Middle Row, Centre: Reprise of the Stooges

So it’s come to this, and so early in the post-Oscar film season.

Not quite the onset of the summer blockbuster season, the most popular film playing locally at this writing is The Hunger Games.

Its competition is American Reunion, the fourth in a series of replays of a crude comedy that first appeared in 1999.

Then there’s The Wrath of the Titans, a sequel to a remake of an insipid adventure saga.

Rounding out the field is Mirror, Mirror, a ham-handed revisit of the Snow White fairy tale.

Finally, there’s The Three Stooges, a remake featuring a comedy troupe so long in the tooth even I remember them.

As far as originality and fresh new film concepts are concerned, the current local fare represents slim pickings indeed.

It pains me to deliver my not-so-humble opinion that the best thing going locally right now is The Three Stooges.

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Its violence, at least, is of the time-honouredpoke-in-the-eyeball variety with which Larry, Curly and Moe transfixed those of us of a certain vintage, as we soaked up their idiocy from the Saturday matinee balcony.

The new Stooges come to us courtesy of theFarrelly Brothers, Bobby and Peter, who churned out such comedy hits as There’s Something About Mary, Me, Myself and Ireneand Dumb And Dumber, all noted for a certain degree of crass crudeness, but entertaining enough.

The modern Larry, Curly and Moe look-alikes capture the essence of the originals superbly, and the humour is as lowbrow as ever.

But there’s a wholesomeness sadly missing.

In updating the Stooges, the Farrellys also take a poke at contemporary mass entertainment. When someone on-screen refers to “those three idiots.” the comeback line is, “You mean the Kardashian sisters are back?”

Later, when Moe somehow becomes a reality TV star, he gets a chance to give the gears (and the finger—in the eyeball, of course) to Snooki and her gang of Jersey Shore morons.

Seinfeld‘s Larry David appears as Sister Mary-Mengele, a tyrannical nun at the orphanage where the infant Stooges are dumped in a duffle bag tossed from a speeding Dodge.

They prove to be thoroughly unadoptable. Some 20 years later, they’re still at the orphanage, now in the guise of fully-grown incompetent handymen.

When the orphanage is threatened with closure unless it can pony up $800,000 in back rent, the Stooges volunteer to venture into the wide world to raise the money and save the day.

In their bumbling fashion, they become enmeshed in a proposed contract killing on behalf of an attractive woman scheming with her boyfriend to off her rich husband.

The hackneyed plot is merely an excuse to trot out the trio’s trademark slapstick idiocy.

Although it’s no laugh riot, there are opportunities for ample chuckles.

I went to a Saturday matinee, partly to see how it would resonate with today’s kids, but the showing was so sparsely attended that it was hard to gauge a reaction.

Still, parents should have no fears, especially since the Farellys include a “don’t try this at home, kids” disclaimer as the end credits roll.

The Three Stooges plays at 7:00 and 9:10 pm at the Yukon Theatre, with weekend matinees at 1:00 and 3:10 pm. It is rated PG for violence.

Brian Eaton is a cinema buff who reviews current films and writes on other film-related topics on a regular basis.

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