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It’s rare that a truly great film hits theaters this early in the year. Usually Hollywood stays true to its decades-old formula of releasing duds January through April, blockbusters during the summer and then the more “serious” films throughout the fall and winter.
There are, of course, exceptions. Often these exceptions occur by accident, because the film industry underestimates or misjudges a particular film project, the perfect example being “The Godfather” – one of the greatest American films ever made – which was bashed by studio executives and was therefore released with little advertising in March of 1972.
Hollywood executives, however, made no such mistake with the new Farrelly brothers movie “The Three Stooges.” In other words it fits right in with the other garbage currently wasting celluloid in a theater near you (i.e. “Wrath of the Titans,” “Mirror Mirror,” the list goes on).
In this updated version of the beloved 1940s and ‘50s television series, Larry (Sean Hayes), Curly (Will Sasso) and Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos) are employed as maintenance men at their childhood orphanage. When the only home they’ve ever known falls on hard times, the inept trio feels obligated to do whatever it can to rescue its beloved nun-run foster care facility from impending financial doom. If that plot sounds familiar, it’s because it is.
Predictably enough all hell eventually breaks loose; nuns start running around wearing bikinis, a voluptuous Hispanic woman plots to murder her husband, and somehow one of our three heroes becomes a star on a reality TV show. Needless to say, it’s all rather stupid and convoluted.
But perhaps it’s not fair to judge a slapstick comedy simply on the basis of its plot; even in the best instances of screen slapstick, the storyline is often merely treated as a secondary concern, inconsequential but necessary in providing a framework in which a truly great comedian can work magic.
It is fair, though, to judge a slapstick comedy on the basis of its slapstick comedy, and in this regard the film falls well short of anything magical. The comic gags are just as predictable and clichéd as the recycled plot, and the three lead performances come across as cheap imitations of the originals.
After enduring 92 minutes of nyuk-nyuking, eye-poking mindlessness, I walked out of the theater relieved I made it through and thankful I resisted the temptation to poke my own eyes out.
By Mike Presberg