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They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well, up in comedy heaven, Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard, the actors best known as The Three Stooges, should be very flattered. With the arrival of The Farrelly Brothers cinematic tribute to THE THREE STOOGES ($40), a new generation of fans will have the opportunity to be introduced to the slapstick hijinks of the celebrated comic knuckleheads, who in their most classic roster, starred in ninety-seven comedy short subjects at Columbia Pictures. As a fan of The Three Stooges, I had serious reservations about trying to resurrect or imitate this type of over-the-top slapstick comedy in the 21st century. Now let me give credit where credit is due, Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes, and Will Sasso all do an amazing job of embodying the screen personas of Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard and beautifully bring off the those classic comic stylings in the modern world. Sure, makeup goes a long way to make Diamantopoulos, Hayes, and Sasso look like Howard, Fine and Howard, but it is their picture perfect performances that make THE THREE STOOGES a joy to behold. The energy and the slapstick is always right on the money, about the only time that THE THREE STOOGES falters is in its third act, when there is too much convoluted plot and not enough comic mayhem.

The premise of THE THREE STOOGES interconnects a story across three "two-reelers" that estimate the flavor of a classic Stooges short subjects. More Orphan Than Not finds infant Moe, Larry and Curly dumped on the doorstep of the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage, where they innocently wreak havoc as un-adoptable children and grow into the orphanage's nitwitted handymen, until fate forces them out into the world, where they try to raise the $830,000 needed to keep the charity's doors open. The Bananas Split finds Moe, Larry and Curly trying to raise the much needed funds; however, the only job the boys can find involves ending the suffering of a "dying millionaire," who isn't the man he pretends to be. No Moe Mister Nice Guy separates Moe from Larry and Curly, with the head stooge becoming a media sensation amongst some other famous stooges from The Jersey Shore; however are boys are reunited in time to try and stop a murder plot against a childhood friend. The terrific supporting cast of THE THREE STOOGES features Jane Lynch, Sofía Vergara, Jennifer Hudson, Craig Bierko, Stephen Collins, Kirby Heyborne, Carly Craig, Kate Upton, Marianne Leone, Brian Doyle-Murray, Isaiah Mustafa, Skyler Gisondo, Lance Chantiles-Wertz, Robert Capron and Lin Shaye. Look for Larry David in a hilarious turn as Sister Mary-Mengele.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made THE THREE STOOGES available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. THE THREE STOOGES features a very appealing 1080p presentation. Image sharpness, depth, texturing and detail are genuinely quite good, but the decidedly bright cinematography leaves image looking a little too much like an expensive sitcom, as opposed to a motion picture. Colors are pretty vibrant, while the flesh tones are always appealing. Blacks are deep, while the whites appear crisp. Contrast is just fine for a movie shot with sitcom lighting. Shadow detail is all that needs to be for this kind of material. The elements from which THE THREE STOOGES has been mastered are free from defects. A fine sheen of grain is noticeable during the presentation.

THE THREE STOOGES is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. No surprise here, THE THREE STOOGES features a fairly typical talky comedy mix, although this one has been augmented with classic Stooge sound effects to enhance the slapstick violence. Much of what one hears has been localized to the forward soundstage, although some active sound effects are tossed to the outlying channels, but ambience and musical fill remain the primary elements of the surround channels. The lossless encode enhances the fidelity of the musical component, which comes across with a good sense of presence. The bass channel keeps things grounded, but there aren’t any ground shaking opportunities for the subwoofer. Dialogue is crisp and always easy to understand. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as is an English descriptive track. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some supplements. Featurettes and other programs include: What's The Big Idea? A History Of The Three Stooges (eleven minutes), Knuckleheads: Behind The Scenes Of The Three Stooges (five minutes), Did You Hear That? The Three Stooges Sound Effects (four minutes), Poifect! Casting The Three Stooges (nine minutes) and The Three Stooges Mash-Up (three minutes). Deleted & Extended Scenes, plus an Original Screen Test and a Theatrical Trailer close out the supplements. Disc two offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray, along with a Digital Copy of the film.

The Farrelly Brothers' THE THREE STOOGES is a fun cinematic tribute to those kings of comic slapstick mayhem. Sure, the film isn't perfect and does fall apart in the third act, but I have to give round of applause to Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes, and Will Sasso for brining the screen personas of The Three Stooges back to life for ninety minutes. The Blu-ray presentation looks and sounds quite good. THE THREE STOOGES is recommended for the sense of joy and nostalgia it represents.


Three Stooges [Blu-ray] (2012)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2012 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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