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The Three Stooges: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Review

The Three Stooges (2012) movie poster The Three Stooges

Theatrical Release: April 13, 2012 / Running Time: 92 Minutes / Rating: PG / Songs List

Directors: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly / Writers: Mike Cerrone, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly

Cast: Sean Hayes (Larry), Will Sasso (Curly), Chris Diamantopoulos (Moe), Jane Lynch (Mother Superior), Sofia Vergara (Lydia Harter), Jennifer Hudson (Sister Rosemary), Craig Bierko (Mac Miosky), Stephen Collins (Mr. Harter), Larry David (Sister Mary-Mengele), Kirby Heyborne (Teddy Harter), Carly Craig (Mrs. Harter), Kate Upton (Sister Bernice), Marianne Leone (Sister Ricarda), Brian Doyle-Murray (Monsignor Ratliffe), Michael Sorrentino (The Situation), Nicole Polizzi (Snooki), Jenni "JWoww" Farley (JWoww), Ronnie Magro (Ronnie), Samantha Giancola (Sammi), Avalon Robbins (Murph), Max Charles (Peezer), Jake Peck (Young Teddy), Patty Ross (Head Nurse), Lee Armstrong (Officer Armstrong), Emily Coligado (Ling), Ray Collins (Carbunkle), Isaiah Mustafa (Moe's Hip Executive), Skyler Gisondo (Young Moe), Lance Chantiles-Wertz (Young Larry), Robert Capron (Young Curly), Lin Shaye (Nurse Crotchet), Dwight Howard (Himself), Antonio Sabato Jr. (Bobby Farrelly), Justin Lopez (Peter Farrelly)

Buy The Three Stooges from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy • DVD • Instant Video

After two of their first three films became smash hits at the box office, it seemed as though writers/directors/brothers Peter and Bobby Farrelly were the new kings of comedy. In the years following Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary, though, the Farrellys have gradually but clearly relinquished some of their clout and appeal. The last time the siblings had a movie cross even the $50 million mark domestically was all the way back in 2001 when Shallow Hal turned a healthy profit in the wake of September 11th.
More recent efforts, whether sweet and PG-13 (Stuck on You, Fever Pitch) or raunchy and R-rated (Hall Pass, The Heartbreak Kid) have failed to connect with audiences in the way their early blockbusters did. The same critics who heaped high praise on Mary have offered mild approval at best on the duo's later works.

No longer expected to be either commercially transcendent or utterly outrageous, the Farrellys had nothing really to lose by finally coming around to make a movie that they had long been attached to. Far from cutting-edge, this project would celebrate one of the brothers' and many other comedy filmmakers' most sacred influences: the Three Stooges. Pioneers of slapstick, the Stooges rose to prominence in the 1930s and spent the next two decades making 20-minute comedy shorts. The gang performed in different incarnations over the years, with two constants (Moe Howard and Larry Fine) being joined by a quartet of thirds, as illness and death required. The famous shtick persisted all the way into the early 1970s, but it is naturally the earlier work that is more revered. And though most cultural icons of the 1930s and '40s have faded in popularity, the Stooges continue to be appreciated and acknowledged by those who make or simply enjoy comedy.

Understandably, news of a Three Stooges movie drew mixed and mostly negative reactions from the public. After all, fans had reason to suspect that the Farrellys, with their penchant for gross-out humor, wouldn't be able to stay true to the team's antiquated physical comedy. And those who didn't care for the Stooges' broad hijinks would most likely not care for a new interpretation of them. However, cinema fans had to be at least mildly intrigued by the big name actors reportedly desired for the classic lead roles: two-time Academy Award winner Sean Penn as Larry, two-time Farrelly leading man Jim Carrey as Curly, and Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro as Moe. While a Carrey/Farrelly reunion kind of made sense (though the actor would have to gain weight and shave his head for the part), Penn had largely avoided comedy for decades and Del Toro long gravitated towards dark fare.

Nothing about that casting sounded right and ultimately none of it would be realized. Instead, the Farrellys would get actors more likely to headline a TV movie: "Will & Grace"'s Sean Hayes as Larry, "Mad TV"'s Will Sasso as Curly, and journeyman Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe. With these stars onboard, the Farrellys' The Three Stooges could be made at a reasonable budget of just $30 million.

Larry (Sean Hayes), Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos), and Curly (Will Sasso) advertise their services with sidewalk spectacle.

Comprised of three approximately half-hour segments, the film opens with the title characters as infants. In a zipped-up duffel bag, they are dropped on the steps of the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage. Mischief soon follows and aside from one near-selection of Moe, the trio has got no real chance of being adopted. Thirty-five years later, the Stooges are still at the orphanage, as are the largely ageless staff, from the kindly Mother Superior (Jane Lynch, playing against type) to the cranky accident-prone Sister Mary-Mengele (Larry David, playing against gender, ethnicity, and medium) to the younger nuns Sister Rosemary (Jennifer Hudson, playing against better judgment) and Sister Bernice (swimsuit model Kate Upton, playing against profession), whose actors' talents (singing voice, curves) are briefly written into the parts.

As adults, wild-haired Larry, violent Moe, and pun-cracking Curly are stupid and bumbling to varying degrees. Their work as the orphanage's handymen inevitably produces results as disastrous as you can imagine when mixing such elements as a chainsaw, a tall ladder, and a large bell. Deciding that the movie can't just be fun, yucks, and non-fatal injuries, the Farrellys and their top-billed co-writer (Me, Myself & Irene's Mike Cerrone) include a standard-issue plot to give the film arcs and form. Unless they can raise $830,000 in thirty days, the Sisters of Mercy will see their orphanage closed. Not realizing they are to blame for the financial problems, the Stooges nonetheless vow to earn the needed funds to save their home and the only family they know. In other words, this is The Blues Brothers with idiots instead of music.

The Stooges think they've walked into a quick fix, when Lydia (Sofํa Vergara) offers them precisely $830,000 to knock off her husband, who she claims is sick and suffering. In fact, her husband is healthy and an old childhood friend of the Stooges, while the mustachioed man posing as her spouse is in on a scam to give Lydia both her independence and a huge inheritance. If this crime plot sounds somewhat sophisticated for the movie, it largely stands as an excuse for the fake husband (Craig Bierko) to take a bus hit and wind up in intensive care wearing a full body cast.

The Stooges get to play doctor and nurse, engaging in their signature slapstick complete with poked eyes, clocked heads and the corresponding sound effects. But the movie also wants to take their plight seriously and thus divides the gang, with brains of the operation Moe going his own way and winding up on "Jersey Shore", whose cast is undeservedly granted cinematic immortality here.

Kate Upton, Jane Lynch, and Jennifer Hudson portray three of the nuns in place at the Stooges' childhood home, the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage. Lydia Harter (Sofia Vergara) hires the Stooges to kill her husband, though her offer is deceptive.

The Three Stooges is perhaps slightly less terrible than expected. The Farrellys possess a clear admiration for the source material and seem determined to pay it faithful tribute. But transposing the characters to modern times for iPhone, tweet, and reality television jokes is just as unfortunate as it sounds,
failing both the classic Stooges fans and those just expecting a diverting contemporary comedy. The three leads do an impressive job of immersing themselves into the roles, wisely recognizing that this could very well be the most prominent showcase they or anyone else will have for physical comedy. The long, esteemed tradition to which this adds also arms critics and viewers with more tolerance than they would bring to an original movie as broad.

And yet, there are no real laughs to be had. The Stooges' over-the-top antics are quite at odds with the sweet, tender feature film mold into which the Farrelly Brothers want to fit them. Thus, the movie occupies an unfortunate middle ground unlikely to truly win over anyone, with its mix of live-action cartoon violence and gentle sentimentality accompanied by nostalgic or contemporary tunes.

In the preview article I wrote a month prior to the film's release, I predicted from the trailer that The Three Stooges would both earn one of the year's lowest scores on Rotten Tomatoes and sputter at the box office. My exact words on the latter: "I'd be shocked if this grosses more than $30 M domestically." I've got to admit I was wrong on both fronts. The film grossed $44 million domestically, utterly in line with the Farrellys' modest other recent output. And though its 50-51% Tomatometer rating still deems it rotten as anticipated, that is a far cry from the year's worst; in fact, it's very likely above-average among all 2012 movies (though to date I've only seen one other release I've thought as little of: This Means War).

The Three Stooges is now available to own on DVD and in the two-disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy combo pack we review here. Two interesting choices by the home video cover art warrant remark. Firstly, the title has been changed to The Three Stooges: The Movie (the film itself remains unchanged), which obviously serves to distinguish this from the countless releases of the original Stooges' countless efforts. The other unusual marketing department decision is to have a sign held by Curly, Moe, and Larry, which might logically have held the film's title, instead display Maria Salas of Terra.com's career-making quote "Fun for the whole family!" (which actually must be a translation given that it's a Spanish language site) and a large PG rating that is clearly a point of pride (it's also the Farrellys' first since Osmosis Jones!).

The Three Stooges: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

1.85.1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Descriptive Service, Spanish, French)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
DVD Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: July 17, 2012
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available in standalone DVD ($29.99 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

No matter what your comedy tastes, The Three Stooges' flawless Blu-ray presentation is sure to wow you technically. The 1.85:1 transfer is just as sharp, clean, and vibrant as you expect a major studio film to be in 2012. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio also more than satisfies, with crisp dialogue, potent effects, and prominent display of music, which varies from the Allman Brothers and Bob Dylan to LMFAO and Foster the People.

Larry, Moe, and Curly wrestle a primitively-animated electric eel in this deleted scene. Short clips of classic Three Stooges shorts appear in "What's the Big Idea? A History of The Three Stooges."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACAKGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's all-HD extras slate begins with a group of eight deleted/extended scenes (9:29). There's less of note than you'd expect of a short comedy, with a lot of this material appearing in the film. Perhaps the most notable cut is an electric eel gag at the lavish anniversary party.

"What's the Big Idea? A History of The Three Stooges" (10:39) is less thorough than that title suggests, but does give us background on this long-developed film, an endorsement from Moe Howard's great granddaughter (who plays a nun in the film), and a chronology of the Stooges' classic run (with plenty of short clips in passing).

"Knuckleheads: Behind the Scenes of The Three Stooges" (5:11) focuses on the film, briefly taking us through the challenging stunts and "Jersey Shore" cast involvement of "the hardest movie" the Farrelly Brothers have ever made.

Writers-directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly demonstrate the comic value of slapstick sound effects in their "Did You Hear That?" demonstration. Nicky Whelan and an actor perform the Sofia Vergara and Craig Bierko parts in this original Stooges movie screen test.

"Did You Hear That? The Three Stooges Sound Effects" (4:11) discusses
and demonstrates the value of comic sounds accompanying what the MPAA labeled "slapstick action violence."

"Poifect! Casting The Three Stooges" (9:12) completely glosses over the big names once attached to this picture and instead lavishes praise on the actors actually chosen. It proceeds to discuss the recreation of certain slapstick gags.

"The Three Stooges Mash-Up" (3:10) sets tightly-edited clips from the film (and perhaps a few that aren't) to famous classical melodies.

"Original Screen Test" (4:06) shows us the cast looking the parts and acting out largely unchanged bits from the final film. Hall Pass' Nicky Whelan plays the Sofia Vergara character here.

The Three Stooges' original theatrical trailer (1:40) is preserved and noteworthy for including a few bits not in the movie or among the deleted scenes.

The "Sneak Peek" section provides individual and group access to the same three ads with which the disc loads, for Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, "The Blu-ray Experience", and, slightly less than family-friendly, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

A "Live Extras" section lets you stream or download timely trailers and Blu-ray bonus feature excerpts from recent and upcoming Fox films. The section was kind of buggy/incomplete for me and held nothing more than a trailer as far as Stooges is concerned.

The combo pack's DVD is void of bonus features, apart from transferrable digital copies in three formats. They are not replacing much; the DVD sold on its own includes only the deleted/extended scenes and the mash-up.

In footage no doubt from the end credits' musical number, the Stooges appear briefly to present their standard main menu montage. The Blu-ray supports bookmarks and also resumes playback.

The two discs take opposite sides of a standard Eco-Friendly Blu-ray case topped by a slipcover and accompanied by an insert of digital copy code/directions.

The Three Stooges have been clowning around since youth (Lance Chantiles-Wertz, Skyler Gisondo, and Robert Capron). And they still haven't grown out of it, as their hospital shenanigans reveal.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

With The Three Stooges, the Farrelly Brothers have about as much success as they can transposing a comedy property that became popular over eighty years ago, which is not very much. The directors stay fairly true to the characters while placing them in a film more palatable to modern viewer tastes. It's just not at all very funny.

Fox's Blu-ray offers a flawless feature presentation and an okay 50 minutes of extras. It's not a bad set if you enjoy the film and see yourself itching to watch it again and again, but unless you're a 7-year-old boy from the 1930s, that is doubtful.

Buy The Three Stooges from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Written and Directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly: Hall Pass • The Heartbreak Kid
Get Smart • Zookeeper • Old Dogs • 3 Idiots • Mr. Bean's Holiday
Sofia Vergara: The Smurfs • Modern Family: The Complete First Season
Jane Lynch: Glee: The Complete First Season • Mr. TroopMom | Will Sasso: College Road Trip | Sean Hayes: Igor
Written by Mike Cerrone: Homie Spumoni

The Three Stooges Songs List: "Stooge Emblem (Main Title)", Sisters of Mercy Orphans - "Everybody Is Special", The Modern Lovers - "Roadrunner", The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - "Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G-Allegro", Beirut - "A Candle's Fire", Steriogram - "Walkie Talkie Man", "Pulled Up", Sister Rosemary and The Three Stooges - "This Little Light of Mine", Grouplove - "Tongue Tied", "Stooge Emblem (End Title)", "Three Blind Mice (Main Title)", "Jeopardy Theme", Bobby Morganstein - "Perry Mason Theme", Buva - "Can't Stop Thinking", "Turkey in the Straw", New York Dolls - "Dance Like a Monkey", "Pop Goes the Weasel", "Three Blind Mice", Circus Finale, The Allman Brothers Band - "Jessica", LMFAO - "Get Crazy", Billy Goodrum - "Garage Lunch Rock", Charlie Rich - "Feel Like Going Home", Foster the People - "Waste", Billy Goodrum - "Take a Chance", "Sweet 'N Lo", "Liquid Love", Billy Goodrum - "Any Day Now", Papio Vazquez - "Si Se๑or Bob", Billy Goodrum - "On Cue", Bob Dylan - "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues", "Three Blind Mice (End Title)", The Stooges - "3 Stooges", The Spinners and The Three Stooges - "It's a Shame"

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Reviewed July 29, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2012 20th Century Fox, Conundrum Entertainment, C3 Entertainment, and Fox Home Entertainment.
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