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:: The Three Stooges

Years in the making, the Farrelly Brothers have finally delivered their passion project – a film adaptation of Three Stooges – to the big screen. Your level of enjoyment with this film version depends greatly on where you stand with The Stooges to begin with. If, like me, you spent your afternoons as a kid seated in front of the television watching Moe, Larry and Curly in one-reel shorts, then you are likely to be the target audience for this movie. If you're not, the movie will unquestionably be a struggle. I am among those legion of fans of the Three Stooges and can happily say that I enjoyed the movie.

Peter and Bobby Farrelly make the wise choice to stick with the original material and avoid trying to update The Stooges for the 21st Century. They live in the 21st century, but have personalities that still seem stuck in the 1930s. The familiar Stooge-honoured story is broken up into three segments. The first involves the boys' upbringing at a catholic orphanage, where they were dropped on the doorstep, and spent their childhood trying to get adopted. Moe (well played as a 10 year-old by Skylar Gisondo) is adopted by a nice couple, but won’t go without his brothers. So, the boys spend the next 25 years at the orphanage working as the maintenance men where wackiness ensues.

The second and third segments involve an attempt by the trio to raise $830,000 within a month to keep the orphanage from being closed. Out in the real world for the first time, they immediately get involved in a scam by a buxom gold digger (Sofia Vergara) who hires them to kill her husband because he supposedly has one foot in the grave. That plot is familiar and probably more complicated than it needs to be. It hardly matters, everything in this movie, just like the old Stooges shorts, is just a clothes-line for physical gags. Most of the movie involves the classic Three Stooges convention of struggling to find work. Some of the gags work, like their attempts to farm salmon, and a later attempt to sell ice cream.

The Farrellys not only bring back the sound effects and even - best of all - the jarringly obvious edits during particularly gruesome stunts, but they also bring back the absurd violence and the occasional desperately topical gag. Perhaps the original Stooges would never have stooped to include the Jersey Shore idiots, but surely we can all agree there’s some pleasure in seeing Snooki and co get smacked around by Moe.

The casting here is just about right. Sean Hayes, from “Will & Grace”, does a good job as Larry, the put-upon middle child. Chris Diamantopoulas, from “24” does a quite effortless job as Moe, and Will Sasso of “Mad TV” gets the unenviable task of attempting to recreate the Baby Huey-like antics of Curly. That’s not an easy job, and I give Sasso a lot of credit for trying to pull off some of Curly’s inimitable gags.

Furthermore, there’s no bad language, and nothing beyond the eye-poking and head-slapping that would concern a parent. With that, The Farrelly Brothers give the film an epilogue to explain to impressionable kids that these are just gags and not to try them at home. The Farrellys manage to weave together a weird blend of coarse and crude humour with a genuine affection for society's goofballs, weirdos and rejects.

It was good to see the guys make fools of wealthy people. You have to remember that the Three Stooges struck a chord with audiences in the 1930s who were suffering the effects of the Great Depression. In the 21st century, it strikes a chord with people affected by the recent economic crisis. Either way, the Stooges have always been culturally significant; their classic shorts have always been shown on TV for new generations of fans to discover. I hope that The Three Stooges inspires younger people to watch some of the original shorts

The Three Stooges is simply a good-hearted and entertaining tribute to a classic mid-century comic act that will please most Stooges fans.