Saturday, May 19, 2012

Three Stooges (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway 

 The Three Stooges

I am a Three Stooges fan from way back. One summer as a teenager in Cape May, New Jersey, I first discovered them. I was sleeping in the side room of my Nana's house. I had a bell connected to a string that led to my dad's cottage across the yard. In my eyes, this was a nonsensical contraption right out of a Stooges short. But it worked. 
Each Saturday morning and weekday afternoon, I would turn channel 39 and watch The Stooges. I would become excited and giddy, my clenched right hand revved up and ready as if I had a friend with me.
The Stooges inhabited a strange simplistic, grammatically (and politically incorrect) violent world that made no sense whatsoever, but they were iconoclastic and I enjoyed their ridicule of the bourgeoisie, despite it being lowbrow.

The Stooges were all about timing. The jokes were never all that funny but the humor was in Moe Howard's irrational  bluster and his anger in spite of everything, even when it seemed out of place and out of control. Slapstick they were, but poised against our ironic and detached 21st century, The Stooges now appear almost Punk.

I had my doubts about this new film. But I had to see it just the same. I was well aware that it probably wasn't equal to the originals. But I was encouraged by the madcap oeuvre of The Farrelly Brothers who have travelled similar Stooge-esque knocks of thought with their poor taste into good taste films, "Dumb and Dumber" and "There's Something About Mary". I had my hopes. their own way, as a post-modern tribute, they succeed. Just not, with flying monochrome colors.

The Farrelly Brothers have wisely chose to film three vignettes. We have Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos) Larry (Sean  Hayes and Curly (Will Sasso). The Stooges are cast perfectly and all bear striking, even uncanny likenesses to their original numbskull forefathers. At the start, The Three are dropped off as infants at a Catholic orphanage. The sight of them as babies is startling and funny at first. They make slapstick violence cute. As the scene goes on, the things the young toddlers do become more predictable and less funny. A falling bag of hammers, a chainsaw and torturing Sister Mary Mengele, strangely played by Larry David in Drag (who is funny up to a point, especially when he hisses) all seem what you would expect from a tribute film. 

Suffice to say, the orphanage is about to go into foreclosure and the gang vows to save it. 

The film is most interesting given that Moe is a Libertarian of sorts: "We don't need no handouts!" and the story would have benefited from some political and religious humor perhaps making fun of the Koch Brothers and Sam Harris but I guess I'm expecting too much.

There are some honestly funny moments here: Moe sees a youngster in low hip-hop shorts and says, "Hey, kid you're losing your pants!" and it is a laugh riot when you see Curly in Drag as a preening nurse as well as when he's in the polar bear tank. These gags work because Will Sasso is so rightly unselfconscious, as his original predecessor was.  Sadly, the film lags and becomes a bit of a blow to the eyes when the gags just run out.

Tv Sexpot Sofia Vergara contributes nothing to the film, although I did laugh when Curly's black rat got stuck between her breasts and how can you not?  Jennifer Hudson is oddly cast as a nun, although her presence is only here so Moe can do his classic Gospel bit.

The jokes are all fine (except for the peeing baby bit which went on far too long) 
If only the three nose-crunching comrades had more to work with in the story. After so many expected smashes and slugs, mostly with the profoundly unfunny cast of "The Jersey Shore" what should have been very entertaining, merely becomes a nostalgic echo of brighter times in black and white. Despite this, Will Sasso as Curly's Ghost makes it worth going forward in time, however short-lived.

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