The Three Stooges
dir Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
scr Mike Cerrone, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
prd Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Bradley Thomas, Charles B Wessler
with Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos, Will Sasso, Jane Lynch, Sofia Vergara, Larry David, Jennifer Hudson, Craig Bierko, Stephen Collins, Kirby Heyborne, Carly Craig, Kate Upton
release US 13.Apr.12, UK 22.Aug.12
12/US Fox 1h32
The Three Stooges
Knuckleheads: Sasso, Diamantopoulos and Hayes

lynch vergara hudson
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The Three Stooges It was always going to be difficult to balance the legacy of the wackiest comedy team in movie history with today's more cynical humour. But the Farrellys haven't really tried to do that, and despite a few high points their indulgence in inane slapstick feels rather tired.

Larry, Moe and Curly (Hayes, Diamantopoulos and Sasso) grew up together in an orphanage run by Mother Superior (Lynch) with help from the rather more flappable sisters Mary-Mengele (David) and Rosemary (Hudson). When the orphanage is threatened with closure, they head out into the big bad world to find the cash to save it. They're offered a job by rich wife Lydia (Vergara), who hires them to bump off her husband so she can run off with his business partner (Bierko). Of course, everything goes wrong in the zaniest ways possible.

Yes, the plot is eerily similar to The Blues Brothers, but where that film played on its deadpan humour and earnest soulfulness, this one is just a series of blows to the head and pokes in the eye. At least Hayes, Diamantopoulos and Sasso are strong enough actors to inject some interesting subtext into the characters, most notably an undercurrent of real affection.

But for filmmakers who are good at finding pathos in the most unlikely places, this film is more like a return to the vacuous idiocy of Dumb and Dumber than the more engagingly skilful There's Something About Mary. That said, it's also a remarkably faithful ode to the Three Stooges, recreating most of their memorable schtick with real attention to detail. And while it's set in the present, the central gag here is that this trio is still stuck in the 1930s.

The film is of course livened up by a series of starry side characters and cameos, and by far the funniest sequence involves the cast of Jersey Shore, who look even more hilariously idiotic when they're being out-witted by Moe. This section of the movie actually has something pointed to say about today's notion of comedy: the Stooges' violent chaos may seem both crude and stupid, but it's not nearly as cruel as reality TV.

cert pg themes, innuendo, violence 20.Jul.12

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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall