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Movie Review

The Three Stooges

MPAA Rating: PG for slapstick action violence, some rude and suggestive humor including language.

Reviewed by: Brian C. Johnson

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Primary Audience:
Teens Adults Family
1 hr. 32 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
April 13, 2012 (wide)
DVD: July 17, 2012
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

orphans in the Bible

Featuring: Sean Hayes … Larry
Will Sasso … Curly
Chris Diamantopoulos … Moe
Jane LynchMother Superior
Sofía Vergara … Lydia
Jennifer HudsonSister Rosemary
Craig Bierko … Mac
Stephen Collins … Mr. Harter
Larry David … Sister Mary-Mengele
more »
Director: Bobby Farrelly
Peter Farrelly
Producer: Wessler Entertainment
C3 Entertainment Inc.
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Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

“Just say Moe.”

To many readers over the age of 30, the name Three Stooges is synonymous with Saturday morning black-and-white shorts where Moe, Larry, and Curly bumbled their way through various escapades. The Farrelly Brothers (famous for such films as “There’s Something about Mary,” “Me, Myself, and Irene,” and “Shallow Hal”) are reintroducing the Stooges to a new generation who may have missed out!

For those who didn’t get to see the original series, the Three are Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos), Larry (Sean Hayes), and Curly (Will Sasso); they are lifelong friends who grew up in a Catholic orphanage under the strict care of several nuns (in this update the nuns include Jennifer Hudson and Jane Lynch as Mother Superior). The boys are destructive, and no one wants to adopt them. When the archdiocese wants to close the orphanage because of financial reasons, the boys (now adults who have never left the orphanage) go on a quest to somehow find the dough to keep their home open.

Let’s just put it out there—no one is getting an Academy Award for this movie. Some might walk away wondering why such a movie would get made in the first place. Violence galore (anyone familiar with the original Stooges is not surprised by this, at all—this is what they are known for)! Unnecessary attempts are made to sexualize certain scenes, and there is a very unnecessary scene with baby urine being sprayed in excess. Once again, as in most of their films, the Farrelly Brothers try too hard to be funny and try too hard to be sexy. Here’s a tip—write a good script and don’t play down to your audiences.

The charm of this movie (and perhaps its only saving grace) is the spot-on performance of Will Sasso as Curly. There is a great reminiscence factor in seeing these childhood friends on the big screen, for those of us over a certain age, but, overall, there’s not much going on here. I wouldn’t say don’t see it, but just go on a day where you have absolutely nothing better to do with your dollars—or just wait for the DVD or streaming service.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate—“Oh my God” (2), “Good Lord” (1) / Sex/Nudity: Moderate—cleavage, tight and revealing dresses, nun in very revealing swimsuit, foot on clothed breasts (accompanied by horn sound effect), lion's prominent scrotum (hit by peanut), bare baby bottom, lobster in Larry's pants

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

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Comments below:
Positive—I can’t remember the last time I saw a comedy where the large audience laughed out loud every 5 minutes or so. I recommend it. I expected a movie about the Three Stooges: their story. Instead, this movie is probably something they hoped to have made when they were alive. Anyone familiar with The Three Stooges slapstick format expects outrageous situations played for laughs, along with the Three Stooges trademark face-slapping, eye-poking, nose-whacking routines.

In addition to physical comedy, many of the laugh out loud moments were from the dialogue, which was fast-paced, hilarious, and worth seeing twice to catch what you missed the first time. Sean, Will, and Chris did such a truly astonishing job of portraying Larry, Curly, and Moe that, at times, it seemed more like watching a recently discovered color movie made during the Stooges” heyday. Not only did they have the slap-poke-whack routines down flawlessly, but their facial expressions, accents, voices, gestures, and reactions were beyond impersonations. It was not like watching guys who look like the Three Stooges in an homage to them, it was more like watching the original Three Stooges in color.

The story involves the boys trying to raise money to save an Catholic orphanage, getting duped into a murder-for-hire scam, and comedy ensues. No obscenities. One use of God’s name (upon seeing a sick girl and her little brother cared for by nuns, Larry says, “Thank God you’re still here.”) The only nudity is a brief view of a baby’s behind and later a very brief close shot of a male lion from behind.

Throughout the movie, a well endowed trophy wife wears tight clothing that accentuate her figure, and there are two brief sight gags involving her cleavage; more funny than offensive. There is also a scene in a nursery involving babies peeing, which parodies a water pistol fight. Otherwise, a funny fast-paced movie. Refreshing that the children in the movie are polite, grateful, and think of others. Part of the story involving Moe’s youth provides an explanation for his chip-on-the-shoulder disposition.

Many one-liners with modern references. My favorite was Curly with an iPhone. I also appreciated the bit before the credits where Bobby and Peter Farrelly take a moment to demonstrate rubber hammers and props used in the movie and to emphasize to kids to never, ever poke anyone in the eyes. It doesn’t come across as the clichéd “don’t try this at home” disclaimer, but more like a sincere, responsible “let’s get serious” moment. Ends on a good note, especially for parents. Overall, surprisingly funny and well done.

Loved the rendition of This Little Light of Mine; Larry gently lifting his hand in praise was great. There’s also a parallel with short-tempered Moe and a grouchy nun and the patience of those around them. Psalm 103:8; Proverbs 15:1, 8; and Ecclesiastes 7:9.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Tori, age 40+ (USA)
Positive—Absolutely hysterical. I haven’t laughed that much in years. Other than one actress with excess cleavage, the movie was clean, family-friendly, and let me repeat… hysterical. I went not expecting much. I figured it would be another old TV show turned into a bad movie… Scoobie Doo, Addams Family, Beverly Hillbillies, Flintstones… and the list goes on and on. This exceeded my expectations and is too funny to skip. As a child, I enjoyed the 3 stooges, but wasn’t a huge fan. The movie was side splitting funny.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Brad, age 40 (USA)
Negative—I do not agree with your review at all. I saw no redeeming qualities to this movie whatsoever. It was so bad, so gross, and so inane that I left after about 35 minutes. What a waste of my money and time. I grew up with the Stooges, and have even enjoyed watching them as an adult. They were goofy, and the violence somehow was not as hideous as the one in this Farrelly Brothers movie. The theater was nearly empty, and I think that is the result of the word of mouth around here. What a shame.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
Halyna Barannik, age 66 (USA)
Negative—…It should be rated “very offensive” or “extremely offensive.” This movie was extremely disrespectful toward the catholic religious! A nun in a type bikini? A lesbian actress playing a nun? Catholics taking the Lord’s name in vain? This has sacrilegious script written all over it. Why must Hollywood always make fun of Catholic life? Nuns are suppose to maintain a peaceful, non social life in the convent, not in trampy swimwear and swimming. I don’t care how clean some of the language was or how funny it was to some people. It wasn’t to me.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Anna, age 19 (USA)
Negative—I like the stooges and have all the shorts featuring Curley (about 100). The actors did a great job of impersonating the stooges, and I enjoyed much of the humor, which was in keeping with the flavor of the original shorts. However, this movie included several scenes which were unlike any in the stooges” shorts, due to their vulgarity. One example is the urinating babies scene. While they didn’t show any private parts of the baby boys, I just found this scene, which went on and on, to be particularly crude and not funny, at all. Compare this with “Sock-a-bye Baby,” where the stooges showed such tender care for an infant, rather than using him as a means of attacking others in such a disgusting way. I feel this is an insult to the stooges.

When a modernized version of a film is degenerate, that is a sad commentary on our culture. Unfortunately, we have been headed downhill.

As a sidenote, I read that Larry had a conversion to Christ during his final days in a hospital. I hope to see him in the future.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Art, age 62 (USA)
Negative—There is no other word for this movie than, “TRASH”. I’m not saying this from someone who didn’t love The Three Stooges, I think they, themselves, would be ashamed to have their names attached to this. First of all, there was never any language in any of their movies, didn’t take the Lord’s name in vain, nothing that I was ever ashamed of showing my boys. This movie, I wouldn’t even suggest them seeing, and they are all adults now. No point in giving a synopsis of the movie. They simply did it as 3 “mini-type” movies, as they used to show on television. However, I’ve seen less cleavage on rated R movies! The sexual double meaning comments, using the babies by holding them up and having a “urinating” fight, the shooting of the peanut up the anus of a lion with large testicles and showing it go in and then the lion going wild… comm'on, people!

I am ashamed to say that I kept it on and finished the movie, but that is required in order to leave a comment. No, I would not suggest this movie to anyone who knows that we give an answer before the Lord for what we see and hear. The humor was crude, the main woman in the movie (the wife of the orphan who was adopted instead of Moe) has her cleavage showing in every scene she’s in. She has an adulterous affair, and the man she is having the affair with, she gives a boost to help over the wall, , and he stands on her breast… closing in on the breast… and makes an obscene noise like the honking of a horn when he steps on it.

We had hoped for quite a lot from this movie, because we grew up watching them, but was very sadly disappointed that it couldn’t be more family-friendly… and more funny… the way The Three Stooges used to do it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
—Debbie Senese, age 49 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—I thought that this was a really good film, and I really hope that there is another one. I thought the costumes were excellent, the acting excellent, in fact the only thing that made me not put excellent and the overall rating was the language. There wasn’t a huge, huge amount of language but enough for me to remember that there was some. I would still watch it again though. Another thing that some people might be offended by is when Milady only has on a corset and skirt and cloak thing. I don’t find it offensive because you don’t see really see anything, but some people might find it offensive, so just to put it out there. I think this is a really great film, and I do recommend it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Connie, age 15 (United Kingdom)
Positive—…a funny movie. They realize that because they caused a mess, that they would have to fix it or the lives of many others would be altered… I personally enjoyed this and will definitely recommend it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Sarah, age 11 (USA)

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