The Farrelly Brothers’ feature film use of the forties and fifties slapstick comedians The Three Stooges isn’t so much stupid as it is just plain odd. There are laughs in the movie. There are also star cameos.
And then there are the sentimental moments, really tear-jerking passages that may be more frequent in the film than are runs of eye-poking and face slapping. And there are seventies rock songs—Dylan and The Allman Brothers—which have no obvious relationship to the events on screen.
And then there is the apology. At the end of the movie the Farrellys, who together gave us the gross-out comedy genre—”Dumb and Dumber,” “Kingpin,” “There’s Something About Mary,” and “Me, Myself, and Irene”—appear just after the story ends to explain to kids that they shouldn’t hit each other with hammers. Honest. And they don’t seem to be kidding. They show that the hammer heads used in the film were soft rubber.
What the heck is going on here? The guys whose movie’s used ejaculate as hair gel and caught Ben Stiller’s scrotum in his zipper—these guys are telling little kids that Moe doesn’t actually poke Curly’s eyes? Old and soft are we now?
The film’s story has been divided up into three sections, any one of which would be too long to be a Stooges short. In them the three knuckleheads first appear as infants, tossed onto the porch of an orphanage in a duffel bag. The nuns, including Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson, and Larry David, immediately notice the boys’ trademark hair styles.
And as the kids grow up, their supervisors notice that the trio always manages to wreck any project they undertake. Sent to fix the school’s belfry, Curly (Will Sasso) climbs a wooden ladder with a running chain saw dangling from his belt. Its blade, of course, cuts through every rung of the ladder. And so on. Nyuk, nyuk.
One day, ten-year-old Moe (who is played as an adult by Chris Diamantopoulos) is selected for adoption by a rich woman and her husband. When he begs for them to go back and take Larry and Curly along too, they dump him off and take another kid. But the stooges have strong fellow-feeling for all the other orphans.
When a priest administrator (Brian Doyle-Murray) announces that the orphanage must be closed unless $830,000 is found, the stooges run off to the city to try to raise the money, and they meet the kid adopted by the rich couple. But only after they have agreed to euthenate the husband of a voluptuous woman (Sofia Vergara) for the amount the orphanage needs. Guess what, the husband is the stooge’s old dormitory mate.
Meanwhile Moe finds work on a reality show—The Jersey Shore. But to thoroughly enjoy this side business, the viewer must have watched The Jersey Shore, so the only people to fully get the joke are confessing to having no taste. Perhaps that makes a sort of sense.
The cast includes Craig Bierko and Stephen Collins, and I thought Sean Hayes, who was in “Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!” and then appeared on a popular t.v. sit com called Will and Grace, was terrific as Larry. David is strong here, too, in a deadpan way. Loved Sister Bernice in that bikini habit
But I didn’t laugh as hard as I used to, sometimes, when watching a lengthy set of serial physical Stooges bits in the original comedies. The movie’s sentiment left me cold. And I was baffled by the co-directors’ appearance to pitch for safe play. Is this the Stooges or Barney?