I finally got to see the new Three Stooges movie from the Farrelly Brothers. A week late, but still on the big screen. I am always happy to see a slapstick movie in the theater.
There have been a few previous attempts to recapture great character comedies. “Brain Donors” (1992) was a pathetic run at doing Marx Brother style comedy. And I recently watched the awful “Little Rascals” feature from 1994. The highlight of that was a cameo appearance by Donald Trump as the parent of the rich kid. Trump, being himself, succeeded, where all the other actors were pretending to be other people, and they failed. Great characters are nearly impossible to reproduce with out the original actors.
POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD.
The new Three Stooges, were… acceptable. Which is a success. Yes, I laughed. It wasn’t fall out of my seat funny, but there were plenty of good jokes, and they had the timing down pretty well. The most successful new Stooge, for me, was the young Moe, played by Skyler Gisondo during a short period in their back story. He wore the wig well, and had the right nervous energy and verbal delivery. They succeeded in pulling in all the old schtick, and then added in some fresh ideas. Times have changed, and the Farrelly’s did put their personal stamp on some of the material. The original Stooges wouldn’t have had a Catholic nun in a bikini, or a shot of a lions testicles, even if it did last less than a second.
The above shot wasn’t actually in the movie, and may be misleading in the content. So don’t look at it.
Where the movie worked really well was with new characters. Larry David was very funny as Sister Mary-Mengele. And I think my favorite part may have been Moe becoming a member of the Jersey Shore cast and continually slapping, poking and bonking Snookie and the other idiots from that show.
There were just a few instances of digital effects being used. One involved Curly climbing a wooden ladder with a running chainsaw. He clips it to his belt, and climbs the ladder with the chainsaw dangling below, cutting the rungs neatly down the middle. I thought that worked well. Later, the Stooges are tossed over a 15 foot high wall, and we see them fly over the top, hit the ground head first, and get up, all in one shot. Obvious digital double work. In the old days, it would have been three dummies going over the wall, and a quick cut to them getting up. The old style was funny, but these days audiences expect more, and I appreciated the effort to update it, just to see what it looked like. I do think they made an effort to make the flying bodies look somewhat like dummies, to fool the audience into expecting that. It was a way to add something fresh to the show.
Another fun effect involved Sister Mary-Mengele being strapped to a table for a dental procedure. When there is a knock on the door, they flip the table top over, and reveal a typical setting attached to what was the underside, including an open fish bowl that splashed water over the edge when it came around.
I applaud the PG rating, and was glad to take my 10 year old. A good portion of audience laughs were from the grown ups. The Farrellys kept the story light, and the action moving. I will probably watch it again on DVD.