- Last Updated: 11:16 AM, April 14, 2012
- Posted: 10:30 PM, April 12, 2012
THE THREE STOOGES
Why I oughtta … Running time: 91 minutes. Rated PG (slapstick violence, rude humor). At the Empire, the Union Square, others.
You would think that after a quarter-century in development at four different studios, somebody would have figured out how to make a funny movie about the Three Stooges.
After all, Moe, Larry and Curly appeared in dozens of hilarious, classic theatrical shorts between 1934 and Curly’s retirement in 1946.
Benicio Del Toro, Sean Penn and Jim Carrey nearly starred in “The Three Stooges’’ for Bobby and Peter Farrelly a few years ago. Unfortunately, we can only imagine that version.
The three actors who ended up playing the zany comics for the filmmaker brothers — Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes and Will Sasso — offer fairly precise physical and vocal imitations of Moe, Larry and Curly, respectively.
And they execute fairly precise re-creations of their predecessors’ violent routines — pokes in the eyes and hammers on the head included (with appropriate sound effects).
But to exactly what end? For starters, it wasn’t a great idea to basically borrow the premise of “The Blues Brothers’’ and turn these quintessential Jewish characters (something that’s not even hinted at) into the bumbling would-be saviors of the Catholic orphanage where they were raised.
Illustrating the film’s rough level of wit, we have Larry David, of all people, playing Sister Mary Mengele, the Stooges’ nemesis at the orphanage — named after the infamous Nazi doctor who conducted experiments on concentration-camp prisoners.
Jane Lynch is wasted in a straight role as the mother superior, and Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson, also on hand in a wimple, does little more than smile beatifically and sing a spiritual.
Things don’t get much better when the three sheltered maniacs set out — on a bicycle built for three — into a real world they’re hardly equipped for.
Not that the film does much with this, aside from one scene where the pugnacious Moe cringes when someone promises to poke him on Facebook.
The boys unwisely agree to help a femme fatale (Sofia Vergara) bump off a husband she claims is dying anyway, but end up almost killing her lover (Craig Bierko).
When they crash a high-society party and create chaos, it only serves to remind this Stooge-loving baby boomer how much more effectively the originals did this sort of thing.
The Farrellys invented the modern-day R-rated comedy with “There’s Something About Mary’’ (1998), and the shift to PG-rated family fare here is not a great fit for them. Their appearance in an on-screen “don’t do this at home’’ lecture at the end of the movie is notably humorless.
An interminable nursery sequence with projectile-urinating infants is more bizarre than actually funny.
And a gag about the Stooges farming salmon on dry land, as the pun-happy Stooges would put it, just lies there like a dead fish.
Nothing that happens in this long-awaited, sloppily sentimental and utterly pointless “The Three Stooges’’ is actually anywhere near as amusing as the history of the film itself.
It had already been in the works for years when the original Stooges’ heirs brought suit in 1993 against the trio’s longtime home, Columbia Pictures, accusing the studio of using development money for the movie as a slush fund to pay for the services of Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss’ girls.
As everyone who’s seen the “Three Stooges” trailer knows, Moe eventually becomes a celebrity as a cast member of “Jersey Shore.’’
It’s giving away absolutely nothing to report that the funniest line is delivered by Snooki, who tells a producer: “Basically, what you’re saying is that our show is about the ratings.’’
But what, exactly, is “The Three Stooges’’ about? Beats me.