If you ever want to know how bankrupt Hollywood has become over the years, look at the progression of The Three Stooges film. Initially with Sean Penn, Benecio del Toro and Jim Carrey attached to the roles of the stooges, with Hank Azaria stepping in (and then out) for del Toro, the Farrelly brothers wound up with Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes and Will Sasso as the stooges in a second rate script.
The film follows Moe, Larry and Curly (Diamantopoulos, Hayes and Sasso) as they try to raise money to save their orphanage. They venture out into the real world to try and raise $830,000 in 30 days to save the orphanage. Split into three acts, the film follows the trio as they are fish out of water as well as engage in a handful of hair0brained schemes to try and raise the cash.
The problem is that the film mines jokes that even a Happy Madison production would reject for the sake of getting a laugh. Throwing in a handful of slapstick gags on top of seeing the stooges in modern times, this is a film that is clearly a labor of love for the Farrelly Brothers but it’s not all that entertaining. Why?
It’s because the stooges don’t translate effectively in a modern era in a feature length film.
The film’s problem is that it wants to build a feature length story arc for all three, et al, when the stooges aren’t characters that need it. There’s a particular reason why the stooges work better in shorts; we don’t want to get to know them as people. We want to see them in slapstick violence trying to accomplish some sort of scheme, fail or succeed to some degree and then end. By giving us fully functioning characters something is lost; the stooges were never about anything more than cursory, vaudeville characters who engage in shenanigans.
By trying to do a three act film, instead of three sketches with no connection, the Farrelly Brothers are trying to take characters that don’t work well in a traditional comedy set and adjust them into one. After a while the characters get stale and the fact that they have to involve the bozos from Jersey Shore as a plot device makes it all that much depressing.
A digital copy of the film is included, if you’re into that sort of thing. A handful of features about the film are included, from the sound effects to a brief history of the stooges, as well.
20th Century Fox presents The Three Stooges . Directed by the Farrelly Brothers. Starring Chris Diamatopoulos, Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Kate Upton, Larry David. Written by Mike Cerrone and the Farrelly Brothers based off short films by The Three Stooges. Running time: 92 minutes. Rated PG. Released: July 17, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.