I’m a huge Three Stooges fan. I have been since childhood.
Being a fan means I’m the target audience of the new feature movie. One would think I would be thrilled to see the antics of Moe, Larry and Curly up on the big screen.
After seeing the movie, I am not.
Peter and Bobby Farrelly (“Dumb and Dumber”) directed and co-wrote this film. They are fans of the Stooges as well, and they present a story that plays on what they think is the hallmark of the Stooges.
That hallmark is seen in the fact that the Stooges are introduced as orphans, as foundlings on the steps of an orphanage.
They grow up as misfits and unadoptable. When offered a chance to be adopted, the one that is will not go without the others.
They are innocents set loose in the world, and this is the Farrellys’ idea of what makes the Stooges great.
When they are adults and the orphanage is threatened by a money issue, the three set out to make the cash needed to save their home. They eye poke and slap their way through the story. They may be innocents, but here they are very violent innocents.
This interpretation of the Stooges is not how I see these three. Some things are missing here that I believe made the Stooges.
Even as a child, I knew the Stooges were subversive. They were subversive in the way they made fun of people and institutions.
In fact, the Stooges were the first to satirize Hitler and the Nazis. Moe did a take on Hitler called Moe Hailstone, with Larry and Curly as his sycophants. They made monkeys of Hitler and the Nazi regime.
What I saw was a group of misanthropes that did not shy away from even the greatest monster of the 20th century.
The Stooges were also conscious of class. One of their famous shorts dealt with a professor who has a bet to make the Stooges into gentlemen. At the end of the short, the Stooges have reduced society’s upper crust to being just like them.
Here, the Farrelly Brothers seem to think all you have to do is have slaps and eye pokes to have the Stooges. Just let Moe bully Larry and Curly and you capture the essence of the Stooges.
They were so much more than this. They had some of the best dialogue I have ever heard. And each line was more than a slap.
I know. It may sound like I take the Stooges too seriously. Yet, I saw something as a child that was more than pies and pokes.
Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard were more than just three grown men beating each other to a pulp. They revealed the world’s hypocrisy.
The Farrellys show us three men that look and act like the original Stooges, but they miss the most important part.
MPAA Rating: PG for slapstick action violence, some rude and suggestive humor including language.
Directors: Bobby and Peter Farrelly
Writer: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly and Mike Cerone
Cast: Will Sasso: Curly; Sean Hayes: Larry; Chris Diamantopoulos: Moe; Jane Lynch: Mother Superior; Larry David: Sister Mary-Mengele; Jennifer Hudson: Sister Rosemary; Sofia Vergara: Lydia.
The movie’s website is here.
Michael Parnell is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married and has two boys. His love is for movies, and he can be found in a theater most Fridays.