At the end of the new The Three Stooges movie, there's a disclaimer. Two guys, claiming to be the Farrelly brothers, who directed the new movie, show the audience that the hammers and other tools used on screen are made of foam, so when the characters are bopped on the head numerous times, they aren't actually hurt.
The trademark poke-in-the-eye routine is just an illusion, they insist. And the sizzling waffle irons on human flesh are for comic effect (they're used to shock a body back to life). Kids, don't do this at home.
Must be a sign of the times.
When the real Stooges were at the peak of their popularity in the mid-20th century, no one thought to issue such a disclaimer, even though Larry, Curly and Moe (and later Shemp) slapped, hit, smacked, prodded and poked each other throughout every side-splitting comic segment.
When the real Stooges were at the peak of their popularity, no one thought to issue a disclaimer, even though Larry, Curly and Moe slapped, hit, smacked, prodded and poked each other throughout every comic segment.
In less litigious times, it wasn't necessary to worry about getting sued.
Back then, the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote could race off a cliff and no one would worry that they had died because they would come back in the next segment raring to go.
In the movies and on TV, everyone smoked cigarettes, couples slept in twin beds and women rarely worked outside the home. (On second thought maybe things haven't changed that much because that sounds exactly like the 2012 Republican platform.)
Peter and Bobby Farrelly were born in 1956 and 1958 respectively, so they grew up during a time when black-and-white Three Stooges comedies ran nearly nonstop on TV every Saturday. Even after all these years, I can practically recount every word of the famous "Niagara Falls" segment.
Regretfully that segment is not part of the new movie, which opened in theaters Friday. But a lot of the familiar routines and shenigans are part of 2012 version, although the actors who portray the Stooges— Sean Hayes as Larry, Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe and Will Sasso as Curly — are not nearly as talented comics as the originals. Hayes, who shot to fame as the sidekick Jack in Will & Grace, looks downright scary with a bald pate and fright wig.
At one time Benicio del Toro, Sean Penn and Jim Carrey were attached to the project before they dropped out, and one can only wonder what kind of Stooges movie would have resulted from that pairing. I'm guessing brilliant, although it might have been a train wreck. But it certainly would have been more interesting than the tepid movie that was made.
My favorite headline about the brouhaha: "Kate Upton's bad 'habits' infuriate Catholic group as swimwear model dons 'nun-kini' in The Three Stooges."
One problem with this version is that the Farrelly brothers are so faithful to the Stooges legacy that their brand of gross-out humor in such movies as Dumb & Dumber, There's Something About Mary and Kingpin is missing. Except for a hospital sequence where the Stooges deal with dueling urinating babies, the movie is unusually tame for a Farrelly brothers flick. It's as if that were afraid to mess too much with their icons.
The plot is thin — as infants, the Stooges are left at a Catholic orphange, where they wreak havoc until it looks like it will be forced to close. That sets them off on a trek to find the money to save the orphanage, where they stumble upon a murder plot, with Modern Family's Sofia Vergara as a vengeful spouse, and eventually mingle with cast members from Jersey Shore.
Prettty lame, I admit, but I found it to be silly fun, if not as satisfying as the original Stooges' comedy bits. But not everyone agrees.
The reviews have been dismal (it's getting a 43 percent rating on the Rotten Tomatoes round-up of critics' reviews) and the Catholic League has come down hard on the movie. Catholic League president Bill Teague condemned its disrespectful portrayal of Catholic nuns. In the movie, Curb Your Enthusiasm creator Larry David plays mean Sister Mary-Mengele, a cheeky reference to the late Nazi Josef Mengele, who put millions of prisoners to death at Auschwitz.
Sports Illustrated swimsuit Kate Upton portrays Sister Bernice, wearing a revealing bikini along with a large rosary around her neck. My favorite headline about the brouhaha comes from the London Daily Mail: "Kate Upton's bad 'habits' infuriate Catholic group as swimwear model dons 'nun-kini' in The Three Stooges."
It's hard to believe that Teague takes this all so seriously, but David seems to have had the last laugh. He told Conan O'Brien (when was the last time you heard that name?) that dressing as a nun made him understand why they are so mean.
"You know, the outfits might have something to do with that. Forget about the fact that they never have sex. If you gave me a choice of no sex or having to wear that outfit the rest of my life, I would definitely take the no sex... No wonder they're so crazy."