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Marshall Fine

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Catching Up: The Three Stooges, Girls, Tribeca

Posted: 05/ 1/2012 8:35 am

Catching up with a few things I've been thinking about but haven't had a chance to get around to:

Let's start with The Three Stooges, which I didn't catch up with until a couple of weeks after it opened.

Frankly, I felt lucky that I had a conflict with the only press screening of the Farrelly brothers' version of the old comedy team. The idea of actors like Sean Penn, Benicio del Toro or any of the other names that were tossed around over the last few years of casting discussion never excited me. When they actually started making the movie with distinctly less star power, well, sorry, I didn't care.

But, when some of my colleagues from major publications raved about the film, I begrudgingly decided that OK, I'll buy a ticket and go see it. Which I did -- and came away thinking, "Meh."

Yes, I laughed a few times. Mostly, I laughed at the near-perfect recreation of the Stooges' various bits of slapstick shtick: the slapping, the eye-pokes, the bonks with hammers and other implements of destruction. It reaches its apogee in one balls-out round-robin of slapping and sound effects the three perform on a bare stage. I also laughed when Moe slapped around the cast of Jersey Shore because, well, someone finally did that.

Otherwise, well, hey, there are boxed sets of the Stooges' output that capture the real thing. For that matter, you can find their shorts (or parts of them) on YouTube.

The guys in the Farrelly brothers' version -- Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe, Sean Hayes as Larry, Will Sasso as Curly -- are inspired imitators. But the script itself was just a mishmash of old Stooge routines and clichéd plot points. And when it turned sentimental -- with the Stooges having misunderstandings and hurt feelings -- well, the Three Stooges aren't about feelings. That just seemed like a sentimental sop to screenwriting conventions.

So The Three Stooges -- been there, done that. Give me the originals anytime.

# # #

I've also been amused by the backlash against Lena Dunham's HBO series, Girls. Hailed as the second coming of the sitcom on the cover of New York Magazine more than a month before it even hit the airwaves, Girls debuted to a round of rave reviews, followed by the inevitable negative reaction of social commentators who are always suspicious of anything that's too popular and of the moment.

I personally don't care one way or the other about how young Lena Dunham is, how nondiverse the show's cast is or any of the other gripes. I think the show is smart and funny -- but then, I was a fan of Dunham's film Tiny Furniture, and was pleased to see her apply the same sensibility to a weekly TV series.


This commentary continues on my website.

 
 
 

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