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Friday, 12 October 2012

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - The Three Stooges

Directed by: The Farrelly Brothers

Produced by: The Farrelly Brothers
Bradley Thomas
Charles B. Wessler

Screenplay by: Mike Cerrone
The Farrelly Brothers

Based on: The Works of The Three Stooges

Starring: Chris Diamantopoulos
Sean Hayes
Will Sasso
Jane Lynch
Sofia Vergara
Jennifer Hudson
Craig Bierko
Larry David

Music by: John Debney

Cinematography by: Matthew F. Leonotti

Editing by: Sam Seig

Studio(s): C3 Entertainment
Conundrum Entertainment

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Release date(s): April 13, 2012 (United States)
August 22, 2012 (United Kingdom)

Running time: 92 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $30 million

Box office revenue (as of publication): $53, 010, 663

Aloha there folks, I'm getting a bit of momentum back on the reviewing side of things. I must say though, that much as I try to watch movies online for free, it rarely seems to work out. The picture quality is usually awful, and I tried watching Project X there (which I will be addressing properly soon), and the thing conked out on me after watching the first half hour, so frankly, I just gave up on it and played some Max Payne 3. Anywho, there's plenty more on the way, and I have now DVD copies of Chronicle and Rampart to review in the near future, so, alongside the current cinema releases, keep your eyes posted.

So, today's movie is The Three Stooges. This project has been in development for well over a decade, and the Farrelly brothers, who have helmed the film, had at various points, Benicio Del Toro, Sean Penn and Jim Carrey penned in to play the parts of Moe, Larry and Curly respectively. Indeed, Jim Carrey had put on over forty pounds to play the part, but dropped out over health concerns due to the weight gain. In the end, Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes and Will Sasso play the eponymous Three Stooges. In this film, taking place in a contemporary setting, The Three Stooges are adults still living in their orphanage as unwanted children, and when their orphanage runs into financial trouble, they decide to take up the task of finding $830,000 in order to stop it from closing. However, in the process they get themselves entangled in a nefarious murder plot involving a woman named Lydia (Sofia Vergara), who plans to have her husband killed so she can inherit his fortune and be with her lover. That's all the plot synopsis I'm gonna give you, because frankly that's all you get. Let's take a look, shall we?

Now, in the context of having mentioned that previously star-studded cast, I must say that as a trio Diamantopoulos (trying not to type that name again!), Hayes and Sasso have done a very good job. I think the fact that I, along with much of the audience, might not know them beforehand helps make us buy them more quickly as the characters. Their chemistry is terrific, and it is on the power of this chemistry and how good their comic timing is that we are able to continue to watch this movie with a strong level of enjoyment. Also, I was a big fan of the film's editing and sound design. It's obviously a nod to the old Three Stooges use of sound as a source of humour. If you look, for instance at Laurel And Hardy, their sound effects were usually realistic, but The Three Stooges live-action shorts always sounded like a Looney Tunes animation. The contrast of what we aurally expect to hear with what we are offered is one of the film's unique characteristics. Furthermore, the fact that we rarely get to see slapstick humour of this variety any more (todays equivalent to slapstick is things like The Hangover) makes it stand out from the pack. (Quick but relevant digression: ice-cream van just went past the house playing Three Blind Mice!) Also, in terms of gags, the film is pretty well-written. It is essentially just a collection of Three Stooges sketches as narrative film, but whenever you get past the basil-exposition stuff, some of sketch-scenes, which last up to five-minutes, are damn funny. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't laugh consistently throughout these scenes, even in the obligatory pop-culture reference stuff with the Jersey Shore crew and their interactions with The Three Stooges. Finally, I'd like to praise the Farrelly brothers. Usually, I have no problem with their brand of humour, but it just would have been inappropriate with this project. They reign themselves in and the PG-rated humour comes over well and a welcome reminder that comedy films do not have to be all-out and gross-out in order to be funny. And Sofia Vergara looks fine!

Now, The Three Stooges was a good laugh, but it must be said that there are a number of key issues, most of which emanate from the script. The sketch-type gags work well, but there is a flimsy framework around these strong foundations. None of the characters besides the Stooges get any sort of genuine development whatsoever, to the point that you simply don't care. Also, earlier on I mentioned Laurel And Hardy, the fact is that when they made features, it wasn't just a series of gags held up by lame expository details, THEY HAD PLOT! In the absence of the plot, we get a really piss-poor excuse to throw the Stooges into a contemporary feature film, in which we have bad characters, every plot convolution ends up in their cliched machinations, and Jennifer Hudson sings (predictably enough!). Also (here we go!), despite my liking the film's sound design/effects/editing, I was not pleased at John Debney's score. I accept it during the comic scenes, where it takes a secondary role, but during the Basil Exposition 'Oh, Aren't Things Getting Serious' scenes, with it coming to the fore, it is terribly intrusive and irritating, and aurally reeks of the Emotional Heartstrings Orchestra! The E.H.O. appears in various films in various forms, but they all produce the same feeling and as such may as well be the same music.

Now, I have ripped into The Three Stooges because it does have outside of the sketch-gags, frankly, a shitty script with no redeeming qualities and a godawful musical score when it becomes prominent. However, despite knowing that this and the fact that the movie itself may well be terrible, I must confess that I did enjoy it. I solidly laughed throughout, even through my awareness of the film's obvious issues, I liked the three leads, the sound editing/design/effects, the comic timing, the gags and that the Farrelly brothers, for all their ridiculousness (Bill Donohue must have had a field day with this), have managed to appropriately restrain themselves and deliver a good film. It is proof that a PG-rated film can be just as good, indeed funnier, than a lot of the R-rated frat-boy comedies that studios are ramming down our throats today. A great throwback!

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 6.8/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Good, good (got some beer, ooooooo yeah! Macho Madness runnin' wild!)

P.S. To put things into (retrospective) context, I do like The Farrelly Brothers, but humour like There's Something About Mary or Stuck On You wouldn't have been appropriate here. I like that they went more the Dumb & Dumber/Shallow Hal direction.

1 comment:

Crystal Madison said...

I keep reading online and hearing from my coworkers at DISH that the actors who played the Three Stooges did great work with their roles. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the movies itself, so I’ve decided to watch it tonight through my Hopper’s Blockbuster @Home app. I’ve given up trying to find free stuff online so I just do the next best thing to free, and that’s renting an unlimited amount of Blu-rays and streaming through my Blockbuster @Home membership. It’s my way of keeping entertained, and saving my pennies. :)