When I heard about the feature film version of The Three Stooges was being made a long time ago, I was skeptical but held out hope because the Farrelly Brothers had somehow gotten together a trio of talented actors. At the time, Moe was supposed to be played by Benicio Del Toro, Larry was to be played by Sean Penn and Curly was going to be portrayed by Jim Carrey. I thought it was either going to be completely brilliant or a train wreck, either way a fun time at the movies. Then slowly but surely, problems plagued the film. First one actor left, then came back, left again and ultimately all three actors jumped ship, which is never a good thing when you’re putting a lot of money into a feature film (or in Jim Carrey’s case, gaining about 40 pounds and not wanting to ruin his health by going the 60 – 70 extra pound route). So it left the film dead in the water.
That was until the film started gaining some new traction, a lower budget and a trio of less famous actors, primarily from television. We had Chris Diamantopoulos playing Moe, Sean Hayes as Larry and Will Sasso as lovable Curly. My opinion had lowered but the one thing that intrigued me was that the Farrellys were never making a biopic, but instead new Three Stooges episodes in the present day. That thought lingered in my head when I went to a random matinee of the film and after watching 92 minutes of this new era Three Stooges, I was surprised to see that throughout the film, I laughed. I laughed hard. I laughed as if I was watching the original Three Stooges in all their incarnations (well, not as much when Joe Besser came along). How could this be? Was this cynical film buff getting soft in his old age? Not exactly. I saw a film that was made with the greatest intent, with love behind it and from people who cherished the original Three Stooges and were giving them the rightful praise they deserve. It might seem like it’s pies to the face, slaps across the nose, hammers to the head and kicks to the shins, but to me and to so many other Three Stooges fans, it was more like a pat on the back to the comedic greats.
Flash forward roughly 6 months later and with the Blu-ray release, I went in for the second time to view the film again and to see if it was a fluke occurrence. Having finished it and going through all the supplements, I have to say that it was no fluke. The Farrellys made a fun filled film, a PG slap happy comedy that is split up into 3 episodes (with title cards that harken back to yesteryear and with that trademark music we all know and love). It’s a simple premise: We see Moe, Larry and Curly being dumped off at the orphanage run by The Sisters of Mercy by their parents in a bag. The nuns all want to take care of them, but flash forward a bit and we see them causing a ruckus and injuring everybody in their way. Sister Mary-Mengele (played by Larry David, who hysterically is not trying to hide the fact that he is a man) hates the boys with a passion and through their years at the orphanage (and mind you, they’re there for 25 years) wants rid of them. Mother Superior (Jane Lynch) is trying to keep the orphanage open, but sadly due to the amount of damage and medical bills the boys have accrued over the years, the orphanage can’t afford to keep open. So it’s off to the city to make $830,000 in 30 days. Can the boys do it?
I don’t want to say anymore about the film because it’s one of those comedies that the gags run by fast and can’t be properly written about to give them the weight and showcase the hilarity of them. But what I want to talk about briefly is the amount of actual heart the film has, which is something the Farrelly’s do in basically all their films. Sometimes it works (Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary) and sometimes it falls flat on its face (Stuck On You, Shallow Hal), and in the case of the Stooges, it works in their favor. When they’re separated at one point, you want the team back together. The reason the film ultimately works is because of the main trio of Diamantopoulos, Hayes and Sasso, who bring life to the Stooges and have wonderful comedic timing. It never feels like they are just going through the motions, instead paying homage to the greats they’re replacing and when they start to roll with the punches (or the smacks), you can’t help but giggle a little bit.
The Blu-ray has a load of features, all well worth your time. You get a nice amount of deleted and extended scenes (but understandable why they trimmed it to keep the pace fast and free). What’s The Big Idea?: A History of The Three Stooges which is a short featurette detailing why the Farrellys wanted to make this film. Knuckleheads: Behind the Scenes of The Three Stooges is almost a blink and you’ll miss it extra where the Farrellys talk about making the film. Did You Hear That?: The Three Stooges Sound Effects is just that, about the sound effects and how difficult it was to match the original sounds. Perfect!: Casting The Three Stooges has the three actors and the Farrellys speaking about how hard it was to cast the film (no mention of the others who were in the roles before). The Three Stooges Mash-Up is just a short montage of comedic violence. And round that out with a screen test that the Farrellys needed to show the studio the three actors could do it together.
So it’s a resounding positive review from me with this release. It’s a film I’ve actually watched twice already since getting the Blu-ray and glad to have it in my collection alongside the complete Three Stooges box set of the classic shorts. For anybody who is wary about this film or won’t watch it on principle and respect to the original shorts, just remember that Moe Howard was always adding new players and even up to his death was trying to get two new people to go on the road with him to bring back The Three Stooges. I think he would have approved of this film.