In nearly 25 years of writing about films, I obviously have encountered a veritable plethora of movies that have elicited myriad emotional responses. Some pictures were inspirationally uplifting, and some were nauseatingly repulsive. Some were hilariously funny, and some were embarrassingly stupid. Some were hypnotically exciting, and some were insufferably dull.
I watched films that could have cured insomnia and others that could have induced vomiting. I’ve seen movies that made my sides ache from laughing and others that have moved me to tears. But I can never remember sitting through a film that gave me a headache until I had the misfortune of watching “The Three Stooges.”
This 90-minute exercise is futility is obnoxiously noisy and completely devoid of humor. I would rather read through the Manhattan telephone directory than sit through this totally useless and deplorable movie again.
The film begins at an orphanage staffed by a group of nuns presided over by Mother Superior (Jane Lynch). A mysterious car drives by the porch of the orphanage, and someone from the interior of the vehicle throws a bag at the feet of Sister Mary Mengele (Larry David), who is standing on the porch. The bag contains the three Stooges as toddlers.
As Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos), Larry (Sean Hayes), and Curly (Will Sasso) grow into manhood, they spend their entire lives at the orphanage until they ultimately leave because the place is on the verge of bankruptcy. In order to give something back to the only place they have ever known as home, the Stooges embark on a mission to raise $830,000 to save the orphanage. In doing so, they ultimately find themselves involved in an attempted murder that is far too complicated to explain here.
Now I suppose that maybe hardcore fans of the three Stooges (I’m not one of them.) may find some enjoyment and perhaps even some laughs in this movie, but I thought it was a total waste of time, and I didn’t even smile once. In fact, this may have been the longest 90 minutes I’ve ever spent in my life.
Throughout the film, as is their trademark, the Stooges physically abused one another by pulling hair out of their heads and noses, poking each other in the eyes, slapping each other in the face, and hitting each in the head with various objects. These actions were accompanied by a series of incoherent grunts and groans and the traditional “nuyuck, nuyuck, nuyuck” and “woooooo, woooooo, woooooo,” sounds that seem to drive stooge fans into paroxyms of laughter. All I wanted was a huge bottle of Tylenol and a swimming pool full of vodka.
The film was directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly, the undisputed kings of stupid movies with such films as “There’s Something About Mary,” “Shallow Hal,” and “Dumb and Dumber” to their credit. Yes, I saw all of those, and found a least some remnant of humor in each of them. But that was not the case with this one. In an interview with Amy Nicholson of Box Office Magazine, Peter Farrelly disclosed that both Jim Carrey and Sean Penn had showed interest in being in the film and how Carrey tried to gain weight for the part of Curly.
“He started gaining weight about a year ago, and he didn’t feel very good. You could always put on a fat suit, but none of us wanted to do it that way, so he dropped out. We take a Zen view of casting. If we had gotten whom we wanted on ‘Dumb and Dumber,’ I don’t want to mention names, but it would have been way worse than what we got. We were lucky that 150 people passed on ‘Dumb and Dumber,’ which led us to Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. Nobody could have beaten them. So that’s how I feel about the Stooges. Yeah, it’s disappointing when Jim Carrey and Sean Penn can’t do it. But in the long run, I know we’re going to get the best people. It’s just the way it is. You can’t control everything, and I try not to because if you do, it’s only going to be as good as you could make it. As opposed to opening up the universe and letting something better happen.”
He also offered an explanation about the why the Stooges have retained their appeal throughout the years.
“They’re timeless. They’ll work in any time because of their physical humor. If you look at physical humor, it travels well and it ages well. You know what doesn’t age well? Verbal humor, repartee. It gets old because that changes. But hitting and slapstick and falling still work. Of all of our movies, I expect ‘Dumb and Dumber’ will last the longest because of the physicality in it. And I think the Stooges are the same. I think we could have made this movie 50 years ago, 30 years ago, 10 years ago-we could make it 10 years from now-and it would still work. It’s not reliant on a wave of humor.”
In all fairness, Damantopoulos, Hayes, and Sasso offer a very credible rendition of the Stooges in this film, but that didn’t make the viewing experience any more bearable for me. And that brings me to my final grade for “The Three Stooges.” The terrific film “The Hunger Games” scored the first 10 of the young film season a few weeks ago. And “The Three Stooges” has the dubious distinction of earning the first zero.
Nuyuck, Nuyuck, Nuyuck!!!!!