- Released: Thursday, 28 June 2012
- Runtime: 90 mins.
- Distributor: 20th Century Fox.
For many children in the 1950s, going to the pictures on Saturday afternoon was ruined (until The Phantom or Abbott and Costello came on)by the interminable violence masquerading as humour of The Three Stooges. More than fifty years later, Moe, Larry and Curly have been reprised and return to the screen in a well-scripted, affectionate homage by Peter and Bobby Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber, Hall Pass),which may force some critics to re-evaluate the trio’s worth.
Conceived as an unofficial biography of the anarchic trio, The Three Stooges begins with the dumping from a speeding car of three very odd looking babies (identified as Moe, Larry and Curly by their wigs) on the steps of a Sisters of Mercy orphanage.
The orphanage boasts on its façade that the orphanage was founded in 1934, the same year the original Three Stooges made their first films, and the bevy of good-natured Sisters, led by a beaming Mother Superior (Jane Lynch, Glee), open their arms to the foundlings as ‘angels from heaven’. But when the irreverently named Sister Mary-Mengele (Larry David, Whatever Works) gets a poke in the eye from Baby Moe which sends him flying through the sky to the accompaniment of a loud ‘boing’, it suddenly becomes clear that these orphans are no ordinary charges.
Structured cleverly as a continuous narrative broken into three ‘episodes’ (which harks back nicely to the Stooges’ original short film format), the viewer follows the Stooges through childhood to ‘adulthood’, in the course of which the long-suffering, ever-smiling Sisters of Mercy remain miraculously unchanged. And unchanged too, except for their size and the extent of their stupidity, are the three stooges, proof if it were needed that Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos, 24), Curly (Will Sasso, MADtv) and Larry (Sean Hayes, Will and Grace) are really grown-up children, fools who cannot help themselves.
When the orphanage is threatened with closure for the want of $830,000,the Stooges’ leave home in an attempt to raise the necessary money, and this leaves the door open for a labyrinthine plot involving a scheming seductress called Lydia (Sofia Vergara Modern Family), which has enough witty one-liners amongst all the biffing, boinging and eye-gouging, to make The Three Stooges amusing for children and possibly adults.
Given the level of violence in so many movies considered acceptable for children today, the Three Stooges, who once made little girls like me squirm in their seats, appear quirky and innocuous, even benign, a point reinforced by the filmmakers who appear together on screen before the credits roll, to show that the hammers and other tools used by the Stooges to hit each other are made of rubber, and ‘safe’.