There are just some things in life you should know well enough not to try. Deep-fried iced beverages. Jumping naked onto a rusty, worn bicycle that doesn’t have a seat. Bringing the slapstick antics of a long-gone-but-well-remembered vaudeville comedy group into contemporary times. Sadly, there’s always one schumck somewhere who is willing to undertake such a brainless act. In the case of The Three Stooges (2012), there are two schumcks behind this dim-witted cinematic sabotage: siblings Bobby and Peter Farrelly.
Yes, the same guys who made Kingpin and Dumb & Dumber somehow felt we needed a modernized spin on the timeless routines Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard (et al) perfected onstage and on-screen during the ’30s and ’40s. Their decision was a bad one, of course: it seems that, instead of paying any sort of real respect the real Three Stooges deserve, the Farrelly Brothers have simply found a way of making Larry, Moe, and Curly’s classic childish antics into barely sophomoric crude jokes.
Did we ever see the original Stooges literally engaging in a pissing contest, utilizing an entire ward of newborn babies as their source of endless ammunition? No, we sure as Hell did not. Would we have seen something like that happen if the Hayes Code hadn’t been around to prevent such a thing? The answer is still a big firm “No,” my friends — and that’s because even the laziest gag writer at Columbia would have had more class than that even if he were drunk off his keister on the first Friday night after Prohibition ended. Sadly, even the Farrelly Brothers are so immature that they cannot resist the urge to employ such juvenile toilet humor.
It gets far worse, people. The story here — which is divided into several chapters (akin to the old two-reelers of yesteryear) — finds Larry, Moe, and Curly dropped off at a Catholic orphanage (um, the Stooges were Jewish…?) as wee lads, growing up to become three incompetent maintenance guys at the facility because no one ever wanted to adopt the trio of terror. Moving out into the real world to raise money when the orphanage is on the verge of shutting down (yes, just like in The Blues Brothers), the boys meet up with an old pal (Kirby Heyborne) whose scheming wife (Sofía Vergara) is plotting to off along with her secret lover (a very embarrassed Craig Bierko).
At one point, the boys split, leaving Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos) to join the cast of Jersey Shore (because that surely will not date the film in any way) while Larry and Curly (Sean Hayes and Will Sasso, respectively) are left to their own devices.
Yes, that’s all the movie has to offer, story-wise. Gag-wise, the Farrellys jump at every chance to recreate the eye-pokings and face slappings many Stooge fans frequently attempt to incorporate into everyday life, tossing in a few of their own modifications (i.e. Larry receives a lobster down his pants, the familiar horn honking sound usually associated with a light blow to the head is employed when hands are laid on Ms. Vergara’s ample female bits, etc.). Jane Lynch (who should know better), Jennifer Hudson, Stephen Collins, Larry David, and Kate Upton are among the somewhat well-known faces who appear in this disaster.
The whole thing gets even weirder during a semi-faux PSA at the end of the film, wherein Antonio Sabato, Jr. and Justin Lopez appear as the Farrelly Brothers (flexing their pecs in the process), warning kids not to hit each other with hammers and saws. On the plus side of things, stars Hayes, Diamantopoulos, and Sasso do an excellent job of impersonating the real Larry, Moe, and Curly in both action and in voice. One cannot cite them for the time or effort they put into their performances — which makes the disappointment created by the film’s creators all the more dissatisfactory. It’s not like we needed modern-day Three Stooges to begin with, people, but this surely could have been better had someone adept at comedy in the first place made it.
It always seems fairly ironic to me that the absolute worst movies of today manage to get the better home video releases. In the case of The Three Stooges, Fox Home Entertainment brings us a 1080p presentation that is quite nice, considering how routinely flat the film’s color scheme is to begin with. Detail is fine all around (not Larry Fine, mind you), and there are no signs of debris or DNR to be found here. In short, there: bad movie, good transfer. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is a pretty grand one, bringing all those goofy Stooge sounds (culled straight from those old classic shorts) into your home, along with they pretty useless music score and contemporary soundtrack.
The irony of “bad movies having more cool stuff than is completely obligatory on video” thing continues with The Three Stooges‘ special features. Here, we get an assortment of deleted/extended scenes; several featurettes wherein the cast and crew discuss the making of the film (and try to reason its existence), the most interesting of which shows us the restoration of the sound effects used in the film; a pointless “Mash-Up” medley of slapstick scenes; a screen test; and, finally, a trailer. Way too much for such a terrible movie, in my opinion. But, c’est la vie, I guess.
In conclusion: The Three Stooges is more yuck-yuck-yuck than nyuk-nyuk-nyuk. Actually, it’s kind of scary to note that awful made-for-TV biopic Mel Gibson produced in 2000 was more appealing than this mess. Frankly, I’d rather strip my clothes off and jump onto a rusty and worn bicycle without a seat after scarfing down several deep-fried iced beverages than watch this piece of rubbish again.