To be poifectly honest, 'The Three Stooges,' the latest slapstick farce that feels like one big gag from the Farrelly brothers and co-written with Mike Cerrone, is a completely unnecessary and largely unwanted motion picture which imagines the three iconic legends of comedy in a contemporary setting. And wouldn't you know it, I am nonetheless sort of glad it was made. I'm shocked to find some level of mild amusement in all the tomfoolery and the clownish buffoonery in this modern rendition of my most cherished working-class blockheads. I feel as if I'm committing sacrilege against the Holy Church of the Stooge Trinity by admitting this and even feared years of childhood memories would forever be crushed. Surprisingly, that did not happen, instead the film reinforces my admiration for Moe, Larry, and Curly and their wonderful contribution to the world of cinema.
Unfortunately, I can't really praise the film either because it's not all that good and there are far too many moments of just sitting there waiting for the next big prank. Several gags feel desperate or grossly shallow, done purely because the filmmakers couldn't come up with anything else for the trio to do. I'm thinking specifically of the pissing fight in the hospital nursery. I can't imagine Moe Howard wanting to stoop so low for a laugh. But based on what we do have, the nicest compliment I can muster is said best by the trio just prior to the hospital sequence: "It's colossal! It's stupendous! It's even mediocre!"
The more off color scenes are, of course, meant to attract younger viewers, to introduce the wild antics of true screen legends to a generation that possibly has never heard of The Three Stooges. But as noble a deed as that may be, and I'm fairly certain the kiddies in the crowd were yucking it up the whole time, the capers are not up to Stooge standards. How about a voice-recording overhead that says, "Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard," while they walk down the hospital hall in drag. Something for us Stooge fanatics to revel in and bust a gut along with the kids. Instead, the Farrelly brothers decide to sink further into trivial cultural references when Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos) is accidentally cast as the newest member of the 'Jersey Shore' series. As much as I enjoyed the bitch-slapping, head-bonking and Snooki eye-poking, the humor feels forced and unfunny.
However, in spite of the movie's several lowbrow and juvenile distractions, 'The Three Stooges' does come with some positives and a few genuine laughs, making the otherwise dreadful comedy into a surprisingly pleasant, easy-enough experience. The performances, for one, are not half-bad, especially Sean Hayes as Larry lighting up the screen every time he makes a silly pun, although he does scarily resemble Carrot Top in some spots. Will Sasso tends to overdo Curly's memorable physical shticks, but he also delivers lots of funny one-liners. The weakest link is Diamantopoulos's Moe though he has his moments, however minor. Sofía Vergara joins the cast as a trophy wife who hires the Stooges to snuff out her wealthy husband, and Craig Bierko is her lover playing along. Sadly, Vergara proves there's little else to her than a pretty face — but she's so good as the feisty, hotly-passionate Latina! — and Bierko annoyingly panders to the younger crowd as the film's jester. And Larry David takes the award for bringing in the most laughs as the grumpy, militant Sister Mary-Mengele,
The part of 'The Three Stooges' I liked most, and also thought it quite clever, was seeing the 90-minute three-story arc literally broken into three sections, like the original short-subject films with title cards, iconic music and everything. As an homage to the legendary comedic trio, this is the aspect which best captures the spirit and memory of their hallmark physical farces. The Farrelly brothers' movie never comes close to the genius, wit and sheer hilarity of the original classic trio — and frankly, no one can or ever will — but it's an agreeable tribute to one of the world's greatest indelible acts which have shaped the childhoods of many film lovers. I walked into it skeptical and expecting the worst, but came out pleasantly surprised the Farrelly's didn't completely muck this up.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment brings 'The Three Stooges (2012)' to Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack. The first is a Region A locked, BD50 disc while the second is DVD-9 copy of the movie with a downloadable Digital Copy. Both are housed on opposing panels inside a blue eco-vortex keepcase with glossy slipcover. The disc commences with a series of skippable trailers before greeting viewers with the standard main menu options, full-motion clips and music playing in the background.
'The Three Stooges' laughs it up on Blu-ray with an excellent 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.85:1). The freshly-minted transfer displays terrific, well-defined lines around the hair and clothing of the cast. Foliage and the surrounding architecture are sharply-detailed with revealing, naturally-rendered facial complexions. A couple sequences are only a hair softer than the rest of the picture, but they're not noticeable enough to distract. What are noticeable are the slightly wavering brightness levels during several scenes. For the most part, blacks are very deep and penetrating with crisp, often intense contrast levels, but they weirdly fade in some spots, which tend to flatten the image. Being a slapstick comedy, primaries are boldly animated and richly-saturated with full-bodied secondary hues, providing the picture with a good-natured and energetic appeal.
Although not exactly perfect, the high-def presentation is nonetheless a poifect one.
The comic trio delivers a few more chuckles with a highly-satisfying DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Rears are often employed for subtle ambient effects though they were never work to generate an immersive soundfield. The music and one or two action sequences do a slightly better job at that. Atmospherics are mainly there so as to enhance and broaden the imaging, which they do and keep viewers engaged. In the fronts, dynamics and acoustics are wide-ranging with room-penetrating clarity and excellent channel separation, creating a warm and welcoming soundstage. You can clearly make out every thump, poke, boing, ding, plop, clang, bonk, slap, smack, pop, whack, zing and any other onomatopoeic word you can think of. Dialogue is well-prioritized and intelligible in the center of the screen, making every stupid joke, remark, pun and Nyahhh-ah-ah! perfectly audible. Low bass is not very commanding, but it's appropriate and punchy considering the genre.
Supplements are ported over from the day-and-date DVD release.
Although far from good, or even genuinely worthwhile, the Farrelly brothers do what I thought impossible with 'The Three Stooges.' I walked into it highly skeptical and expecting the worst, but came out pleasantly surprised at this loving homage to one of the world's greatest and most indelible comedy acts. The Blu-ray arrives with excellent video and equally good audio, but the supplements are a bit lacking though a majority of them are high-def exclusives. It's difficult to recommend this latest farce from the Farrelly brothers, but it at least makes a decent rental for Stooge fans and families alike.