Movie Review: The Farrelly Brothers’ Three Stooges Is a Wonder

Peter and Bobby Farrelly’s The Three Stooges is a slavish imitation of the Stooges’ shorts with a trio of eerie replicants — yet wow. Just wow. The combination of childlike glee and grown-up precision is a wonder. The movie actually earns the right to exist, which is no mean feat.

The brothers grok the Stooges’ brilliance in spite of the movies’ tiny budgets, patchy scripts, and limited catalogue of routines. Seasoned Jewish vaudevillians, they made music out of incompetence, infantilism, and rage — a symphony of boinks and bonks and hollow thumps and whinnies and rrrruffffffs and "Whatsa mattah with you?"-whomp-ow-ow-ow-ows. Here, the performers transcend mimicry. Despite a touch of Cagney in his diction, Chris Diamontopoulos nails Moe’s inexhaustible irritability, the trembling edge in his voice, the glint in his eye when he knows it’s time to brain either Curly or Larry (or both in succession), and that exquisite beat between intention and action. Sean Hayes — best known as the sprightly Jack from Will & Grace — is unrecognizable, and he gets Larry’s dreamy malingering, his mixture of righteous indignation and yellow-bellied fatalism. In a sea of Curly imitators, Will Sasso is an island unto himself: Savor the quavery falsetto trill, the defiant bleat, the canine gnashing, the stutter steps. In the worst of the shorts (and the godawful late features), there were tedious gaps between the episodes of physical abuse, but the Farrellys distill the Stooges’ essence and keep those choreographed conks coming. Watching The Three Stooges, I was hit by a terrible realization. There are plenty of intricate fights in movies these days, but no slapstick of consequence — not even the second-rate Disney antics of Dean Jones and a willful cat or Volkswagen. Why have pratfalls fallen so out of fashion? Read More...


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