If you know who The Three Stooges are, and you already know you don’t like The Three Stooges, then you don’t care about this. If you don’t know who the Three Stooges are, you probably don’t like them either. Their stuff got a lot of replay on television for years, but originally they were three guys in these low-budget black & white “short subjects” shown in the olden days at movie theaters when there would be a “newsreel” with news on it (this was before the Miracle of Television), and a cartoon, and a little film of a popular musician or band doing a song, and a “short subject,” and a “B-Picture,” and then the Feature Presentation. The Three Stooges were straight out of The Great Depression, and they did a lot of corny jokes, and wacky singing and dancing, and they existed inside just enough of a plotline to support 20 minutes of delivering ice, or being inept plumbers, or fashion designers, or pretty much anyone except cops, but what they really had fun doing was messing around with rich people, society folk and “stuffed shirts.” Explaining the Three Stooges just creates all this other stuff that has to be explained. Basically, The Three Stooges are goofballs who perform antics and hijinx in order to get you to laugh. They are ridiculously violent. They bop each other with hammers and poke each other (and themselves) in the eye, and they fall off ladders, and they are greedy and shifty but usually they’re just looking for a meal, or to maybe “strike it rich” with a “harebrained scheme” because Times Are Tough. Nobody learns a Valuable Lesson, there’s very little Justice, and a lot of times the film ends with the Stooges running away or getting blown up, or getting hit in the face with a bunch of pies by a dowager, circa 1930. The End.
OK, so they (and you know who They are) have been talking about this stupid The Three Stooges movie for like ten years now, seriously. I remember I read once that Sean Penn was gonna be “Larry” (the Stooge who has the frizzy clown hair), and that Mel Gibson was in charge of it somehow, but that was probably a long time before the recent unpleasantness. You can Google it. I swear in one of the Lethal Weapon movies Mel Gibson did some Three Stooges schtick, wiping his face with his hands repeatedly in a downward motion before doing some violence on somebody. I can’t look it up on Youtube to confirm it because I bought a discount “remanufactured” iMac from Apple, and any time I even get near a Youtube video on the Internet—I’m not even saying I’m trying to play one—the whole computer just freezes, and then this grey curtain comes down on the screen and a message appears, in different Languages of the World, saying something like “you need to restart your computer.” I’m not kidding. Thanks, Apple.
Anyway, by the time there really was a The Three Stooges movie to see, I already forgot who I read was supposed to be making it, and hey, as long as it’s not Ang Lee directing this thing, it’s not gonna make any difference, right? I know, that’s not fair to Ang Lee, he wasn’t the only guy who made a crappy The Hulk movie, right? There was one with Eric Bana, who was in that crazy flick Hannah, where a nine-year old girl kicks everybody’s ass, and there was one with Edward Norton, who was in Death to Smoochy, which I thought was an entertaining film, but I think it was a big flop, box-office-wise, and now did you see who The Hulk is? It’s Mark Ruffalo, who was in Zodiac, and Shelter Island, and Eternal Sunshine of the Mind or whatever, and now he is The Hulk in the new The Avengers movie, I mean he is the “before” part of The Hulk at least, before he The Hulks-up, but I’m not sure how the Avengers movie is gonna handle the The Hulked-up part of The Hulk, like with a computer deal like they did with Jeff Bridges in that Tron: Legacy movie? Maybe taking Mark Ruffalo’s head and putting it on a different person or something? I’m just saying it might not be the same person all the time being The Hulk, but everybody’s cool with that, right? I mean, they made two shitty The Hulk movies and insteada being Box Office Poison, The Hulk is one of the stars of the next Summer Blockbuster, right? Even though I wouldn’t be able to look at it on my lemon of an Apple computer, I hope somebody does a thing on Youtube where they take the three The Hulks and have them be The Three Stooges.
So for some reason people have been wondering about this The Three Stooges movie, mostly in a not-nice way, like basically that this movie is gonna be stupid, and suck, and then I saw on the Internet that the people from that Lowest Common Denominator “Jersey Shore” reality show were in the movie, and Larry David was gonna be in it, and it really was starting to sound like a piece of shit, this film. I mean, Larry David is a horrible actor, you know? He’s only good at being Larry David.
I kinda didn’t want to go to this movie, but it’s a movie, you know? I like movies. I go to a lot of “preview screenings” of movies, and usually the only thing I take notice of in a free-movie crowd is if there are a lot of children at the movie, so I can make sure I’m not sitting in front of a little nosepicker who will kick the back of my goddamn seat for 90 minutes. Sometimes there are people dressed up for the event, like for a Science Fiction movie, people will dress up in a costume, or there will be a lotta people wearing t-shirts with comic book characters on ‘em and stuff when there’s a comic-book movie like Green Lantern or, I dunno, 90% of all the “preview screenings” I went to last year.
I was really tired at the movie because I had a late night of work, until like 11, and I didn’t get to bed until 1, and then I got up at 7 the next day and did my morning walk and then I worked all day and went to the screening, and I’m no good without eight or nine hours of sleep, so when I go to a screening tired, I have to be careful not to fall asleep and get mad at the movie, because I have noticed I don’t like movies while my body is trying to fall asleep while I’m watching, especially in a theater.
This movie was directed by the Farrelly Brothers, who made a highly successful movie with a celebrated gag involving a woman inadvertently using a gentlemen’s ejaculate as a hair styling product, but they keep it pretty clean, and they do a clever thing—assuming you’re familiar with the format of a typical The Three Stooges short—and break the movie up into three “shorts,” but they’re all connected to the larger story, about saving an Orphanage, bleah, because that’s what the Farrelly Brothers do, they even said so on the CBS Morning Show, which I think is called “CBS This Morning,” which I watch now instead of the “Today” show because I just couldn’t take it anymore, all of them talking at once, Jesus Christ, shut the fuck up, but anyway, the Farrelly Brothers like to make their protagonists likeable, so that’s already a problem for me as somebody who enjoys the venal, brutal, historical The Three Stooges.
In my weakened state, I began to get angry at the first act of the movie because it was kinda sappy, what with the children and the Orphanage, plus there were nuns. I hate nuns, and I do not think anything involving nuns is good. I went to Catholic School, man. I could tell you some stories about nuns. But one of the nuns is a dude, and that was kinda funny, no explanation, just a dude. I won’t spoiler alert it. Anyway, by the second act, all these guys were doing was acting like The Three Stooges, mimicking all the old gags and catchphrases and making noises and whacking each other and injuring people around them with their ineptitudes. The guys who pretend to be the Stooges do a pretty good job, though, of being The Three Stooges, all three of ‘em. The Moe character is Chris Diamantopoulos, who has been on “24” and a lot of TV shows; Curly is Will Sasso, who was on “Mad TV” and lots of other TV; and Larry—who in my opinion, is the Greatest Stooge, because he is the glue that holds the Stooges together by keeping the ultra-violent Moe away from the ultra-stupid Curly—is played by Sean Hayes, the guy who, along with Megan Mullally, made the show “Will & Grace” way funnier than it had any right to be with those other two loads being the stars. Anyway, he’s really good as Larry, and Craig Bierko, who has done lots of stuff, but in 1996 he shoulda won an Oscar for being such a heartless piece of shit in that bad-good movie The Long Kiss Goodnight, gets laffs as a heartless piece of shit. Sofía Vergara from that award-winning, overrated “Arrested Development” ripoff “Modern Family” is along for the ride as a mean version of herself, I think. She has really big boobs in this movie, and she’s like nine feet tall.
I dunno, maybe it’s because I woke up from being drowsy and that put me in a better mood, but the pace really picked up in the third act and the stupidity-momentum of it all started to be like a real The Three Stooges movie, and it made me laugh, and the “Jersey Shore” stuff really pays off, and it has the best lighting-a-fart gag of all time. Spoiler alert. And a lion gets hit in the nuts with a peanut. I told you, you don’t like The Three Stooges.
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Joe MacLeod enjoys movies and napping. Photo by Peter Iovino, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.