|The Three Stooges|
Theatrical release poster
The Three Stooges|
by Norman Maurer and
|Music by||John Debney|
|Cinematography||Matthew F. Leonetti|
|Edited by||Sam Seig|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$54.8 million|
The Three Stooges (also known as The Three Stooges: The Movie) is a 2012 American slapstick comedy film based on the film shorts of the mid-20th century comedy trio of the same name. The film was produced, written and directed by the Farrelly brothers and co-written by Mike Cerrone. It stars Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes, and Will Sasso, re-creating the eponymous characters played by Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard. The film's story places the Stooges in a modern setting. After over a decade of casting problems, principal photography took place from May to July 2011. The film was released on April 13, 2012.
The film is composed of three acts, which are referred to as episodes (a reference to how the original Three Stooges short films were packaged for television by Columbia Pictures).
35 years in the past, the children at the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage are playing soccer with an old soda can in the front yard. But then, Sister Mary-Mengele, the meanest and strictest nun in the orphanage gets their attention by telling them to go inside and do their work. The kids sing "Everybody is Special", but she tells them to shut up and go to work. Later, infant versions of Moe, Larry, and Curly are dumped on the doorstep of the orphanage from an unknown person's car. Ever since, the trio has wreaked havoc in the place, leaving the nuns who run it utterly terrified, especially Sister Mary-Mengele, who has always hated the trio. Ten years later, out of desperation, when a prospective couple comes to adopt, the exasperated nuns bring out the trio as being the only three available, eventually being forced to add a fourth when another boy, Teddy, enters the picture. The couple, the Harters, decides to pick Moe, but when he requests Larry and Curly to join him, he is dropped back off at the orphanage, and they choose Teddy instead.
25 years later, in the present, the trio are adults, still living at the orphanage and working as maintenance men. Monsignor Ratliffe arrives to give everyone an important message. After Monsignor Ratliffe tells Mother Superior that the orphanage is going to close, she tells Sister Mary-Mengele to get the trio. However, the trio accidentally injures Sister Mary-Mengele when she tells them that Mother Superior needs them. They head to Mother Superior until another one of their accidents causes Monsignor Ratliffe to fall on top of the nuns. Monsignor Ratliffe gets attacked by Moe, Larry, and Curly, who think that Monsignor Ratliffe was getting fresh with the nuns. Eventually, Monsignor Ratliffe informs everyone that the orphanage will be forced to close down unless they can come up with $830,000 in 30 days. The trio volunteers to go out and try to raise the money somehow. Some of the nuns think that they will not be able to succeed because the only people they know are nuns and kids, but Mother Superior thinks otherwise.
A subplot involves a woman named Lydia, who wants to kill her husband so she can be with her lover, Mac, and inherit her husband's considerable fortune. She then finds the trio and offers to pay them the money they need to take care of the hit job. They botch the job by letting Curly push Mac (the supposed husband) in front of a bus and leave Mac in traction in the hospital. When they try to visit Mac in the hospital to finish the job, they are chased by the cops throughout the hospital and escape by jumping off the roof using a fire hose. They end up running into a now grown-up Teddy, who invites them to his anniversary party, but Moe refuses. It turns out that Teddy is actually Lydia's husband. Their next scheme for raising the money is selling farm-raised salmon, with them scattering salmon on a golf range and watering them like produce. But the same cops from the hospital arrive at the golf course to arrest them and the trio gets chased off the golf course and they hide in an old building (getting in by using Curly as a battering ram to bust down the door), where they have a slapstick fight. Larry then stops the fight, and he and Curly then scold Moe for rejecting Teddy's invitation and Teddy's father's earlier adoption attempt; they could have used his adoptive parents' wealth to help save the orphanage. Moe angrily yells at them by telling them that he doesn't care and also saying that he didn't need them. After deciding to split up, they leave the old building, with Moe left inside alone. Then it turns out that they were all on stage in front of an audition crew who select Moe to be the newest cast member of Jersey Shore as "Dyna-Moe".
Larry and Curly are getting along well without Moe, but they return to the orphanage, where they find out a girl named Murph is very ill but has not been taken to the hospital because the orphanage has no medical insurance. Sister Mary-Mengele tells them that no one will insure the orphanage due to the trio's numerous accidents and injuries over the years, and the $830,000 is needed in order to cover medical bills that accumulated over the years. Larry and Curly later meet up with Teddy's adopted father at his office to talk about what happened with the orphanage. Teddy's father confesses that Moe wanted him to go back for his friends to adopt them and he didn't want to so he gave Moe back and took Teddy in his place. Then Larry and Curly discover a picture of Teddy and Mr. Harter with Lydia and Mac and realize that Teddy is the husband that Lydia wanted to murder. In addition to this, they feel guilty for rebuking Moe in not accepting the Harter's adoption and decide to go find him.
Meanwhile, Moe has been causing a lot of havoc on Jersey Shore by slapping the cast members around and not putting up with their spoiled antics. The cast goes to the producer and tells him to kick Moe off of the show or sue him. The producer then informs them that the show is all about ratings... NOT them. Larry and Curly finally go to the set of Jersey Shore to reunite with Moe and they all head to the anniversary party where they show up to thwart the murder plot, getting in as balloon men. When they get inside, Curly gives all the balloons to a little girl and she floats up into the air. Later, they get chased by the angry Lydia and Mac after the same girl's balloons are popped and she falls onto the wedding cake, destroying it. Moe, Larry, and Curly are chased into Teddy's bedroom, finding Teddy on the bed, drowsy. Mac then draws a gun on the trio, but Teddy's dad appears and tells Mac to put his gun down. Mac then says Lydia was "calling the shots", but Teddy's dad confesses that he was "calling the shots". The trio then realizes that Mr. Harter was the real mastermind and Lydia was working for him. He married into the money and was incensed to find out the money was left to Teddy and not him when Teddy's mother died years earlier. They are taken for a ride, but the car crashes into the water when Curly's pet rat Nippy distracts them; then, they all escape when Curly passes gas, and they light it with "waterproof, strike-anywhere matches" that Larry had, causing enough of an explosion to blow out the windows. Once they are back on land, Mr. Harter, Lydia, and Mac are arrested, and Teddy thanks the trio for saving him. When the trio requests the $830,000 from Teddy, he says no, stating he refuses to help the same orphanage that gave him up to a father that tried to kill him, as well as sending him to military school when he was 7, among other things over the years.
A couple months later, the trio return to the now-condemned/abandoned orphanage. They then start crying for feeling like failures, but then they hear kids laughing, swimming and playing. When they investigate, they find out a whole brand new orphanage was built next door, complete with a swimming pool, a basketball court, and a tennis court. They soon learn that the money came from the Jersey Shore's producers who consider this as an advance payment in relation to a new reality show, Nuns vs. Nitwits, in which the entire trio will take part. Murph is revealed to be perfectly fine and her illness was due to poison in the cheese (really from rat traps in the attic), though Larry has always suspected it was from too much iron in the water. Then she, along with her friends, brothers Peezer and Weezer (the latter thought to have been lost forever to a foster home), will be adopted by Teddy and his new fiancee, Ling, who was Teddy's father's secretary. In the end, after causing one more incident (namely, Curly accidentally knocking Sister Mary-Mengele into the pool with a folded-up diving board, causing the sister to scream, "I'm gonna mash your heads like potatoes!!"), the trio run away and bounce off trampolines out of the orphanage and onto some mules, on which they ride away from the orphanage, off into the distance.
An epilogue consists of two actors playing Bobby and Peter Farrelly, explaining that the stunts were all done by professionals, showing the foam rubber props used in the film for the trio to hit one another, demonstrating the fake eye-poke trick (to the eyebrows), and advising children not to try any of the stunts at home.
During the end credits, a music video plays showing the Stooges and Sister Rosemary performing "It's a Shame", originally recorded by The Spinners in 1970, interspersed with excerpts from deleted scenes and a couple of brief outtakes. Though credited to "The Spinners and The Three Stooges", Hudson's own distinctive vocals can also be heard.
A Three Stooges film set in the modern day had been in development since at least the mid-1990s; Mad About You creator Danny Jacobson wrote and developed a version in 1997 that had Phil Hartman attached to play Moe. Conundrum Entertainment's Bradley Thomas became attached to The Three Stooges around 2000 with Columbia Pictures. In March 2001, Warner Bros. bought the feature rights from C3 Entertainment and Peter and Bobby Farrelly became involved. They along with co-writer Mike Cerrone completed the script in mid-to-late 2002 and began shopping it. In 2004, with no talent being attached to the project, their rights expired and it was acquired by First Look Studios and C3 Entertainment. In November 2008, MGM boss Mary Parent picked up The Farrelly's Warner Bros. scripts and the rights from C3 Entertainment, and was given a budget of $40 million with a release date of November 20, 2009. In March 2009, after struggling with casting delays, the release date was pushed to 2010, but the filmmakers still did not have a cast set. In November 2010, MGM filed bankruptcy and the following month the project was taken over by 20th Century Fox in hopes to have released the film in 2011.
The Farrellys said that they were not going to do a biopic or remake, but instead new Three Stooges episodes set in the present day. The film was divided into three segments, each with a stand-alone story, and each being 27 minutes long. The Farrellys aimed to receive a PG rating from the MPAA, while still incorporating physical comedy. In Britain several images were cut before the film achieved the equivalent rating. The Farrellys have also said it would have "non-stop slapping, more in the tone of Dumb and Dumber than we've done. Our goal is 85 minutes of laughs in a film that will be very respectful of who the Stooges were. It's by far the riskiest project we've ever done, without question, but it is also the one closest to our hearts."
In March 2009, Benicio del Toro and Hank Azaria were in consideration to play the lead role of Moe Howard. The role of Moe went to Chris Diamantopoulos.Sean Penn was already set to play Larry Fine but dropped out to concentrate on his charitable efforts in Haiti.Sean Hayes was chosen to play Larry. Jim Carrey was set to play Curly Howard and gained 40 pounds for the role but ultimately dropped out because of not wanting to endanger his health gaining 60 to 70 pounds. The role went to Will Sasso.Johnny Knoxville, Andy Samberg and Shane Jacobson were all on the short list to play Moe, Larry and Curly, respectively. As the Farrellys note in the DVD/Blu-ray featurette on casting the picture, Sasso was cast as Curly despite being considerably taller than the other Stooges (the original Curly was roughly the same height as Moe and Larry).
In December 2010, Richard Jenkins was in talks to play Mother Superior in the film. In February 2011, Cher was considered but Jane Lynch secured the role.Larry David plays another nun in the film called Sister Mary-Mengele, a character named after the infamous Nazi doctor.Sofía Vergara was cast as Lydia. Stephen Collins was cast as Mr. Harter and Carly Craig as his wife, Mrs. Harter. The cast of Jersey Shore (Nicole Polizzi, Michael Sorrentino, Sammi Giancola, Jennifer Farley, and Ronnie Ortiz-Magro) have cameos in the film.
On a reported budget of $30 million,principal photography started on May 9, 2011, in downtown Atlanta, Georgia and wrapped on July 20, 2011. Scenes were shot at the Fairlie-Poplar Historic District around 5 Points Sports Building on the corner of Peachtree St., Edgewood Ave., and Decatur St. on the evening and night of May 13 and wrapped the next day. On May 26, filming took place at Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta. Other locations included Piedmont Park, Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital, Zoo Atlanta, and Colony Square. In June, production moved to Cartersville and shot scenes near Woodland High School. After the cast of the Jersey Shore arrived on July 18, 2011, they shot scenes at the Atlanta Civic Center. During the last two days of filming, scenes were shot at an Ansley Park home. Filming concluded on July 22, 2011, at the Miami Seaquarium, a popular marine life park in Florida, capturing a scene in their dolphin tank.
To promote the film, Diamantopoulos, Hayes, and Sasso appeared as the Stooges on WWE Raw on April 9, 2012. They acted in several scenes, the first with Santino Marella, before later taking to the ring where they were booed by an infuriated crowd before Sasso, dressed as Hulk Hogan, received a chokeslam by Kane.
On its opening weekend in US, The Three Stooges earned $17.1 million and debuted second behind The Hunger Games. The film has grossed $54,819,301 in the box office, and at least $23,875,651 through US home video sales.
Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 51% based on reviews from 142 critics; the average rating is 5.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "While nowhere near as painful as it could have been, The Three Stooges fails to add fresh laughs to the Stooges' inestimable cinematic legacy."Metacritic gives the film a score of 56 out of 100, based on reviews from 26 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Despite the mixed reviews, Diamantopoulos, Hayes, and Sasso were praised for their performances as Moe, Larry, and Curly.
Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter described it as "[A] funny, good-hearted resuscitation of Hollywood's beloved lowbrow lunkheads", while Manohla Dargis of The New York Times lauded the film as a "thoroughly enjoyable paean to Moe, Larry and Curly and the art of the eye poke".Spill.com gave the movie a fairly good review, insisting that the movie is great for families, and hardcore Stooge-fans will not be disappointed. They also went on to praise the actors for their portrayal of the Stooges, saying the likeness was uncanny, and perhaps even Oscar-worthy. Roger Ebert gave the movie two-and-a-half out of four stars, stating "The Farrelly brothers have made probably the best Three Stooges movie it's possible to make in 2012, and perhaps ever since the Stooges stopped making them themselves." Some critics, however, complained about the forced pop culture references such as cameos by Jersey Shore cast members which were presumably done to ensure the movie would have youth appeal and not simply be a nostalgia trip for older audiences.
Betsy Sherman of The Boston Phoenix gave it three out of four stars, saying it was "funny and faithful", and added that the film contains "stories that could have graced [the Stooges]' 1930s shorts (raise money to save an orphanage, stumble into a greedy wife's plot) onto the present and imagine how they'd interpret modern concepts (farm-raised salmon)".
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine gave it two stars out of four, commenting that "the movie is a mixed bag. The gags don't blossom with repetition. The Stooges were always better in short doses. And 90 minutes of PG nyuk-nyuk-nyuk can seem like an eternity. For the Farrellys, The Three Stooges is a labor of love. For non-believers, it's merely a labor." Travers also praised the cast, stating "The actors deserve a full-throated woo-woo-woo!" adding that "Hayes, Sasso, and Diamantopoulos do themselves and the Stooges proud."
Bill Wine of KYW Newsradio 1060 in Philadelphia commented that "no one's going to confuse The Three Stooges with a transcendent movie anytime soon, but the Farrellys do capture and reproduce the anarchic spirit and uninhibited essence of the Stooges--soitenly and poifectly, as the Stooges would put it--and remind us why they had such a hold on some of us in decades past. The three leads are expert mimics--especially Hayes...they acquit themselves admirably..."
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League anti-defamation organization, released a statement condemning the movie on the grounds of disrespectful portrayals of Catholics, specifically nuns. Donohue claims that the movie is evidence of increasing hostility towards religion and Catholics in Hollywood, commenting "In the 1950s, Hollywood generally avoided crude fare and was respectful of religion. Today, it specializes in crudity and trashes Christianity, especially Catholicism." Donohue added that the movie "is not just another remake: it is a cultural marker of sociological significance, and what it says about the way we've changed is not encouraging."
Donohue pinpoints one scene in which the film pushes the envelope with its portrayals of two unusual nuns, portrayed by the swimsuit model Kate Upton, and Curb Your Enthusiasm creator Larry David. Both are potential causes for the offense for different reasons, as Moviefone reports:
In Stooges, David portrays Sister Mary-Mengele. The name is a nod to the late Nazi Josef Mengele, an SS Officer who decided the prisoners' fates at Auschwitz. As for Upton, it's not so much her character's name--Sister Bernice--as it is her attire. During one scene, the SI swimsuit model dons a very revealing bikini along with a large rosary around her neck.
To resolve the issue, the Farelly brothers reshot the scene with Larry pointing out Sister Bernice, still wearing the "nun-kini" while on lifeguard duty at the new orphanage's pool. Close-up footage of Upton exiting the pool in front of a group of children appears in the film's trailer, but not in the movie itself nor DVD/Blu-ray deleted scenes; in the final film, she is only seen sitting in a chair and briefly in the background of a group shot while in her swimsuit (in her other scenes, she is dressed in standard nun attire).
The cast of Jersey Shore were each nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screen Couple for their work on the film, but lost to Mackenzie Foy and Taylor Lautner for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2.
The Three Stooges was released on DVD and Blu-ray on July 17, 2012. The release includes behind-the-scenes featurettes, a screen test featuring the three lead actors testing out a scene later reshot for the movie, and a selection of deleted scenes. Of note is the inclusion of the theatrical trailer which, as mentioned above, contains numerous differences compared to the final film.