The problem with bringing forth iconic comedy characters like The Little Rascals or The Three Stooges into a modern film is that we aren’t getting the originals. For all of their talent and hard work, the three actors playing the title characters in Peter and Bobby Farrelly’s The Three Stooges are mere impersonators. They look like the real thing, they sound like the real thing (and so do the sound effects that are a part of their personas), but they aren’t the real thing. The timing is a little studied and the spontaneity simply isn’t there. As a comedy film, there are some funny moments with the expected slapstick and mayhem that goes hand-in-glove with the Stooges, but it isn’t a triumphant return for our boys.
The Three Stooges (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Running Time: 92 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: July 17, 2012
Review Date: July 18, 2012
When the orphanage where they were raised and have lived since infancy is about to be closed, Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos), Larry (Sean Hayes), and Curly (Will Sasso) volunteer to somehow raise the $830,000 needed to keep the doors open. Never having been out in the real world earning a living, the boys bounce from one catastrophe to the next until they agree to perform euthanasia on the "sick" husband of a voluptuous woman (Sofia Vergara) who’s secretly trying to bump off her husband (Kirby Heyborne) in order to get his money and live with her lover Mac (Craig Bierko). When the boys recognize who their victim is supposed to be since he was once an orphan with them as kids, they go to his father (Stephen Collins) to warn what the treacherous wife is up to, but he simply doesn’t believe the story of three knuckleheads.
The two directors have combined with Stooges expert Mike Cerrone to hammer out a script that can deliver the maximum amount of bad puns, absurd slapstick, and plenty of Stooge-inflicted mayhem as possible. In order to simulate the shorts we’re all so familiar with, the film is divided into three “pseudo shorts” (though with the story arc that is established in the original third of the movie). If the writers had really have wanted to do something unique, they would have come up with three completely different scenarios instead of making this one story arc across all three of these episodes. They also plunk the boys down into situations where they can cause the most havoc possible whether it be a hospital (the pissing baby shootout in the maternity ward is typical Farrelly tastelessness though it’s really the only major example of it in the film) or a snooty garden party where the boys clash with the snobs. Things get a little desperate when the boys squabble and split up sending Moe into the cast of Jersey Shore (though it does do a body good to see Moe poking and slapping those various “stars” in his own inimitable way), and the script tosses in old homilies like an orphan with a serious illness needing their help or the one battleaxe nun (played in bad drag by Larry David) always as the victim of their antics to less than fresh response. Of course, the Stooges we’re mostly familiar with are a black and white, 4:3 phenomenon, so the use of color and widescreen is just another wrinkle that seems to keep the viewer at a distance making it difficult to completely buy into these hard-working performers as the real thing.
It’s not for lack of trying that Chris Diamantopoulos, Will Sasso, and Sean Hayes don’t quite replace our memories of the original Moe, Curly, and Larry. Diamantopoulos in particular seems to have the vocal cadence exactly right, and as Moe is rather the instigator of the group, much of the heavy lifting in the film falls on him, and his is the most accurate of the three impersonations. Sasso does all of the famous Curly bits but without quite the physical agility of the original (in his defense, Sasso is quite a bit taller and larger than Curly Howard). Sean Hayes has more reaction than action to perform, and he does well with that, but he looks least like the man he’s portraying. Apart from Larry David’s drag performing dupe, all of the other talented actors in the cast (Jane Lynch, Craig Bierko, Sofia Vergara, Stephen Collins, Jennifer Hudson) pretty much play straight men and women to the three loonies letting them carry the ball for the entire film.
The film is framed in its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is presented in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Color saturation levels are rich and deep throughout the transfer offering up a consistently splendid picture with realistic and appealing flesh tones. Sharpness is mostly excellent, and the bright, snappy picture has been dialed in with excellent contrast. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack offers a decent but hardly outstanding movie comedy listening experience. As usual, the focus is toward the front channels with the rears used mainly for music cues and an occasional ambient sound. With all of the slapping and poking, however, very little of those famous sound effects ever leave the front soundstage. Dialogue is always understandable and is rooted to the center channel.
Apart from the theatrical trailer, all of the bonus featurettes are in 1080i.
There are eight deleted/extended scenes which are presented in montage form and cannot be viewed individually. The vignette runs 9 ½ minutes.
“What’s the Big Idea?” offers a history of the Three Stooges featuring Stooge expert Earl Benjamin and the directors and writers of the movie discussing the career and evolution of the Stooges over the decades. The best feature in the set (though still way too brief), it runs 10 ¾ minutes.
“Knuckleheads” shows us behind-the-scene glimpses of scenes being rehearsed and shot focusing specifically with the stunt scene involving Craig Bierko, his stunt double, and a fast moving bus. This runs 5 ¼ minutes.
“Did You Hear That?” focuses on the inimitable sound effects (in this movie culled from the original sound stems) necessary for a successful Stooge recreation. An interesting moment in this featurette occurs when a scene is played with the effects, without the effects, and then with other effects that weren’t the originals. This runs 4 ¼ minutes.
“Casting The Three Stooges” deals with the three actors who were inevitably cast (though no mention is made of other famous names who auditioned). We also see the three actors rehearsing their moves in several sequences over and over to get them perfect. This runs 3 ¼ minutes.
“Three Stooges Mash-up” is a compilation of several of the set pieces for the Stooges in the film. It runs 3 ¼ minutes.
The original screen test with the three Stooge actors in make-up and costumes (but with other actors playing the roles performed in the film by Craig Bierko and Sofia Vergara) show how attuned the actors were with one another even in the early stages. It runs 4 minutes.
The theatrical trailer is presented in 1080p and runs 1 ¾ minutes.
The disc is BD-Live ready¸ but there is nothing on the website but the trailer which is on the disc already.
The disc contains promo trailers for Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
The second disc in the set is the combination DVD/digital copy of the movie. Enclosed are instructions for installing the digital copy on PC and Mac devices.
3.5/5 (not an average)
Not nearly as funny as any of the classic Columbia shorts, the Farrelly Brothers’ The Three Stooges is a pleasant and occasionally amusing tribute to the famous slapstick comedians. Fans may admire the respect shown to the iconic comics, but the movie simply doesn’t find a unique charm of its own. (Don't miss the amusing coda, however, when actors Antonio Sabato Jr. and Justin Lopez masquerade as the Farrellys explaining the dangers of performing the Stooges' stunts at home.)