“Like Moses in the desert, I believe the Lord will guide them. Because they’re pure of heart.”
All the way back in 1994, Peter and Bobby Farrelly made Dumb and Dumber, one of the funniest comedies to come out in my lifetime. They filled out an amazing trifecta with Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary. Then came a whole lot of years of hit (Me, Myself and Irene) and miss (pretty much everything else on their filmography). When it was announced a few years ago that the Farrellies had made a Three Stooges movie, it sounded like they had really hit rock bottom. As a kid, I found the Stooges annoying, as an adult, they’re just painful. Funny has never been a word that came to mind. So why did I watch the Farrelly Brothers version of The Three Stooges? I don’t know.
Abandoned at an orphanage as babies, the stooges grow up to be Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos), Larry (Sean Hayes) and Curley (Will Sasso). Too dumb and destructive to ever be adopted, they’re still living at the orphanage as grown ass, middle aged men. And they will seemingly spend the rest of their lives there. That is, until local a priest played by Brian Doyle Murray lets the nuns running the orphanage (including Larry David, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson and Kate Upton) know that unless they can raise $830,000 in the next thirty days, they will be forced to close.
So now the Stooges are let loose on the world for the first time, as they set off to make the cash and save their childhood orphanage home. Or as it is otherwise known, The Blues Brothers. Gullible and in no way ready for life in the real world, they’re almost immediately caught up in a murderous plot by Lydia (Sofia Vergara) and Mac (Craig Bierko), who see the trio as the perfect fall guys in their scheme to kill Lydia’s husband and take his millions.
First off, let me just say that The Three Stooges is in no way a great movie. But it’s not as terrible as you probably assume. I’m no expert in the original trio, but to me, the actors playing them here do a great job of delivering their signature mannerisms, without it seeming like cheap imitations. They put enough of their own spin on Larry, Curly and Moe to make it more like original interpretations of these characters instead of mimicry.
The other thing The Three Stooges gets right is its vignette structure. Back in the day, they probably made shorts because you could only fit a five or 10 minutes of footage on reel, and that really worked for the style of comedy those dudes specialised in. These characters aren’t made for long story arcs, character growth and a three act beginning, middle and end. They’re made for quick fire joke and slapstick delivery. So while there’s a technically a story at the core of The Three Stooges, it’s really just a flimsy reason to get from one slapstick sketch to the next. The Farrellies even go so far as to insert title cards, breaking up the movie into three distinct and identified shorts.
The Three Stooges didn’t make me change my mind on these characters and all of a sudden get it, but it wasn’t a complete drag either. It’s only 90 minutes and there are enough jokes to keep it moving at a good enough pace that it never outstayed its welcome. And that’s about as a much enthusiasm as I can muster.