Both sincerely affectionate and a tad eerie, the Farrelly brothers'
This retro exercise has been a long time coming. For a while the Farrellys — best known for "There's Something About Mary" and "Dumb and Dumber" — attracted the interest of various A-listers, including
The trio they ended up with lacks star wattage, but it's very solid.
So that's a start. But absurdly brutal slapstick is a tough thing to sustain across a feature. I spent a lot of "The Three Stooges" staring, not laughing. For me this was a stare-out-loud affair.
The script by the Farrellys and Mike Cerrone tosses the infant Stooges at the doorstep of an orphanage, where Jane Lynch plays the kindly Mother Superior and Larry David, in wimple drag, plays the mean nun just waiting to get clocked and bonked and banged around. The orphanage is threatened with foreclosure; to raise the $830,000, the boys bravely venture out into the real, adult world, for the first time.
"What is that gadget?" one of the Stooges asks. "It's an
Aptly, "The Three Stooges" tells its story in three parts, as separate short films adding up to a feature. Less aptly, the pathos involving a mortally ill child at the orphanage and the Stooges' underlying love for one another can get pretty brutal. The sentimentality often feels at odds with the protracted, unevenly executed set pieces relying on wrench-conks and hot irons to the chest.
Also, the anachronisms chafe. While it certainly (or soitenly) fills time to have Moe become a cast member of "Jersey Shore" and yank the nose hairs out of one cast member while giving
Remember "Brain Donors" from 1992? It was an attempt, valiant but limited, to recapture the magic and the dynamic of the Marx Brothers, with
'The Three Stooges' -- 2 stars
MPAA rating: PG (for slapstick action violence, some rude and suggestive humor including language)
Running time: 1:32