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Stooge Is All You Need

Laughter abounds In this faithful remake.

In times of global political uncertainty, economic malaise and sporting gloom-and-doom, all the world needs is hairpulling, a sledgehammer to the crotch or a perfectly timed slap to the face.

Some critics really panned The Three Stooges, saying that this remake of the slapstick classic lacked the charm and the playfulness of the 80 or so classic short films that the team of Moe, Larry and Curly made beginning back in the 1930s.

But the critics didn’t attend this one with the youngster who loudly proclaimed, “That was super funny!” as the credits rolled at the end. In fact, the whole picture elicited laughter throughout the Cinemark Louis Joliet Cinema on Saturday morning, even moreso than generated last weekend.

I think the critics who dismissed The Three Stooges with a D- grade or so (that’s you, Dean Richards of WGN-TV) secretly believe the team of Sean Hayes (Larry), Will Sasso (Curly) and Chris Diamantopoulous  (Moe) committed the cardinal sin of recreating something that men of a certain age hold reverential.

But seriously, Dean? You gave American Reunion an A and this a D-? This picture was fun, innocent (well, as innocent as Sofia Vergara can be with a rat lodged in her ample cleavage) and loyal to the original franchise on just about every level. It’s a fun flick that’s going to entertain everyone, from 6-year-olds to those who remember the original works.

I’m no Stooges scholar, but I always appreciated the conedy team's madcap, black-and-white shenanigans. Between the towering Three and “Tom and Jerry” cartoons, a generation of people learned the hysterical possibilities of a stick of dynamite or a heavy object falling from great heights (both on display here).

The plot here is a time-honored one, as Richards at WGN caustically noted in comparing it to The Blues Brothers (an archetypal save-the-place plotline he missed in his review of The Muppets): the local Catholic archdiocese (and it’s not clear where this is set) decides to close down the orphanage where the stooges were reared. The three bumbling brothers then embark on an attempted fundraising blitz, one that finds them sleeping in dumpsters and entertaining financial endeavors involving murder (which thankfully never happens).

The all-star cast, including Larry David as Sister Mary-Mengele (and holy Moses, I wonder how many people are going to miss the reference to the Nazi Angel of Death that the Jewish David references here with that name. Now that’s a dark sense of humor not quite desensitized by 70 years), Jane Lynch as Mother Superior, Jennifer Hudson as Sister Rosemary and the great Brian Doyle-Murray as Monsignor Ratliffe, makes this a modernly star-studded affair full of laughs.

Listen closely to the tunes here as well. You’ll hear protopunk Jonathan Richman, Bob Dylan and some modern indie rock too. Good stuff!

In the end, Moe winds up giving the cast of Jersey Shore its eye-poking deservance (one of the Jersey guys calls Moe a “mook” here, the best use of that mostly ignored put-down since Marty Scorsese’s Mean Streets), the Stooges are reunited and they lope off into the sunset uncomfortably on a trio of wild horses. It’s all good fun.

Quotable moments

“What do you think this is, The Sound of Music?” — Sister Mary-Mengele to the orphans, as they break into song.

“They’re like the holy trinity!” — An unsuspecting nun upon the delivery of the Stooges to the orphanage.

“Heavy lifting and ditch-digging — that’s their dream” — Moe on his brothers’ future plans.

“We caught this lounge lizard getting all handsy with the sisters” — Moe after delivering a physical drubbing to Monsignor Ratliffe.

Other observations at the moviehouse

  • For the first time in ages, the previews before this one contained no shooting, fireballs, brooding superheroes or dreaded director Ridley Scott. If it takes the Stooges to rid the trailers of violence and senseless violent beasts, bring ‘em on for some sequels!
  • The orange juice ad before the movie was quite appropriate given the 10 a.m. start time of this one. However, the concession stand needs to offer up bagels or cereal to form a complete breakfast for those starting the day with a movie.
  • NPR comes to theater soon for a cinematic version of the radio show This American Life. Liberals Unite! At least the liberals that aren’t headed to the “Grateful Dead Meetup at the Movies” this Thursday, April 19.
Dean Richards April 21, 2012 at 01:03 PM
With all respect, you people are reacting as though I've re-written the bible. You thought the new Stooges was funny. I did not. Yes, I did find American Reunion funny. You did not. We clearly have different tastes in comedy. What's the big crime there? When I review a film, I describe the content and offer an opinion if I think it works. I do not attack the people personally. You apparently disagree there too since you resort to Rush Limbaugh-like name-calling, character assassination to make your point, simply because someone has a different opinion. All any critic does is give an opinion. Plenty of people agree with me, some don't. There was virtually no laughter with the audience I sat in seeing the film. On rottentomatoes.com, it has only 46 % approval, not exactly overwhelming love, but again, it's just opinion. That said, Dave Wilson's assumption that I was offended that it "committed the cardinal sin of recreating..." is simply untrue. I was offended at how stupid the plot was. You're also wrong about the Muppet movie plot. They were trying to save their studio from a big oil interest. It's similar, but not an EXACT ripoff, which is what I said. Disagree all you want, but at least be accurate. Baskin-Robbins makes 31 flavors for a reason...there's something for everyone. Just because you like one flavor and I don't doesn't make either of us bad people. I'm glad you're all watching. Dean Richards WGN-TV and Radio
Alan C. April 22, 2012 at 06:49 PM
I took my 10 year old and we both thought it was the worst movie we've seen in a long time. You may like taking movie advice from your 14 year old but I should have listened to Dean. I agree with him, I guess there's something for everyone.
Karen Sorensen April 22, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Thanks for reading Patch, Dean, and for taking the time to respond. I suspect the reviewer went into the movie with your critique in his head, and ended up enjoying it more than he anticipated because of it. To me, that's half the fun of reading or listening to a review -- seeing how my opinion stacks up against the reviewer's. (And sometimes using it to save myself $8 or $10 and two hours I'll never get back.) But I couldn't agree more that in the final analysis, it's just one man's (or woman's) opinion and do with it what you will. Don't like my opinion, c'est la vie, but don't beat me up for having one ;-).
Sam Langham June 08, 2012 at 07:22 PM
The scene with the brothers at the end of the movie was their last joke. The brothers were played by two handsome male models--it wasn't the brothers! This is noted in the credits.

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