Theatrical Review: The Three Stooges

And so it came to pass, three babies are left on the doorstep of an orphanage, though there’s something just a little odd about them.  The babies grow up to be young men with one of them having the opportunity to leave the other two by being adopted.  But this young man just can’t leave his friends behind and chooses to stay with them.  The three grow older and never leave the orphanage instead they stay behind and act as handymen.  But one day, they find that the orphanage is in financial trouble and ow the three leave their home behind, with the hopeful attempt to raise enough money to save their home… and of course have some eye-poking fun along the way.

That’s the basic story behind The Three Stooges the latest film from Peter and Bobby Farrelly and really this is just a hell of a lot of fun.  I’m a huge fan of the classic Three Stooges shorts and to this day, they still manage to get me to laugh in that sort of big, belly laugh way.  The Farrellys are obviously big fans as well and their little re-invention for a modern audience also manages to be quite the love letter to some classic comedy as well.

The Three Stooges is broken down into three separately chaptered stories all with the same running through-line.  It is one big story, but each individual chapter pays some great homage to classic Stooges situations of the past and I just did not want to see this end.  Now, I understand that some might take offense that this movie was even made, but really, the Farrelly’s hearts are definitely in the right place and they manage to not only pay homage, but re-invent while mixing the Stooges with their own brand of humor.

The best part of the film is the casting of Moe, Larry and Curly.  Chris Diamantopoulos plays Moe, Sean Hayes plays Larry and Will Sasso plays Curly and these guys are just brilliant.  Diamantopoulos has Moe’s look down to a “T.”  Sean Hayes is the only other person who I’ve ever heard pull off a successful impersonation of Larry Fine (the other is the great voice artist, actor and comedian Billy West).  Will Sasso is Curly Howard re-born.  The impersonations are absolutely spot-on, but even better is the timing and chemistry that all three have.  They absolutely excel at the gags, but the Farrellys also manage to bring a little heart to their film, and all three deliver the goods there as well.

There’s solid support for the boys from a great supporting cast including Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson, Sofia Vergara, Craig Bierko, Stephen Collins and the great Larry David.  I really have to give high marks to both Sofia Vergara and Larry David amongst the supporting cast.  Vergara plays Lydia, one of the villains of the movie.  She’s of course, drop-dead gorgeous, but also very much willing to put herself in a couple of pretty ridiculous situations and be a good sport about it.  Larry David plays Sister Mary-Mengele, one of the nuns at the orphanage and of course the one that the boys cause the most trouble for.  David’s lapping this whole thing up and you can just tell he’s having the time of his life playing the foil.  Also amongst the supporting cast, you’ll find the entire cast of Jersey Shore who I have to give props to for being good sports for the fun that gets made of them here.  As a downside to that, their appearance will no doubt date the film in later years, but for now, they certainly help generate some laughs.

I absolutely loved The Three Stooges and that’s for me pretty high praise considering I’m not really a fan of most comedies made today.  This one obviously spoke to my own affection for the classic trio, but the Farrellys manage to inject some of their own humor as well and the mix is absolutely hilarious.  I saw this with two other friends and honestly, we were laughing all the way through the film.  I honestly don’t know how this will play with those that aren’t familiar with the Stooges, but if you are a Stooges fan, I hope at least you’ll give this a chance.  Personally, I’d love to see the Farrellys, Diamantopoulos, Hayes and Sasso re-team and do this again.  The Three Stooges is fantastic, slapstick fun from start to finish.


Theatrical Review: Lockout

It’s the latter part of the 21st century and a former CIA operative named Snow is under investigation for a potential conspiracy against the United States government.  Things are looking pretty bad for Snow and he’s been told that he’ll be doing time on board MS One.  MS One is a prison that orbits the Earth and all of it’s prisoners are held in stasis to do their time.

Simultaneously, Emilie Warnock, the daughter of the U.S. President, is taking a little trip to MS One to investigate rumors of experiments involving the prisoners there.  As she’s interviewing one prisoner, a particularly bad piece of work named Hydell, things go awry.  Hydell manages to get a hold of a gun and quickly the tables turn to the point where the prisoners are all freed from their stasis chambers.

Back on Earth, it’s reasoned that the best person to go in and save Emilie is Snow and now he’s making preparations to go aboard MS One.

That’s the premise to Lockout the latest movie from producer Luc Besson’s production company, Europa, and it started as an idea from Besson.  For those that don’t know, as a director, Besson has directed films like La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element and The Professional. As a producer, Besson’s been behind films like Taken, From Paris With Love and The Transporter series.  Lockout is directed by James Mather and Stephen St. Leger and they also co-wrote the screenplay with Besson.

By it’s trailer, Lockout looks like it should be some pretty good mindless fun.  Well, really it’s just slightly above average as far as an action film goes, though there are a few saving graces.

Strongest of these saving graces is Guy Pearce who plays the part of Snow. Now Pearce has bulked himself up a bit and certainly looks the badass part.  What he does well though is that he doesn’t take the whole thing that seriously and it’s reflected in the character’s wisecracking dialogue.  He’s fun to watch whenever he’s on-screen, but it’s not for great action bits.  The other saving grace to the film is some pretty rich production design.  This has a terrific look to it and the visual effects are all pretty nicely done.

Where this fails though is in part of it’s casting and just the fact that with one exception, there really isn’t any great memorable action scenes.  Now of course, I’m a bit spoiled as I’ve just seen The Raid: Redemption the night before and that was just loaded with terrific and highly memorable action scenes, so much so that it makes Lockout look pedestrian in comparison.  Now I don’t expect every action film to go to the same lengths as The Raid: Redemption did, but I’d like to hope for at least a couple of really great set pieces in most action movies.  To my count, Lockout has only one that’s really inventive and that’s a motorcycle chase near the start of the film, with it’s only problem being that it’s over too fast.  After that, there’s really nothing to speak of.

As far as it’s casting goes, Pearce is the best thing about the movie going in.  Maggie Grace plays Emilie Warnock and she looks terrific, but she doesn’t really bring much else to the table.  Oh the script tries to get some adversarial banter going between her and Snow, but their chemistry just seemed a little too forced for me.  Vincent Regan and Jospeh Gilgun play are main villains aboard MS One.  Gilgun plays the abovementioned Hydell, and Regan plays his brother, Alex.  Neither are particularly effective in their parts and Gilgun is just hard to understand most of the time.  Lennie James and Peter Stormare play Shaw and Langral respectively and both are handling the investigation of Snow.  They’re both solid but man, I’d almost wish they’d been cast as the main bad guys aboard MS One instead as I think both could’ve brought a little more threat to the parts.

Lockout isn’t an offensively bad film, it’s just not that memorable.  It does run at a pretty quick pace (weighing in at 95 minutes) and it doesn’t take itself that seriously thanks mainly to a fun performance from Guy Pearce.  But really, this could’ve used a lot more in the action department and would’ve been helped significantly with better casting in the parts of the President’s daughter and the main villains.  As it is, it’s not a bad diversion, but one that you could probably wait to see when it’s no longer in theatres.