The Three Stooges
Did the world really need a reboot of the Three Stooges franchise, with a trio of actors imitating the legendary Moe, Larry and Curly adrift in today’s digital society? Probably not, but the Farrelly Brothers took a chance and turned out a strange but entertaining film.
In this endeavor, the trio is abandoned as infants at a funky Catholic orphanage where Jane Lynch is the mother superior, Jennifer Hudson is a gospel-singing sister and Larry David (in drag) is the ill-humored "Sister Mary Mengele." Years pass - 35, to be exact - and no one wants to adopt Moe, Larry and Curly. But when the orphanage needs to raise $850,000 in a month to prevent its closure by the diocese, the perennial orphans venture into the wide and wild world to raise cash in a hurry. Needless to say, things do not go according to plan.
Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes and Will Sasso only bear adequate physical and vocal resemblance to the original Stooges, but they manage to channel enough of the spirit of their inspirational sources to flawlessly recreate several classic slapstick pieces while inventing a few new mishaps (including the dropping of a giant bell on Sister Mary Mengele’s unsuspecting head). Sofia Vegara gets involved in some slapstick as a gold-digger who hires the Stooges to bump off her wealthy husband, while the cast of "Jersey Shore" turns up to receive some Moe-generated knockabout.
Oh, one thing that you will not see in this film is a gag that was prominently featured in the film’s trailer: supermodel Kate Upton emerging from a pool wearing a nun’s headdress and a teeny bikini. That was cut out after the Catholic League complained about the film’s lapse into bad taste, and the scene was reshot with Upton’s character positioned in the background of a scene for a mere few seconds.
In creating this production, the Farrellys decided not to transfer a great percentage of the gratuitous violence from the Stooges’ beloved two-reelers. Instead, they provided an unexpected depth of warmth that allows the knuckleheads to have genuine emotional concern for each other and their quasi-family in the orphanage. There is even an odd coda in which Antonio Sabato Jr. and Justin Lopez - pretending to be the Farrellys - dissuade younger viewers from repeating the smacks and stunts shown on screen. Some parents may appreciate this Stooges-lite approach, but die-hard fans of the rowdy threesome may feel that the franchise has been weakened to appease contemporary busybodies.