When I was a little girl, watching the Three Stooges, like The Andy Griffith Show, seemed completely a guy thing. Truly, other than my mother, I didn’t know any females who regularly watched, or enjoyed, either. Give me Buster Keaton’s Seven Chances, I’d tell my father and brothers, or a Charlie Chaplin classic. They’d call me a snob and go back to laughing their arses off those Sunday mornings when the Stooges movies aired in seemingly perpetual reruns.
I came to the trio much later in life, when a good friend whose opinion I respect recommended that I give them a shot. True to his prediction, I realized what I had been unable, or unwilling, to see before—the Three Stooges are really quite funny in a way that appeals to something almost atavistic, but ever present, in our natures. The eye-poking and elbow jabs are violent, yet almost balletic in their choreography, and the way the Stooges built up their physical pratfalls into an almost domino-like display of comedic anarchy is peerless. Who better, then, to bring the Stooges back to the big screen than the Farrelly Brothers?
While originally slated to be a biopic—and that was some years ago—this new movie is a straightforward family comedy, complete with a PG rating and a warning to kids not to try this at home. The title protagonists, having been dumped as babes, grow up to try to save their orphanage from closure. As with the earlier Stooges movies, the plot merely exists to provide the threesome with opportunities to wreak havoc and make jokes which on paper would make the sophisticate roll her eyes, but in watching cause her to burst out laughing. Chris Diamantopoulos, as Moe, provides the, er, brains of the operation, whereas Sean Hayes’ Larry merely looks bewildered, seemingly unaware after all this time that a finger is quickly approaching his optic nerve; Will Sasso’s Curly is a virtuoso of comedic timing and reactions.
As the Stooges try to raise the funds necessary to save the orphanage, which houses nuns Jane Lynch and Larry David (as Sister Mary-Mengele), they encounter a lethal siren (Sophia Vergara) intent on murdering her rich but dweeby husband, who turns out to be an old pal from the orphanage. The plot contrivances and exaggerated coincidences are beside the point; The Three Stooges is just plain funny, and a well deserved paean to an underrated comic act.