Trailer Trash: The Three Stooges
By Samuel Hoelker
April 24, 2012
Isn’t it the worst when you see a trailer for a movie that you’re looking forward to and it’s, well, a piece of crap? Sometimes it turns out that the movie is actually fantastic and just the victim of a bad trailer (such as the misleading Inglourious Basterds teaser), and sometimes that movie is just a flop (such as the misleading Funny People trailer). I’ll be saving you that risk from now on, as I’ll be checking out the films with the lousiest trailers and seeing whether it’s just poor editing that made the trailer terrible, or if no amount of editing could make it good. Today’s study: the long-awaited The Three Stooges.
The trailer opens mock-seriously, with baby Larry, Curly, and Moe being dropped off on a doorstep of an orphanage. Actually, we’re left to wonder what’s going on until nun Larry David gets poked in the eyes. Cut to present-day, where Curly doesn’t seem to grasp modern technology and makes a fool of himself instead of asking a simple question about the nature of technology. And then Curly sets feminism back 50 years by actually barking like a dog at chesty Sofia Vergara, because what’s acceptable in cartoons always translates well to live-action. Moe then hits Curly and Larry. They then hit each other some more.
Then the Stooges sing gospel music with Jennifer Hudson and don’t notice that a busty nun is busty, despite the fact that 30 seconds earlier in the trailer they literally drooled over Sofia Vergara. A montage follows: the Stooges fall, Curly has dynamite, a guy is hit by a bus, they slam Curly into a door, Curly swims with a fish in his mouth, and more pratfalls than I can type. Curly then has a lobster on his face, which Moe puts down Larry’s pants. He isn’t too pleased. And then no trailer is complete without Snooki, who shows up to be poked in the eyes by Moe.
So based on the trailer itself, one would think that The Three Stooges is a repetitive loop of them hitting each other and running into the cast of Jersey Shore. And I’ll give the trailer that much – it accurately prepares you for what comes. The experience of watching the film, however, made me realize that I find neither of those things particularly funny or relevant. I’m not a big Stooges fan overall – I can handle one sketch or so, and be fine for the next five years – but I never watched 21 Jump Street or saw the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie either, but I didn’t need to in order to enjoy 21 Jump Street or DoaWK: Rodrick Rules (seriously, it’s pretty good).
Truthfully, I can’t say I should have expected anything different from The Three Stooges. But there’s just so much missed opportunity – without even trying to, the Farrelly brothers bit off more than they could chew. Playing it straight, the film could have been four or five barely-connected vignettes of the Stooges not able to perform simple tasks or whatever plot archetype they usually have. Playing it completely off-the-wall, they could use the Stooges as pop-culture commentary, expressing how comedy has shifted throughout the years, and having the Stooges go through ridiculous plot occurrences. What we get instead is the Stooges, in the modern day, causing destruction in our world. While it’s all cartoony violence, when it ventures into Jersey Shore territory, it shows us that not only are simple, repetitive pratfalls outdated, but so are the Farrellys. When Moe is cast on Jersey Shore, the joke is that Jersey Shore is not a very good television show. And this film hasn’t been sitting on the shelf for three years; isn’t that already out of everybody’s system?