There's an inner 9-year-old in us all, dying to get out, to laugh at pratfalls, slaps, eye-pokes and fart jokes. That's what Fox and the Farrelly Brothers are counting on with The Three Stooges.
That's why they've revived those princes of the puerile, the champions of the childish, the 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.
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) just say nyuck and are accidents waiting to happen.
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"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 that when, 35 years after arriving there, their orphanage faces foreclosure, the sort-of adult Larry (Sean Hayes), Curly (Will Sasso) and Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos) are there to save the day.
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.
Little does she know she has hired mayhem in high-water pants for the job.
And the three are in over their heads in the modern world: "Are you guys on Facebook? I'll poke you!"
Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck.
Made famous by There's Something About Mary in 1998, the Farrellys, who have fallen off raunchy comedy's cutting edge in recent years, manage the right tone. Sound effects amp up the laughs, 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 (Emmy winner for 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 Diaman topoulos and Sasso are Moe and Curly.
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 grown-ups won't get a kick out of what Moe does to The Jersey Shore. Because they have it coming.