosen to portray and imitate the Stooges deliver that brand of physical choreography that people have loved so much and is commendable in the long run. However, avoiding disaster isn’t necessarily a success and the overall comedy experience in The Three Stooges feels a bit strained and also feels as though it is trying too hard. That feeling only comes from moments in between the physical antics while you also begin to feel tired of the repetitive nature involved in the physical comedy. There are moments of inspired slapstick comedy that will indulge your nostalgia and can be a lot of fun for kids (with a warning at the end of the film not to engage in such behavior). Some might be questioning why this review isn’t eviscerating the Farrelly Brothers for something they perceived as so foul and the reason is because when you’re expecting the end of the world and you just happen to get a slap in the face you begin to feel a bit thankful. To summarize this overly long pondering on comedy The Three Stooges is actually funny in parts, at least funnier than most Adam Sandler films, but lacks the long run foresight to be something more, which might be an appropriate criticism for the actual Stooges.

Grade: C-

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