Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Three Stooges: The Movie Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
The Farrelly Bros. (There’s Something About Mary, Dumb & Dumber) bring back a beloved classic comedy act with The Three Stooges, a contemporary take on America’s favorite trio of boneheads that has finally arrived on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.  Sean Hayes (“Will & Grace”), Chris Diamantopoulos (“24”) and Will Sasso (“MADTV”) portray the troika of knuckleheads in three hysterical misadventures along with Jane Lynch, Larry David, Stephen Collins, Sofia Vergara, Kate Upton, Craig Bierko, Jennifer Hudson, and more.  Even the "Jersey Shore" gang are here to take some punishment from Moe!

Film  (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

The original Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard) brought a lot of joy to many people including directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly who longed to bring the Stooges back to modern audiences. For over twenty years they talked and made plans about how they would bring the Stooges back and came close to making it happen several times. At different points, Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, Jim Carrey, Johnny Knoxville, and others almost starred in the reboot. As close as all of those efforts came, none of them came to fruition until a new cast was assembled that included Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos, and Will Sasso to play the love-able Stooges.

Keeping in with the spirit of the original Three Stooges shorts (you can read my review of the Three Stooges Ultimate Collection here), the movie is broken into three separate acts but with each one continuing the overall story.  The first act shows us the Stooges as young children who are abandoned at the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage where we see that their proclivity for destruction started long before we see them as adults.  The nuns at the orphanage (which includes Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson, Kate Upton, and a very funny Larry David in drag as Sister Mary-Mengele), are terrified of them and concoct a plan to only show Moe, Larry, and Curly while they hide the other children so they can be adopted and taken away.  By some miracle, Moe is adopted by a rich attorney named Mr. Harter (Stephen Collins) and his wife but when he requests that they also adopt Larry and Curly, they return Moe and adopt another kid named Teddy instead.

Cue twenty-five years later and the Stooges are still living at the orphanage and causing mayhem.  When the high ranking Monsignor Ratliffe (Brian Doyle-Murray) arrives to let everyone know that the orphanage is going to close unless they can raise $830,000 in thirty days, he gets attacked by the Stooges who think he is making advances on the nuns.  Since the orphanage is the only home that they know, the Three Stooges volunteer to go out into the world to raise the money to save the orphanage.  It's not long before the Stooges are approached by a woman named Lydia (Sofia Vergara) who has been looking for someone stupid enough to kill her husband for her and her lover Mac (Craig Bierko).  The Stooges are led to believe that the husband has an incurable illness and agree to do it to raise the money they need to save the orphanage.

They  mistakenly believe the target is Mac who had pretended to be Lydia's husband to convince them that he had the illness.  Lydia's real target is her husband Teddy (Kirby Heyborne) who is the same Teddy from the orphanage, but lucky for him the Stooges have mistakenly targeted havoc in a hospital.  When everything fails, the trio have an argument and split up, which happens in front of an audition crew that had been scouting for new talent for "The Jersey Shore" television show.  The producers love Moe's attitude and he is brought on the show as "Dyna-Moe" and in one of the highlights of the movie, Moe employs his slap-happy philosophy on the members of the "Jersey Shore" cast.  Eventually, the Three Stooges reunite to save the orphanage and save their friend Teddy once they discover that he is the actual target, but not before causing some more of their trademarked destruction.  

This new iteration of The Three Stooges is about the best tribute I could imagine.  The Farrelly brothers clearly love the Stooges and they couldn't have picked a better cast to recreate them.  Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos, and Will Sasso do an incredible job capturing the original Stooges' voices, mannerisms, humor, and routines.  Physical comedy is hard enough to do on its own, but having to do that while impersonating some legendary comedians has to be incredibly hard but they pull it off.  A lot of the routines in the movie were sampled from the original Stooge shorts and some of them are new or expanded upon.  The Three Stooges humor is alive and well in this movie so if you liked the original Stooge shorts you should enjoy seeing them in modern times as well.

Video (4 out of 5 stars)

This 1080p (1.85:1) transfer offers a strong and bright presentation that looks very nice on Blu-ray.  Colors are extremely bright, which is a change of pace for the Three Stooges since all of their shorts that I've been watching have been in black and white.  It would have been interesting if the Farrelly brothers had shot this film in black and white but if they did that, they would've had to set the movie in the past which they didn't seem to want to do.  In any case, flesh tones look natural and pink throughout the movie and the black levels are suitably inky and dark.  There's a nice amount of detail present and I didn't notice any glaring digital defects.  This may not be a perfect transfer, but it is a very strong one and fans of the movie should be pleased. 

Audio (4 out of 5 stars)

The Three Stooges' DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is also very good but not perfect, with a lively track that showcases all of the Stooges' hi-jinks.  The front channels deliver clear dialogue well enough and the rear speakers offer some light ambiance and the occasional directional sound effect.  What is really cool about this mix is the fact that the Farrellys' instructed their sound designer to go back to the original Three Stooges shorts and use their actual sound effects that they had used.  So the effects that you hear in the movie are the actual Stooge effects, only cleaned up for this mix which makes a huge difference.  In the extra "Did You Hear That" you can learn more about that effort and you will see what a difference those effects make in the movie.  The film's score by John Debney also sounds good here and it never overwhelms the dialogue or the action on the screen.  

Extras (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

I wish there were more extras but what is here is pretty good and they are all in high definition.
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes - A collection of eight deleted scenes which are mostly extending bits to the footage that's already in the movie.  The best bit that was cut from the movie is seeing the Stooges get shocked by an electric eel.
  • What's the Big Idea? A History of The Three Stooges - The Farrelly brothers talk about why they wanted to bring the Stooges back and we hear some of the history of the real Three Stooges.
  • Knuckleheads: Behind the Scenes of The Three Stooges - The Farrellys talk about the making of the film that's mixed in with some footage behind the scenes on location.
  • Did You Hear That? The Three Stooges Sound Effects - As I mentioned earlier, in this extra  we learn how the original Stooge effects were used in the movie and how they were cleaned up to be used again.
  • Poifect! Casting The Three Stooges - The Farrellys talk about casting the movie and assert that  Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos, and Will Sasso  were the perfect trio to bring back the Stooges and I agree with them.  We also hear from the cast themselves about their characters and why they wanted to be in the movie.
  • The Three Stooges Mash-Up - If you just wanted to see the highlight reel of all of the slap-happy Stooge action in the movie, then this is your extra. My son and I enjoyed it!
  • Original Screen Test - To reassure the studio that these three were the ones to be in the movie, this screen test was done to show just how good the three could work together.
  • Theatrical Trailer

Summary (4 out of 5 stars)

As a fan of the Three Stooges I am happy to see any kind of resurgence of their act and this movie is not only a great tribute to the Stooges, but it's also a funny movie in its own right.  This cast couldn't have done a better job bringing the Stooges back to life and they're surrounded by a great fantastic cast with great performance from Jane Lynch and especially Larry David.  This Blu-ray offers some excellent video and audio quality and the extras are pretty good too.  If you are fan of the Stooges, check this movie out and help keep the Stooges alive!

Order your copy today!

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