USA TODAY US Edition
Curly, Moe, Larry are up to old tricks
But slapstick, timely jokes make Stooges even funnier
Who else but the Farrelly brothers could combine the Three Stooges’ origin story with a murder plot and a slap-filled stint on MTV’S Jersey Shore?
There’s no shortage of nyuknyuk’s, woo-woo-woo’s and eye-poking, as expected in a movie about the mid-20thcentury slapstick comedy trio. But their knuckleheaded antics are set against a contemporary backdrop, which makes them more absurdly funny. Pop culture references intermingle with the loopy trio’s iconic foolishness, and the result is a movie with some big laughs, plenty of heart and terrible coifs.
Will Sasso is a hoot as the bald and doughy Curly, Sean Hayes perfectly captures the elastic sour face of bushy-haired Larry, and Chris Diamantopoulos nails the easily annoyed Moe, with his distinctive bowl-shaped ’do.
The three appear as babies on the doorstep of a Catholic orphanage, where the nuns in charge promptly dub them “angels from heaven.” Cut to 10 years later, and the odd-looking cherubs are now shorter versions of their buffoonish manly selves.
A chance for adoption comes up for Moe, but he doesn’t want to go without his two best buddies. So the three grow up together and are still a fixture at the orphanage at age 35. In their denim overalls, they toil at their “wirkshop” doing odd jobs very oddly indeed.
Off the job, they sleep stacked up together, snore in choral unison and get beaten at poker by small children.
But this blissful existence comes to a halt when it’s announced that, because of an economic downturn, the orphanage will have to be shuttered. The Stooges won’t have it. They vow to go out and raise the $830,000 it will take to keep the operation going. As they skid off the orphanage grounds on their bicycle built for three, Sister Rosemary (Jennifer Hudson) worries about how they will fare on the outside.
“God will protect them,’’ says Mother Superior (Jane Lynch), “because they’re pure of heart.’’
“And dim of wit,” adds Sister Mary Mengele (a very funny Larry David in drag, er, habit).
The puns and turns of phrase are as ridiculously amusing as the physical gags. A few misadventures misfire, but the orphanage antics are among the funnier moments, as are the trio’s inane forays at a hospital, a zoo and a ritzy garden party.
Beneath the trio’s poking, slapping and trademark vocal effects, there is an innocent sweetness. And they can sing.
In a rousing finale, the guys warble The Spinners’ It’s a Shame. Given Larry, Curly and Moe’s propensity for fighting among themselves, the lines are appropriately comical: “It’s a shame the way you mess around with your men/it’s a shame the way you hurt me.”
But there’s “soitenly” nothing shameful about The Three Stooges. It’s an unexpected treat, even for non-fans of the original trio’s slapstick comedy.