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The Three Stooges

Did we really need a new 3 Stooges movie? Wasn’t this kind of thing attempted with a derided Laurel & Hardy incarnation a decade or so ago? Can Abbott and Costello be far behind? In fairness, the Stooges probably lend themselves to imitation much more comfortably than the aforementioned duos. Is there any 40ish male fan that hasn’t attempted his very own “Curly” impersonation? I’ll show you mine, if you’ll show me yours. And the irascible “Moe” with his bowl haircut…I can recall quite a few stabs at that iconography as well. Larry Fine—that one is a bit more slippery…which makes Sean Hayes’ performance particularly impressive. In other words—he’s a fine Fine. And noted celebrity mimic(recalling his telefilm Robin Williams from a few years back), Chris Diamantopoulus, manages to recreate a mostly exacting Moe(whyyy, you!). And while I enjoyed comic Will Sasso’s spirited attempt to mine gold from the ghost of Curly Howard, it solidified for me just how much of a marvelous original the actual Curly was. Decades after his untimely death, his prowess should be unashamedly mentioned in the same breath as Stan Laurel and Harpo Marx. At the very least, the trio of actors that embody the visages of those daffy “boys” of the celebrated 1940’s and 50’s shorts, prove far more inspiring than the initially announced cast of Sean Penn as Larry, Jim Carrey as Curly and Benicio del Toro as Moe. That intended(and thankfully folded)project promised a disaster from the get-go.               Although it’s scripted and edited to be an homage to the original short films, the central plotline focuses on the efforts of the boys to save their orphanage from foreclosure by somehow raising 830,000 in one month. In “episode” 1 of the movie we witness the infant trio being left on the steps of the orphanage. Then we fast forward ten years later to their perpetual idiocy and hijinks driving the home’s nuns bonkers. Finally, Moe gets adopted—and sabotages it in ten minutes time. Later(during “episode” 2 & 3), the now adult Stooges, still living at the orphanage, get wind of the home’s financial straits and set out to try to rescue it. Among other things, this leads to the guys failing at a venture of selling “farm-raised” salmon(sans a body of water for the fish to survive in), and Moe eventually breaking off from the group and inexplicably being cast in the new season of “Jersey Shore”(a convoluted device that yields an occasional chuckle). The morons are also semi-innocently recruited to “knock off” a knockout’s(Sofia Vergara)husband—who turns out to be a former pal from the orphanage.              Given the Farrelly brothers raunchy reputation, it is somewhat surprising to discover just how family oriented most of this material is. I mean these are the directors that graced us with the semen-treated hair and zipped-over testicles of “There’s Something About Mary”. That being noted, I would be fibbing if I claimed that a brief Stooges bit involving a lion’s testicles, didn’t have me doubled over in hysterics while hitting the pause and rewind buttons to run it multiple times. That shot is more Farrelly than Stooge…but it is hilarious in the basest of ways. Overall, this is a hit-or-miss affair that is sporadically funny, and also a touching homage. Lots of eye-pokes and face-slaps, as expected—mixed with the penis and flatulence humor prevalent of our current cinema. Hey, you’ll also get comedienne Jane Lynch and Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson cast as “sisters of the faith”. Larry David plays a nun too—which, I guess, sounded great on paper. “The Three Stooges” is a pleasant diversion that never aims very high. But still, it’s just high enough.                 Grade:  C+

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