Monday, 1 April 2013



Saying this is the funniest movie I've seen recently is not really saying very much at all. First off, there have only been two other comedy films, The Campaign and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, and neither of them have been close to funny enough in their comedy, settling instead for overrated stars mugging and shouting to no great effect. Secondly, let's not kid ourselves: this is rubbish, and even the eight-year-old it's aimed at will probably be unimpressed with its steady stream of halfwits repeatedly gouging each others eyes out and beating each other round the head with hammers (not that they should be watching it anyway, given its 12 certificate). It might have a couple more smiles than those other films but that's no more an indication of quality than saying the Amityville Horror remake is "better" than the Friday The 13th remake.

It's less a reboot of The Three Stooges than a meticulous tribute act, right down to the crazy hair and properly timed idiot slapstick. The plot, for what it is, has Larry, Curly and Moe leaving the orphanage twenty years after being dumped there and attempting to raise $830,000 to save it from closure: they end up in the big city and get roped into an absurd murder scheme as well as Moe winding up on reality show Jersey Shore. All the while they punch each other, jab each other in the eyes and hit each other with large metal objects, and at the end two people claiming to be the directors (they're not) turn up and exhort the audience not to mimic the stunts and physical slapstick, demonstrating the rubber sledgehammers and sound effects tricks, presumably so there won't be lawsuits from parents.

That this xerox of ancient Stooges shorts manages to be measurably funnier than contemporary Hollywood comedies like The Campaign says more about current comedy cinema than it does about its own merits. It's got a decent supporting cast, including Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson and Larry David as nuns and Craig Bierko as the obvious villain (and something called "Snooki" turns up as well). And it generally avoids the bad taste you tend to expect from the Farrellys. But bringing back the idea of the Three Stooges is such a peculiar idea anyway - what's next, Old Mother Riley? Wilson, Kepple and Betty? Its mix of senseless violence, wordplay and stupidity is a style of comedy that's perhaps out of date, and it has seemingly been recreated in impeccable detail more out of nostalgia for the Stooges of half a century ago rather than the desire to produce a halfway decent comedy that'll stand on its own. It's rubbish, and probably the most moronic film you'll see all year, but bafflingly less rubbish than "real" comedies.



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