Sunday, April 15, 2012

Review: The Three Stooges

What could have been a complete disaster turns out to be a half-watchable tribute to the olden days of slapstick comedy. The Farrelly brothers do a passable job of imitating the classic Vaudeville style, nailing the timing, rhythm and outlandishness of the choreographed chaos.

Chris Diamantopoulos and Will Sasso are frighteningly accurate in their resurrections of Moe and Curly. The weak link is Sean Hayes, who overdoes it in his attempt to ape the original, as Larry. Speaking of Larrys, Larry David is also a whiff in his absurdist role as a megalomaniacal nun who stalks the halls of the Stooges' orphanage. He brings very little to the character, serving only as a wink to parents who are lugging their kids along to the carnage.

The gang is good for the usual smattering of ridiculous laughs -- a urine-soaked scene inside a nursery is a high point -- but like the originals, can only sustain the madness for brief periods. I doubt that the giants the movie is imitating would have been able to pull off a feature film that sustained their shorts' level of excellence, and it's far too much to ask the same of these newbies. I hope this is the start of a franchise, but not of feature-length sequels. Just three-minute-long shorts that play as prologues to real comedies.

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