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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Three Stooges - Review (2012)

Just the concept of a Three Stooges remake is enough to make some people groan as if Moe has their nose in a set of pliers, rightfully so.  To some, The Stooges are sacred territory, the pinnacle of comedy.  Sure, they are not for everybody, but those that like the Stooges, love the Stooges.   That may be why this film which had been in pre-production for years, nobody wanted to make it.  Originally pictured as a star vehicle starring Benicio Del Toro, Sean Penn and Jim Carrey - the Farrelly Brothers (Everybody Loves Mary, King Pin) finally settled for B/C list actors.  The end result is not terrible, yet not terribly funny film.

I must give credit to the Farrelly brothers, their love of the Stooges is present on screen.  They emulate the joke style, comic timing and violent humor almost to a tee.  The actors not only act, but do incredible imitations of the original Stooges.  But, imitation and admiration are not enough to validate the existence of this film.  When the film sticks close to the routines of the originals it seems like an unnecessary exercise in mimicry.  When it strays from the original and relies on fish out of water humor using modern day references, it lacks laughs and a reason to exist.  It is a no win situation.  

There are funny bits spread throughout the film, but even when the scenes are funny they don't know when to say when - carrying on much too long.  The Stooges are best enjoyed in short intervals, it was the medium they specialized in.  Even though they divide the film into several related "shorts" strung together into a film, it does not feel like anything more than an overlong short, stretched beyond its breaking point.  Larry David, Sofia Vegara, Jennifer Hudson and other celebrity cameos do nothing but detract from an already weak film.  There are some talented people involved, none are given anything to work with.  The roles would have been better filled with no name actors, not only would they not be distracting, they would also allow the Stooges to be the focus of the film.  I guess Hollywood knows what they are doing, this film did take in a paltry $44 million after 25 years in production hell.  I must admit the biggest surprise is that the inclusion of the Jersey Shore cast did not lower the bar all that much - they even are part of a laugh or two (okay, maybe a laugh and a half.)

Viewing this film was one of those things I felt I had to do, interested or not - I owe it to the people.  Like watching all of Adam Sandler films, this is not part of some sort of masochistic act.  The people are curious how these films are.  It is my job to absorb the pain for them and spit it out in review form.  Lucky for me, the pain from this film was not excruciating as it could have been thanks to the Farrelly brothers' love of the subject.  I give it 4.5 out of 10 stars. 

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