With their occasionally very funny The Three Stooges, the Farrelly brothers have rebounded somewhat from the comic abyss that was Hall Pass.
I’ll admit that as a lifelong Stooges fan (especially the ones with Curly!), I was both mildly curious and more than a little wary to see what the Farrellys have wrought–but the movie’s main assets are Moe, Larry and Curly—or should I say Chris Diamondopoulos who isn’t the physical ideal for Moe but nails the voice and mannerisms; Will Sasso, who makes for an exuberantly maniacal and likable Curly; and Sean Hayes who more than delivers, both vocally and physically as Larry, that most recognizably human, hence most underrated, underappreciated stooge (up till now, I’ve always thought the talented comedian Eric Vetter did the best Larry, but Hayes comes close). The writers Mike Cerrone and the Farrelly brothers have fashioned the film as a series of three episodes (or shorts) revolving around the Stooges” attempts to save their (extended) childhood orphanage through any means possible (within their limited mental abilities). The slapstick episodes are hit and miss, but the Stooges have amusing run-ins with Sister Mary Mengele (a part that Larry David was born for), Sofia Vergara and Craig Bierko as scheming , murderous lovers, and a well-known reality series (that this writer has no fondness for). However, the movie works best when Moe, Larry and Curly wreak havoc mainly on themselves and society with their blend of innocence, stupidity and savagery. The physical bits and sound effects that have pleased Stooges fans for decades are gloriously intact. As a side note, if the new Stooges leave you hankering for more, the original Three Stooges can be found all over the tube (if you have cable), whether it’s on IFC or American Movie Classics (more and more of a misnomer every day—but don’t get me started) and on DVD in some reasonably priced sets, courtesy of different labels. Seek them out.
I don’t know of anyone who was actually waiting for American Reunion, the latest American Pie installment, but here it is anyway, and to my surprise-it’s halfway good. Not the half that shamelessly tries to duplicate or exceed the not-so-tasteful parts of the first movies: the opening bit with Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), their cute young son-and certain desires that need to be satisfied—left me bereft of hope. And some of the wacky antics involving the cute next door neighbor whom Jim used to babysit—and has grown to a seductive almost eighteen-year old are a little over-extended. Yet having gone through a few reunions myself, the movie captures the restlessness in young adults who wonder if they’ve made the right choices ; the friendships that manage to endure despite distance and the intervening years; the ever-present fear of settling (as opposed to settling down). Lest I begin to make this sound vaguely Chekhovian, the proceedings are generally entertaining and buoyed by a very appealing cast that seems to be more interesting now than in the series’ glory days: Chris Klein (who missed the last outing and should work more) is likable and touching as Oz, now a conflicted sportscaster longing for Heather (Mena Suvari); Eddie Kaye Thomas’ Finch, a low-key, intelligent, self-styled adventurer with some secrets of his own; Sean William Scott, who finds the right balance as perpetually adolescent Stifler ; Eugene Levy as Jim’s widower dad, who just wants someone to go to the movies with. In addition, there are some appearances by characters from the earlier films (Shannon Elizabeth, Natasha Lyone) who, for various reasons, didn’t warrant their own plotlines, as well as some very amusing cameos, especially Rebecca DeMornay as a very attractive mother. This is not a reunion you may have necessarily wanted, but it’s an enjoyable one nonetheless.