The Three Stooges
Release Date: July 5
The Three Stooges seem like a strange fit for the 21st century because their humour has its origins in 1920’s vaudeville, and what was funny for our great-grandparents is not guaranteed to raise a laugh now. However the Farrelly brothers have managed to leap the ninety years between to create a new film that’s as comic as it is classic.
The Three Stooges opens at the very beginning of Larry, Curly and Moe’s lives. These three misfits are thrown from a passing car on to the steps of an orphanage by parents who already seem to have a premonition of the chaos they will cause. The nuns who take responsibility for their lives soon come to regret their charity. Everything that the boys turn their hands to takes a violent turn for the worse – including well-meaning dental operations on Sister Mary-Mengele (Larry David). A brief ray of light emerges from the clouds when it looks like Moe will be adopted by a well-meaning rich couple, but his insistence on bringing his brothers with him scuttles the plan.
25 years pass and the stooges grow up to be equally inept handymen – Sean Hayes, Will Sasso and Chris Diamantopoulos. Punning and punishing each other, they attempt to repair the orphanage bell which eventually collapses on Sister Mengele:
Moe: Is that Sister Mengele?
Curly: I don’t know, but her face rings a bell!
Just then the news arrives that the orphanage will be closed if it can’t raise $83,000 in 30 days. Larry, Curly and Moe set out like the Blues Brothers to save their home, involving themselves with an attempted murder, a reality television show and an ill-tempered lion along the way.
The Three Stooges is a real reminder of Saturday morning black and white TV with the feature broken up into three episodes much like the trio’s movie shorts stretching from the 1930s to the 1950s. What’s also intact is the stooges’ incredible physical comedy. At first I was worried about all the laughs linked to hammer-hitting, eye-poking pranks. As a father of three boys I could see those shenanigans requiring a lot of Bandaids at home. However the Farrelly brothers have hammed up the action and made the use of dummies just obvious enough to make it clear these are not repeatable stunts. And if that weren’t enough, seconds after the end of the film they appear on screen to warn kids that these are not the sort of jokes to do at home – “Poking people in the eyes isn’t funny.” But to be honest, when the stooges do it, it somehow is.
There’s also an interesting spiritual aside that parents might want to note. When Jane Lynch as mother superior ushers her crazy charges out into the world she says, “Like Moses in the desert, I believe the Lord will guide them because they are pure of heart.” Sister Mengele adds, “And dim of wit.” Popular culture has always held that Luck has a special fondness for fools, and the hapless stooges do seem to always land on their feet. However I think this belief finds its origin in the very real concern God has for those members of society least able to take care of themselves. Psalm 68 describes Him as:
“A father to the fatherless and a judge for the widow is God in His holy habitation.”
I’ve heard many people complain that this world is ‘not an even playing field’ but as the father of a boy with disabilities I’m happy to say that’s because God chooses to make it so. Though the strong may struggle, God has a special eye on the weak and the helpless. Call it luck.