The Three Stooges
Directed by Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Starring: Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos, Will Sasso  
Rated PG-13 for slapstick action violence, some rude
and suggestive humor,
including language
1 hr. 32 mins.

Ever wonder where that urge to poke somebody in the eyes or crack another’s skull with a sledgehammer comes from? Well, before the Three Stooges hit vaudeville back in the 1920s, America was (for the most part) a peaceful place. Ever since they arrived, America has been turned upside down and inspired to put a goofy kind of hurting on friends and family.

And thanks to this loving tribute by directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly, Stooges fans can laugh some more. Even though the last of the original Stooges died in 1975, their spirit and humor have been expertly resurrected by a different set of knucklehead brothers. There’s something about Stooges humor that just won’t die. It’s primal. It’s silly. It dares you not to laugh.

Story? Photography? Music? Come on now, this is the Three Stooges we’re talking about. The story is Moe, Larry and Curly fighting. Yes, there is a convenient plot about three little babies in a duffle bag thrown out a car window onto the steps of a Catholic orphanage, three babies who have haircuts just like Moe, Larry and Curly. They spend the next couple of decades in that orphanage because, well, frankly, no one else wants them. After all, as the good sisters learn from day one, they’re dangerous.

Then one day the monsignor walks in and announces that the orphanage will have to be closed down. They owe $830,000 to some mysterious entity and can’t afford to pay it. The day looks dark until the Stooges volunteer to go into the big bad world and raise the money themselves.

Off they go, spreading good natured disaster among humans and wild beasts. And of course, what happens? Moe ends up on Jersey Shore. And here’s the good news: He’s funnier than any other schlub on that show. What does that say about American TV?

The Farrelly brothers have done their homework. These Stooges come about as close as anyone could expect to the real thing. Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos), Larry (Sean Hayes) and Curly (Will Sasso) not only resemble their counterparts but manage to capture in remarkable detail the physical and verbal humor that made them so loveable.

Stooges humor always depended on timing and a special type of jousting skill, and these guys have it down.
You would think that once you’ve seen one Stooges routine, you’ve seen them all, but in this version, they manage to keep the jokes flowing and the fighting fresh. Is it skill or luck, what the Farrellys and their three clowns have managed to capture? Probably both, but that’s comedy. If it works, ride it. The harder they hit (or trip, or crash) the better we like it.

The rest of the cast is in on the joke. You wouldn’t call what they do acting. They’re just having fun. Comedians like Larry David as Sister Mary-Mengele and Jane Lynch as Mother Superior ride the Stooges’ coattails because they’re enjoying the jokes.

This is a family flick, so rest assured, the Farrellys’ usual potty humor is tame, at least compared to something like Dumb and Dumber.

Then again, since this is sponsored by the kings of gross, they do manage to push the boundaries a bit. Sophia Vergara as Lydia takes every opportunity to flaunt her breasts and there’s enough baby urine sprayed in this film to make anyone who’s ever changed a diaper cringe.

Still, if your kids have soaked in the Nicklodeon channel or watched a film like How to Eat Fried Worms or read any books by R.L. Stine, they’ll howl at The Three Stooges. Pratfalls, fist fights, lions and lobsters. Find a seat. Be a kid again. It’s a dark theater. No one will notice. Go ahead. I dare you. Laugh.