Monday, April 16, 2012

21st-Century Stooges

I promised Ann a while ago I would take her to a movie -- it's been a while for both of us -- and she picked The Three Stooges. I went with some trepidation yesterday. A movie like that can be awful in so many ways, even (especially) for those of us who enjoyed the originals long ago, or not so long ago.

But I'm happy to report that the movie was better than I thought it would be. Much (but not all) of it was true to the spirit of the originals, and the three actors who recreated the Stooges had clearly studied very carefully for their parts, since many (but not all) of their re-creations were spot-on. A lot of the time they had the hits, slaps, pokes, pummeling and other Stooge-abuse down pat, but also the patter: Moe's violent insults, Larry's whining, Curly's moron schtick.

Like in the originals, the story was not remotely important, nor very interesting. The main thing was to get the boys into situations in which they can ply their trademark chaos to anything and everything around them, including each other, and the movie delivered that with some regularity. Also true to the spirit of the originals, the rest of the cast was one-dimensional, especially the villains.

The only other cast member who stood any chance of upstaging the Stooges was a sour, sadistic Larry David in drag, dressed as stereotypical nun. In fact there were a lot of stereotypical nuns in this movie, including a nearly naked Kate Upton for all of about three seconds -- which I understand annoyed the easily annoyed Bill Donohue. But mainly the other characters were gag-fodder. Expecting anything more is a serious misunderstanding of the Stooge universe.

There were some missed opportunities. At one point, the Stooges crash a swank party, just the kind of set-up the boys of old needed to destroy the joint. Or at least get into a pie fight at the expense of the swells. They caused some damage, but not up to Stooge standards. Also, when the villains threatened to bump the Stooges off, there could have been a more extended, Stooge-type chase, which would be true to the originals.

One thing the movie did not need were any appearances by the cast of Jersey Shore. Maybe someone in the studio decided that the movie had to have something to attract the MTV demographic, but Jersey Shore features the wrong kind of morons, who don't mesh well Stooge dimwittedness. Fortunately their appearances were short.

The main thing, though, was that I laughed sometimes. So did Ann and the rest of the audience. That's more than I get from a lot of comedy, low or otherwise.



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