Film review: 'Three Stooges' reboot, nyuk, nyuk, yuck, yuck

April 16, 2012|By BOB GARVER
  • In this image released by 20th Century Fox, from left, Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos, and Sean Hayes are shown in a scene from "The Three Stooges."
AP Photo/20th Century Fox, Peter Iovino

"The Three Stooges" is the stupidest movie of the year. 

The film is probably proud to be awarded that title, which annoys me. Of course, it's a stupid movie, it's the Stooges. It would frankly be baffling if it were anything but stupid.

The problem isn't that it's stupid, the problem is that it isn't funny. Let's say that funny is popcorn and stupid is golden-flavored popcorn topping. The topping can make the popcorn better, but you wouldn't want to just drink it by itself. "The Three Stooges" is like being forced to gulp down a cup of golden-flavored popcorn topping.

The Three Stooges were a comedy trio best known for a line of short films in the 1930s and ‘40s. The lineup changed throughout the years, but the most popular incarnation consisted of the bald Curly, balding Larry, and salad bowl-cut Moe.

The comedy was mostly physical, usually involving the Stooges getting hurt either by accident or by each other. There wasn't a lot of variety to the gags, which is why the films were usually only 20 minutes. That should be your first clue that this 90-minute movie isn't going to work.

The Stooges have now been reinvented with Will Sasso as Curly, Sean Hayes as Larry and Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe. They're put into a plot where they need to raise money to save their childhood orphanage. It's one of those orphanages run by nuns, one of whom is played by Larry David, whose casting was surely funnier on paper than it is onscreen. The team's Stoogery leads them into a murder plot involving an old orphanage buddy and his wife (Sofia Vergara).

To recap: the film wastes the humor potential of three Stooges, an orphanage full of nuns and Sofia Vergara.

The Stooges' style hasn't aged well. The film is made for people who think that scenes of various kinds of hitting never get old. Those scenes were old the first time I saw the trailer. We also have to suffer through some painful jokes about the Stooges failing to understand modern technology, a dreadful trend often found in updates of outdated source material. The absolute worst thing about the movie is a scatological scene in a nursery. It is potty humor badly in need of a potty. I cannot think offhand of a scene I have detested more in all of movie history.

Here's an example of how stupid (without being funny) the movie is. Moe gets cast on the bottom-of-the-barrel reality show "Jersey Shore." He pulls his abusive schtick on the cast members, who by the way do a terrible job of playing themselves. We're supposed to laugh watching the spoiled celebrities get humiliated. Except that anyone who's ever seen so much as a clip of "Jersey Shore" knows that these idiots do a fine job of humiliating themselves. I find it depressing that these shameless people got paid to appear in this movie, even if they are in it just to get smacked. It would have saved a lot of trouble to just say in passing that the Stooges are too dumb for "Jersey Shore." Or maybe it would be funnier to say that they're too intelligent.

Even the basic gags in "The Three Stooges" aren't funny. They have more in common with bone-crunching comedies like "Home Alone" than the actual, milder Stooges shorts. The look and speech patterns of the Stooges were always distinctive, but here brought into the modern world (in color) are nothing short of distracting.

Last but not least, the film could have done without the wacky sound effects whenever someone gets hurt. I know it's a Stooges trademark, but in the shorts it felt somewhat natural, here it feels like there's a sound effects guy just off camera hovering his finger over the "bonk" button.

"The Three Stooges" is unfunny in so many ways at once. 

One Star out of Five

"The Three Stooges" is rated PG for slapstick action violence and some rude and suggestive humor including language. Its running time is 92 minutes.

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