‘Three Stooges’ brings back slapstick humor

04/12/2012 10:53 AM

04/12/2012 10:53 AM

There’s an inner 9-year-old in us all, dying to get out, to laugh at pratfalls, slaps, eye-pokes and flatulence jokes.

That’s what Fox and the Farrelly Brothers are counting on. That’s why they’ve revived “The Three Stooges,” those princes of the puerile, champions of the childish and lions of lowbrow.

And from the moment Larry David appears, in full nun’s wimple and habit, as Sister Mary-Mengele (hah!), this updating of the Stooges works. (Or should we say “woiks”?)

We meet them the day they’re hurled, in a bundle, at the door of an orphanage. They grow into troublesome orphans with bad haircuts. Even as 10-year-olds, Moe (Skyler Gisondo), Larry (Lance Chantiles-Wertz) and Curly (Robert Capron of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”) just say “Nyuck” and are accidents waiting to happen.

“No wonder (adoptive) parents didn’t want youse,” Sister Mary-Mengele hisses. But Mother Superior (Jane Lynch) and Sister Rosemary (Jennifer Hudson) tolerate them. For decades.

So when their orphanage faces foreclosure after living there for 35 years, the sort-of adult Larry (Sean Hayes), Curly (Will Sasso) and Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos) save the day.

Sort of.

But it’s going to be impossible to raise $830,000 through ineptly performed odd jobs, even if Moe is “startin’ to get half a brain in my head.” Fortunately, they run into a femme fatale (Sofia Vergara, at her Vergara-iest) who wants them to smother her “dying” husband.

“Soitainly!”

Little does she know she’s hired mayhem in high-water pants for the job.

“Those three eeeeeeediiots!”

Little does anyone know these three are in over their heads in the modern world.

“Are you guys on Facebook? I’ll poke you!”

Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck.

The Farrellys, who have fallen off raunchy comedy’s cutting edge in recent years, manage the right tone. Sound effects amp up the laughs (an accidental poke in Vergara’s D-cup may be the raciest thing in it) and they’ve scored with their casting. This originally was supposed to have Oscar-winning stars, but thankfully, Sean Penn is nowhere to be found.

The new Stooges are affectionate homages to the originals: Moe and Curly Howard and Larry Fine. Hayes (of TV’s “Will & Grace”) is the most mannered, and the only one you see giving a performance. Not that he isn’t funny as all get-out. But Sasso and Diamantopoulos ARE Curly and Moe.

The Farrellys cleaned up their act for a kiddie audience. They even appear on camera for a “don’t do this at home” disclaimer at the end, because, as ever, the Stooges are for kids.

Not that plenty of grownups won’t get a kick out of what Moe does to “The Jersey Shore.” Because they have it coming.

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