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20th Century Fox

The Three Stooges

Movies | This version is no classic, but it's still better than a poke in the eye

Issue: "Return to war?," May 5, 2012

Moe, Larry, and Curly may be the stupidest guys you-or your parents or their parents-have ever seen. Which is, of course, the reason we've paid good money to watch them poke, slap, gouge, hammer, and nyuk each other for nearly a century now.

Directed by the Farrelly brothers (Dumb & Dumber), this generation's adaptation is as stupid as ever. Our three anti-heroes arrive as infants at a Catholic orphanage, and there they grow up under the loving, if distraught, eyes of the Sisters of Mercy. By the time the Stooges reach adulthood, their antics have caused so much damage that the property has to close its doors. So, they set out to raise enough money-$830,000 to be exact-to keep the Sisters of Mercy and their children together. It's a soul-searching journey, filled with hard knocks, police chases, and a little shameless pandering to the pop-culture crowd. (Moe, played by Chris Diamantopoulos, shares screen time with Jersey Shore's Snooki and JWoww.)

Where the film relies on tried and true slapstick, it manages quite a few laughs. Curly (Will Sasso) climbing up a wooden ladder with a running chainsaw strapped to his tool belt is snort-through-your-nose funny. The Stooges' fighting is as finely choreographed as any Dance of the Swans. And then there are the "punny," though sometimes crass, signs littered throughout the film (i.e. Kickam, Harter, and Indagroyne).

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Unfortunately, as a whole, the movie just isn't that funny. It's jarringly empathetic at times, with dying orphans and heartfelt scenes of reconciliation obtruding on the mindless-laughing-at-stupid-guys experience. And even if you aren't bothered by an assisted suicide subplot, the lobster in the pants shtick, or the scene in which Larry's pet rat gets stuck in an actress' cleavage, one scene of a nun in a mostly see-through bathing suit is decidedly offensive.

So, with its PG rating for "slapstick action violence" and rude and suggestive behavior and language, this version of The Three Stooges is no classic. But it's still better than a poke in the eye.

Emily Whitten
Emily Whitten

Emily reviews books and movies for WORLD and is a contributor at She homeschools her two children and sees books through the eyes of a mother.


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