Film Review: “The Three Stooges”

The Stooges were a part of my grade school years in the 50s and I watched them Saturday mornings on our black and white TV with great glee. They were masters of physical farce and extreme slapstick. The timing never ceased to amaze me. It’s impossible to do what they do without instantaneous timing magic. They had been doing this Vaudeville shtick since the 30s and they had it nailed. And they were also controversial. Even back in the 40s and 50s, there were those that complained about gratuitous violence in the movies and on TV, and the Stooges led that list. But to their many fans, they were amazing and everyone laughed.

Various iterations of the Stooges appeared in over 200 films and 190 short subjects in their 50-year history. Despite much commercial success, he Stooges suffered health problems that ultimately finished their careers. Larry Fine suffered a series of strokes culminating in his death in 1970. Moe Howard died of lung cancer in 1974. Joe Besser died of chronic heart failure in 1988. Their act has never been successfully reproduced…until this week in 2012.

The revival of The Three Stooges, starring actors that weren’t alive at the height of the Stooges popularity. They tried hard, but in the end their performances don’t satisfy.  They don’t really resemble the original Stooges physically and the tightly choreographed sight gags are close but not in the same league of the original. The plot of the film borrows from the Blues Brothers (saving the orphanage) without the action and inimitable Blues Brothers humor.

I chose an early afternoon showing, and there were only about ten people there.  I sat munching popcorn and freely laughing at most of the sight gags that were funny enough to laugh at but not howlers. Few others were laughing. I think the film will flop and be sold to HBO next week.  I also think there will never be any more Stooges. I think the act died with Larry Fine, Moe Howard and Joe Besser, and will only be remembered by the medium of YouTube (which BTW is worth a watch).

Best feature:  Peanut shot out the snout of a dolphin ricochets around the zoo finally impacting the rear end of a male lion, causing a very visible cremasteric reflex.

Worst feature:  Sight gags don’t quite match the timing of the original.

I give it 2 of 5 Nyuk Nyuks.  Wait till it comes out on HBO or Comcast and watch it for free. A few good laughs.


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