Just say ‘No’ to a Three Stooges movie

March 22, 2011

There’s disaster in Japan, Americans still involved in an increasing number of pointless wars in the Middle East, oil still polluting the Gulf of Mexico and idiots in Congress carrying on a culture war as if the economy was no longer a problem.

 

And what are Hollywood and its bloggers concerned with?

 

When they’re not blathering about whether the Lizard will be the villain in the next Spider-man movie or who Joseph Gordon-Levitt will play in the next Batman film, the big question is this:

 

Whether or not Johnny Knoxville will or should play Moe in a Three Stooges movie. And whether Benicio del Toro will be in or out. And Jim Carrey. And Sean Penn.

 

Glad to see we’ve got our priorities straight.

 

Really, I’m mystified by the seemingly constant frenzy online about whether or not the Farrelly brothers’ longstanding urge to make a Three Stooges movie will ever get off the ground.

 

It’s toxic-remake mania taken to an extreme. This is not a biopic about the Stooges (which was done for TV in 2000 with Paul Ben-Victor, Evan Handler and Michael Chiklis as Moe, Larry and Curly). This is meant to be a modern Stooges comedy, with contemporary actors doing the kind of slapstick that the Stooges honed to an art over decades.

 

Never mind that Hollywood is so bankrupt of ideas that it’s already remaking dross from the 1980s. Hell, Hollywood remade the 2007 British film “Death at a Funeral” in 2010.

 

That’s why, when someone blogged last year that Johnny Depp was considering remaking “The Incredible Mr. Limpet,” people took it seriously. There is no movie too awful to be considered, if someone thinks there’s a buck to be made. Hey – let’s do it in 3D!

 

But making a Three Stooges movie? What’s the point?

 

 

 

 

To prove the Farrelly brothers can do it? That’s a little like teaching a dog to dance, isn’t it? They’re funny guys with an ability to shock. But making a contemporary Three Stooges movie seems pointless on so many levels.

 

For starters, there are already waves of silly or stupid (though not necessarily funny) comedies out there. For another, there are DVD boxed sets of all the real Three Stooges’ output. You can watch those anytime to see how brilliant – or puerile, depending on your point of view – they were.

 

Finally, and most important, no matter who makes the movie, no matter who plays the Stooges, it won’t be a Stooges comedy. The Three Stooges were a trio of Jewish comedians who came up through vaudeville, honing their slapstick routines to a fine point, in the same way that the Marx Brothers, Bob Hope and Abbott and Costello did. They were perfectly adaptable to the two-reel form, at a time when those 10 and 20-minute shorts regularly comprised part of an evening’s worth of motion-picture entertainment.

 

I’m a purist, actually, and won’t even watch any Stooge enterprise that doesn’t include the original Curly. Shemp? The various Curly Joes? Sorry, accept no substitute.

 

Those full-length Stooge comedies from the late 1950s and early 1960s (when the Stooges themselves were senior citizens)? Unwatchable.

 

A Three Stooges movie starring Johnny Knoxville or a facsimile thereof? That’s like the cyclamate of substitutes – artificial-tasting, and bad for you.

 

Really, I don’t care if the late Sir Laurence Olivier came back from the grave and announced that he made the trip specifically to tackle the role of Moe. My response would be: Was this trip necessary?

 

The answer would be an emphatic no. In 3D.

 

 

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