Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Cinema File #45: "The Three Stooges" Review

I've never been a fan of the Three Stooges. Accuse me of being the proud owner of a vagina if you must, but I just don't get why its supposed to be funny after the tenth or so eye poke. Give me the Marx Bros. or Hope and Crosby over this juvenile crap any day as far as I'm concerned. I don't know if my lack of love for the classic comic trio made me more or less inclined to give the latest Farrelly Brothers movie a fair shake, but while I can say that it isn't nearly as painfully bad as I was expecting it to be, I can't say there's much of anything here to recommend that's actually good either.

I'm reminded of that weird Laurel and Hardy remake with Gailard Sartain and Bronson Pinchot, and the out cry over trying to recreate such beloved performances with modern actors, and I can imagine the distaste I would feel if they did try that with, say the Marx Bros, so I get the instant aversion to this film from die hard fans. And yet, its clear from the outset that the Farrelly's are at least trying to give us a loving tribute of something that they care a great deal about and that obviously influenced them a great deal. If you can say anything good about The Three Stooges, it is a passion project, with very little about it that struck me as a crass attempt to milk modern money out of an old franchise.

The problem is, its still not any good. I don't know this to be the case, but I suspect that this style of slapsticky humor is, to paraphrase my second favorite Mel Brooks film Silent Movie, dead. I wonder if my main problem with this movie, the reason I get the sense of blandness so forcefully from the very beginning, is simply because they hued too closely to the spirit of the original, which ordinarily is what you would want, but here, just makes it seem pointless and trifling. There are brief glimmers where it looks like they are going to take this into an interesting direction, turning the innocence of these characters on its head as they get wrapped up in a murder plot, but I wanted it to get darker and more twisted from there, while its clear that the writer/directors didn't feel comfortable taking it as far as it would have needed to go to satisfy me.

What we get is a mish mash of slapstick jokes and a few inspired bits that had me chuckling occasionally, though never quite laughing uproariously. Again, I was never insulted or annoyed, and never felt the urge to turn the thing off as I did with Journey 2, The Mysterious Island, but by the end, I didn't get any sense that any of this was worth my time. I found myself grasping at straws during the credits trying to find things I liked about the movie, and all I could get to was Larry David in drag and Sofia Vergara's increasingly tight outfits that at one point become home to one of the luckiest rodents in the whole wide world. I know that sounds crass and demeaning to women, but thats how bereft of positive qualities this movie is.

Now that the show has been cancelled, the extended Jersey Shore reference did elicit an unintended laugh at how instantly dated it was, and I get the point of finding the one group of people that movie audiences might actually like to see pummeled by our dimwitted heroes, but I care so little for that show, positively or negatively, that it carried none of the cathartic, schadenfreude enhanced weight I gather it was supposed to. If seeing Snooki, J-Wow, and the Situation (only one of whom I could recognize even if you put a gun to my head) get slapped around and made to look like bigger idiots than you already think they are is enough for you, than sure, go nuts. Otherwise, there's not enough here to justify anything close to a recommendation.

I have to give the Farrelly Brothers credit for even making a full length movie with established characters and even a little heart out of this incredibly shallow gag of a premise, but as impressive as that is, it doesn't make the movie good, and it isn't.

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