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Why the new Three Stooges film doesn’t make any sense

The new movie will not only irritate hardcore Stooge fans but it's also a bad creative decision.

I’m going to do something right now that goes against my usual rules. I’m going to review a movie I haven’t seen.

Actually, maybe “review” is the wrong word. I’m going to talk about a movie I haven’t seen, talk about the very idea of the movie existing in the first place. Yes, that’s better.

The movie is The Three Stooges, which opens today. It tells the story of how three guys named Moe, Larry, and Curly are dropped off at an orphanage, raised by nuns, and then as adults get into a wacky plot where they have to save the school and also get involved in a reality show.

This doesn’t make any sense. I could argue that it’s ridiculous to transport the Stooges to 2012 and also have the three of them dropped off at an orphanage together (Larry wasn’t related to Moe and Curly, though maybe this is explained in the film). Let’s forget both of those arguments and settle on the casting. They aren’t Moe, Larry, and Curly!

In his review of the film, Roger Ebert said he didn’t find it funny. He’s probably right. I haven’t seen the film and can’t comment directly (though the many clips I’ve seen are unfunny to a crazy extent). But I’m not sure Ebert understands why it’s not funny. Ebert never watched the shorts as a kid (somehow he missed them) and can’t compare them to the slapstick in the movie. But there’s another problem: in 2012, is it really funny for someone to poke someone in the eyes or shove donuts in their ears or hit them in the head with something heavy? Not really, unless it’s done very, very right (and even then …). But why would it be funny to see three fake Moe, Larry, and Curly characters just copying something that real people did in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s? When I say “real people,” I’m talking about who Moe, Larry, and Curly played in those shorts. It’s not like a different person playing Batman or James Bond or Superman in a film. Moe, Larry, and Curly were real people who actually existed, and while the shorts were fictional and they were playing “characters” in those shorts, 9 times out of 10 those characters were named Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard. It’s almost as if they were playing versions of themselves, whether they were unemployed guys in the 1930s, cowboys, doctors, or knights.

So to have a new movie that isn’t a biography can only be described as … weird. It’s just three people playing dress up, imitating comedy icons in a misguided 90 minute SNL sketch. It’s an odd decision, and if you’re a big Three Stooges fan, it doesn’t process right in your brain. It creates a barrier that makes you automatically not want to enjoy the film.

I wouldn’t want to see two actors recreating what Laurel & Hardy did either. Abbott & Costello? Probably not them either, though at least one could argue they didn’t play themselves in every movie.

Maybe I say this as a Three Stooges fan (I’m a guy, and I’ve seen every one of their over 200 shorts approximately 50 times — no joke). I don’t want anyone touching what they did. But it goes further than that. I think creatively, movie-wise, to just do a new, 90-minute film (even if it is structured as three shorts) with new actors taking the place of the originals is wrong, and shows an amazing lack of ambition and respect. A biography of the Stooges — something Mel Gibson produced for TV several years ago — would be fantastic if done correctly (and seriously). Not only would you have the real-life back story of the original Stooges (and let’s not forget that beyond the goofiness and hammers over the head they had families and jobs and tragedies too), you’d be able to work their classic bits into the narrative of the movie (honestly, what’s so funny about seeing Sean Hayes hitting one of the guys from MAD TV?)

Sure, hardcore fans of the Stooges would probably still grit their teeth that there are other people portraying their heroes, but at least that portrayal would be done in a biography, something logical, and not some odd modern-day film that just seeks to copy. It’s as if the Farrelly Brothers want you to look at this new film as an additional short in the Stooge canon, only performed by different people. Sorry, you really can’t do that.

Oh, and on a side note? Shemp was just as good as Curly was.


Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Categories: Features, General

4 Responses to “Why the new Three Stooges film doesn’t make any sense”

April 14, 2012 at 1:52 AM

From what I’ve heard, this movie evolved (or devolved, depending on how you look at it) from an actual biopic involving Jim Carrey as one of the trio, which might have been great since we do know Jim can do genuine seriousness when he’s really trying.

I’ve only really seen the trailers for the movie, but just from those clips there I found myself grimacing because it felt much more like a Farrelly Brothers movie than a Stooges short. I haven’t seen the film either so I can’t confirm that the movie is as bad as the trailers, but I totally understand your reservations.

April 14, 2012 at 12:13 PM

I’m with Roger Ebert – I didn’t find it that funny either. I don’t think chainsaws to the head or people getting run over by buses plays that well in 2012.

April 14, 2012 at 3:03 PM

The audience I saw it with laughed hysterically throughout the entire movie, so it played pretty well to that crowd!

April 14, 2012 at 11:55 PM

I’d rather zonk myself in the nuts with a hammer than pay money to watch this movie. And I really, really hate zonking myself in the nuts with a hammer. Wuwuwuwu wu!

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