Sunday, April 15, 2012

Three Stooges Week: The Three Stooges (2012)

Given the reputation of Peter & Bobby Farrelly ("There's Something About Mary"), one had to approach their reboot of "The Three Stooges" with some trepidation. Contrary to earlier rumors, the Farrellys never intended on doing a biography of the comedy icons. That, after all, had been done in a made-for-TV movie a while back with Michael Chilkis (ex-The Shield, "Fantastic Four") as Curly. No, what they decided to do was create an entirely new legend. Then, the question became one of, was this trip really necessary?

"The Three Stooges" landed at 20th Century Fox, which was curious in and of itself, considering that the Stooges, before they launched their own production company in the 60's, had been with MGM & Columbia, and it stood to reason that those studios, which are now under the same roof, would've/should've had first crack. However, it was Fox that released "Mary" more than a decade ago, so that mystery is solved. I digress.

What the Farrellys did as a positive was create three chapters in the format of the classic shorts we all grew up with. What that does is open the possibility of having the film air as three half-hour episodes of a miniseries when it hits broadcast television within the next year or two. Otherwise, you run the risk of each "chapter" title card being edited off in the transition.

Now, on to the film. Larry, Moe, & Curly are abandoned by their folks (whom we never really see) at the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage. Sister Mary-Mengele (Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm) is greeted with an eye poke. Now, you'd never expect that from a toddler now, would you? Anyway, Mother Superior (Jane Lynch, Glee) and Sisters Rosemary (Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls") and Bernice (Sports Illustrated Swimsuit covergirl Kate Upton) take the boys in. Just when it looks like they're about to be adopted, they get separated instead----for all of about 5 minutes. Moe makes a request of his adoptive dad (Stephen Collins, ex-7th Heaven), and it leads to Moe being swapped for another little boy. Moe lies to Larry & Curly to cover himself, and so the boys remain in the orphanage........

Time passes, and, approaching middle age, the grown up Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos), Larry (Sean Hayes, ex-Will & Grace), & Curly (Will Sasso, ex-MadTV) are still the world's oldest orphans. The monsignor (Brian Doyle-Murray, ex-Saturday Night Live) arrives with bad news, but the guys mistakenly think he's harassing the nuns, and proceed to lay the smack down. The bad news? The orphanage is about to be shuttered unless they can raise some major cash within a month. Moe volunteers to do the fund raising, but of course, that leads to all sorts of calamity, including-----prepare to cringe---Moe having a falling out with Larry & Curly, especially after being reamed out by a suddenly assertive Larry. They leave, and Moe discovers that they weren't alone after all, but rather in a theatre that was housing auditions for a certain overexposed MTV reality show.

Meanwhile, the boys' childhood pal now works for his dad's law firm, but his wife (Sofia Vergara, Modern Family, "The Smurfs") and his best buddy (Craig Bierko) are plotting to kill him, and recruit the boys, who mistakenly try to off the buddy, thinking he's the spouse in question. However, in a classic case of bait & switch, it turns out someone else was the real brains behind the scheme, and it's for the predictable reasons.

Moe's interaction with the Jersey Shore crew came off as an excuse for the Farrellys to use Snooki, The Situation, et al, as fall guys, and exposing Shore for what it's become, a cash cow for the once-respected MTV. At least it came off better than when the Stooges showed up on Monday Night Raw to plug the movie, which was met with little cheer. Literally.

We knew going in that Diamantopoulos & Sasso had nailed their parts, but Sean Hayes, who inexplicably got top billing, probably because Will & Grace is more well known----and currently readily available on cable, as opposed to MadTV----was a question mark. It turns out he hit all the right notes with Larry, and had the best lines in the movie. Diamantopoulos was an unknown commodity, at least at this desk, but he captured the very essence of his character. The only mistake Will Sasso might've made with Curly was the fact that Jerome "Curly" Howard had a noticable limp when running. Whether this oversight was by design or not, I cannot say for certain. Factor in that Sasso is a bigger physical presence than even Curly was. I can't fathom why Larry David was cast. His role could've easily gone to a more abrasive female comic, like, say for example, Roseanne Barr or Rosie O'Donnell. However, his presence lends itself to a possible sequel as a recurring foil for the boys.

Here's a trailer:

Speaking of trailers, we saw a teaser for the sequel to "Despicable Me", due next year, plus the following:

"Dark Shadows". Tim Burton. Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, awakened in the early 70's, after the original series was cancelled. And it's being done for laughs. The Collinses aren't exactly the "Addams Family", so approach with caution.

More sequels to "Madagascar" & "Ice Age", plus "The Pirates: Band of Misfits", which has had a subtitle change since the first teaser came out last summer. Hmmmmm.

Will there be a "Three Stooges 2"? Maybe, but I wouldn't hold my breath just yet.

Rating: B-.

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