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Mr. Beaks And Bobby Farrelly Discuss The Refined Comedic Sensibility Of THE THREE STOOGES!

Bobby and Peter Farrelly's THE THREE STOOGES went through one of the more highly publicized casting processes of the last decade, drawing interest from some of Hollywood's biggest stars, who, for one reason or another, had always wanted to indulge their inner Stooge. Sean Penn was an inspired choice as Larry, particularly if you've seen his unforgettable per-fro-mance in Brian De Palma's CARLITO'S WAY. Benicio del Toro threatened more malevolence than mischief as Moe, but that could've been fun. Meanwhile Jim Carrey was set to pack on the pounds to play Curly, until he reportedly balked at the health risk involved in gaining all that weight.

But after many years which saw several other celebrities becoming attached and dropping out, the Farrelly's finally went with the not-exactly-star-studded trio of Chris Diamantopoulos (Moe), Sean Hayes (Larry) and Will Sasso (Curly). Basically, instead of stunt casting, they went with the three best actors for the role. And while I'd love to see the alternate-universe version of THE THREE STOOGES with del Toro rapping Penn upside the head, the Farrelly's definitely made the right call.

The Farrelly's THREE STOOGES is... well, The Three Stooges. It's three remarkably silly shorts with an overarching narrative that plops the trio in a number of situations where they can perpetrate their singular brand of slapstick mayhem. While there are some slightly off-color embellishments that would've been too risque for the original Stooges, they're minor indulgences when compared to the Farrelly's penchant for R-rated gross-out humor. This is simply a PG-rated homage to the skull-cracking, nose-twisting, eye-gouging magic of the Stooges, and it works beautifully. At first, you can't believe you're laughing at the same stupid gags that made you howl when you were eight; finally, you give into the sublime idiocy, and marvel at the Farrelly's ability to nail this style of humor without ever distancing themselves or the audience. It's a gloriously moronic revel.

I had the opportunity to chat with Bobby Farrelly last week about their long-in-development triumph. We discussed the casting process, the resistance to an unabashed THREE STOOGES movie, and how they managed to keep the film pitched at a juvenile PG level. We also briefly touched on what I feel is their most underrated comedy (and, frankly, one of the most underrated comedies of the last twenty years): KINGPIN. But first, Bobby wanted to talk about the Farrellys' special connection to AICN.

  

Bobby Farrelly: I have an Ain't It Cool News story. When we made THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, we were in the editing room, and like any filmmaker, you don't know exactly what's working and what's not, so you have varying cuts of the movie before you decide on what the final cut is. We had a cut of the movie that we brought to a film class at Boston College. The guy teaching the course was like, "Hey, can we see a cut of your movie?" And we thought, "Yeah, this would be good. Get a little feedback." The very next morning, a kid from that class had written a review of the movie and posted it on Ain't It Cool News. And when we read the review, we thought, "That's a really good review." Not only was it a good review, he had good insights into what was wrong with it. So we ended up tracking the kid down and hiring him. Kevin Biegel [the COUGAR TOWN co-creator who used to write as John Robie]. You know Kevin?

Mr. Beaks: Sure! Kevin's a good friend.

Farrelly: (Laughing) So you already know this story! But in his review, he said, "It might help if they did 'this' or did 'that'." They were the exactly the notes that we needed to take the movie to the next level. We thought, "Hey, the kid's got a pretty good eye for some snot-nosed punk at BC ripping our movie to shreds." It was a windfall for us. For some reason, before that we were afraid to have someone critiquing you before you're done if you don't have a finished product. But after that, we realized that it's okay to get a little criticism because you can learn from it.

Beaks: Contrast that with THE THREE STOOGES, where some people were skeptical of the idea, and sort of asking "Do we need a THREE STOOGES movie?"

Farrelly: There was a lot of resistance to it for sure. "Do you need a THREE STOOGES movie?" I'm sure a lot of people don't, but we made the movie because we love the Stooges. We think they were hysterically funny, and they had their own brand of comedy, and it was never duplicated. So when we found out a whole generation of kids didn't really know who they were or anything about them, that's what we did it for. It's for kids. It's a PG movie. We did it as an homage to the original Stooges. We didn't really think that we were going to do anything any better than they did, but if we could capture that physical, unique brand of physical comedy that they invented that we would be very proud. Our three actors were really good, and we are really proud of the work that they did.

Beaks: How did you end up going this route? For a long time, there was talk of casting celebrities.

Farrelly: We opened it up early on to the possibility of anybody playing these roles. So naturally a lot of famous actors and comedians started circling the project. The one thing that my brother Pete and I insisted on was that whoever wanted to do it needed to audition for us - and that's not always the case in Hollywood as you well know. With the big guys, you have to offer them the part. We just felt like with the Stooges, we need to see it. We've got to get it right. We didn't want to do a variation on what Moe, Larry and Curly would do; we needed to see that. By auditioning everyone and filming them, we came to realize that our three guys - Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes and Will Sasso - were the single three best at playing these parts.

Beaks: The thing I really like about movie is that it's just an unabashedly broad THREE STOOGES movie. Those kinds of gags still work. Was there ever a thought to do something different with the Stooges?

Farrelly: It would come up a lot of times when we were about to make it, like, "Are you guys going to make a biopic?" They actually already did a biopic already, and they did a nice job with it. I know Michael Chiklis played Curly, and he was really good. So we had it in our head that we were going to do the Three Stooges as the Three Stooges. Yeah, we were getting notes along the way like, "What if they're updated in this regard?" But we just felt like, "We've got to be true to them." And the guys who do love the Stooges, even though they were resisting the movie getting made, we were playing to them in that we wanted anyone who really loved the Stooges to look at it and say, "That's what Moe, Larry and Curly would do."

Beaks: In writing gags, were there ever times where you thought "Maybe we're pushing a little too far for the Stooges?"

Farrelly: Oh yeah. I mean, we do that all the time. (Laughs) It's easier to pull back because you can edit back. But if you don't go far enough, there's nothing you can do in the editing room. On the day that we're filming, we'll do things that we know will never make it into the movie, but a lot of times you're surprised about what does and doesn't work. When we made THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, and Cameron has the hair gel in her hair, everybody on the set is thinking, "This is ridiculous. This is definitely way too far." That one we really did think, "Most likely, that will never make it in the movie, but we're laughing as we do it just because of how silly it is." But when we cut it together, lo and behold, they were laughing just like we were. If you don't go over the top, you're short changing yourself.

Beaks: With this this film, it occurs to me that using the babies as urinating weapons might've been the hair gel moment.

Farrelly: (Laughs) I'll tell you this about that scene: when we had it in the script, it did go further than this. They made us take the scene out. They put their foot down, and said, "You can't do it. And besides, you only have so many days to shoot, and you only have so much money, so you need to take that scene out to save money." Well, we made a deal with them. We said, "Listen, if we get ahead of schedule, if we make up time, would you let us shoot this scene?" They grudgingly agreed. So we just shot a little bit here, and a little bit there over the fifty-day shoot, and then when we put it all together, I actually think it's the scene in the movie that gets the biggest laughs. That's how it goes a lot of time. The scene where you say, "No, you can't do that," ends up being the scene with the biggest laughs. There are always some people who say, "That's not funny," but most people are laughing.

Beaks: I saw this on opening day, and it went over huge in the theater.

Farrelly: (Laughing) In the original script, the way the scene culminated - and this will sound completely silly - but he took one of the babies, turned it over and squeezed it, and a turd went flying across the room. And the nurse came in yeling, "What's going on here?" And the turd ended up going into her mouth like a cigar. The reason why we did that is that in the old Stooges, they did stuff like that. A guy would squeeze a banana, and it would go flying across the room. And it was so cheap the way they did it: it would be on a string, and you could almost see the string. The effects were so low-tech that they would make you laugh. It was an homage to an old Stooges bit. And they said, "Absolutely not!" So we just went with the pee-pee.

Beaks: Well, the Stooges have always been a PG act, and you had to stay within those parameters.

Farrelly: We put in the movie exactly what would've been in any Three Stooges short. There's no swearing, there's no drugs, and whenever there's sex, you just allude to it. It was really whatever would go into a Three Stooges short. And when we showed it to the MPAA, they said, "That's PG. That's not PG-13 at all."

Beaks: It would seem that Kate Upton might be skirting the edge of PG-13.

Farrelly: That's a good point. We did have to pull back a few shots of Kate Upton coming out of the pool. But she's in a bikini. You can go to the beach and see a girl in a bikini. The problem is that she's so "Va-va-voom", that you think "Oh, is that PG-13?" And we did have to take a few shots out of her.

Beaks: And maybe a little bit of Brian Doyle-Murray, because he skirts the edge of PG-13.

Farrelly: (Laughs) We like working with Brian Doyle-Murray. He's a good man.

Beaks: Murray's just so amazing. He's one of my favorites. What is it about Brian that makes him such an effective supporting comedic actor?

Farrelly: We ask ourselves that a lot in the editing room. There's something about the guy. I'd work with him again in a minute. He's got a great look; his face is just chiseled... there's so much history to it. But I think his defining characteristic is his voice. He should be doing more animated movies, because his voice is just magical.

Beaks: All these years after it fell short at the box office, KINGPIN has become accepted as a comedy classic. How do you feel about it now?

Farrelly: Our first movie was DUMB & DUMBER, and it was a big hit; it was the #1 movie coming right out. Our second movie was KINGPIN, and as we're making it, we're thinking "This is great. It feels a lot like DUMB & DUMBER: it's really funny, it's making us laugh, and we've got Bill Murray!" We thought it was going to be a big hit. And when it came out... it just came and went. They brought it out during the Summer Olympics, and the studio didn't give it any kind of push at all; I guess they just didn't get it. It just came and went. It was such a heartbreak because we were so optimistic. But so many people found it on DVD, so we came to realize at that point that you just don't know. You make a movie, and they're like kids: you love them all. How they do at the box office doesn't really change the way you feel: if one misses, it'll still hold a place in your heart.

 

THE THREE STOOGES is currently available on Blu/DVD. If you love the Stooges, it's essential.

Faithfully submitted,

Mr. Beaks

Readers Talkback
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  • July 23, 2012, 12:40 p.m. CST

    Dumber and Dumber

    by Bodacious_Crumb

    Whatever the sequel was going to be called, it will be missed.

  • July 23, 2012, 12:40 p.m. CST

    never get that hour and 15 min I lost of my life watching this shitty movie.

    by theycallmemrtibbs

  • July 23, 2012, 12:47 p.m. CST

    Best thing I can say about the movie is ...

    by DrMorbius

    it's not nearly as reprehensible as I thought it'd be. So, sue me!

  • July 23, 2012, 1:06 p.m. CST

    This movie was released four months ago

    by Logan_1973

    And were getting this interview NOW?

  • July 23, 2012, 1:08 p.m. CST

    FORCEfully submitted, Mr. Beaks

    by Kyle DeMattio

    The article title is so pathetic. Refined Comedic Sensibility? HA! More like Retarded Comedic Stupidity. How long did it take to come up with a crappy title like that? Come on Beaks, you're better than that. You gotta admit that this movie blew major chunks.

  • July 23, 2012, 1:26 p.m. CST

    Awful

    by MrDark

    The movie was terrible. Any excitement I harbored was immediately eviscerated as I sat through what felt like hours of the child actors playing the young stooges. Then it got ridiculous. Mixing the time into the current era doesn't work. You can't have it both ways, either they are set in the past or in the present. You can't act like they're from the past and confused about the present. All the gags and slapstick were there, but it was never timed correctly. Moe was more of an asshole than anything else.

  • July 23, 2012, 1:34 p.m. CST

    Sorry, but,

    by crazy4dragons13

    This movie was great! Very light-hearted and funny. I enjoyed thj shit out of it.

  • July 23, 2012, 1:41 p.m. CST

    Forgot to mention...

    by MrDark

    ...Jersey Shore. (When I really think back I wonder if a different Moe would have made the film work out, that was one of my biggest problems. The way the plot was set up was also a killer, though)

  • July 23, 2012, 1:43 p.m. CST

    Stop Sucking Up To Assclowns

    by KingDingaLing

    Their Stooges is pure GINO or SINO. This fart-fest makes the originals look like Shakespeare. The original stooges were not complete dumfucks unlike the Farley's version. They twisted the goofy knob WAY TOO HIGH. Also, what's with the fag-attract at the end of the bootleg DVDrip? I thought it was a "kids' movie'.

  • July 23, 2012, 1:45 p.m. CST

    The Farrelly's are a blight on America's film history

    by DrGogol

    They started a raunch-out that it took American cinema years to overcome. They's horrendous effect is still felt. Most American comedies still suck. Way to go, jerkfaces.

  • July 23, 2012, 1:47 p.m. CST

    Kingpin has some of the best lines/scenes.

    by Michael_Jacksons_Ghost

    Bill Murray's Big Earn telling Roy to eat his cereal outside of the dinner. Ishmale talking about certain woman's "birthing hips". Bill Murray's hair. I could go on, and on....... lol

  • July 23, 2012, 1:57 p.m. CST

    And I'm sure most people who claim to hate this movie...

    by DerLanghaarige

    ...are huge fans of FAMILY GUY.

  • July 23, 2012, 2:06 p.m. CST

    Re: logan_1973

    by Ricardo

    This is a paid advertisement disguised as an interview to bring the movie back into public view so they can market the home video release.

  • July 23, 2012, 2:17 p.m. CST

    Early Farrelly Brothers > Any Apatow Film

    by Karl Childers

    You know it to be true.

  • July 23, 2012, 2:33 p.m. CST

    Movie was crap

    by krabklaw

    The 3 actors who they got aren't to blame though- they did a respectable job.

  • July 23, 2012, 2:48 p.m. CST

    i liked the 3 stooges. i would have loved it as a child.

    by antonphd

  • July 23, 2012, 3:02 p.m. CST

    This was a rad movie.

    by sasquatch_with_a_swatch_watch

    Don't be stupid. It's a stupid movie, not the English Patient. Shut up.

  • July 23, 2012, 3:39 p.m. CST

    i liked it---

    by dahauk--

    It needed a pie throwing scene tho...

  • July 23, 2012, 4:51 p.m. CST

    I hate to admit...

    by mintoncard

    I actually liked it. (The scene with the "free-range" salmon gets me!) It's now one of my "guilty pleasure" movies.

  • July 23, 2012, 5:59 p.m. CST

    Fucking american morons

    by fuck.wit

  • July 23, 2012, 6:39 p.m. CST

    John Robie, sorry 'bout the typo

    by mdk

  • July 23, 2012, 7:07 p.m. CST

    I enjoyed it

    by Vicconius

    Bought the box set of Stooges shorts and had been watching up to the 1940s when I saw it. It felt right. Impressed with Moe the most. He captured him perfectly. Curly was very good. Larry would fade in and out, and maybe wasn't shleppy enough. And the hair-pulls back in the day had more impact because it was Larry's real hair. But over all, I enjoyed it, which I thought I wouldn't. Could imagine kids having a great time with it. Nice broad stupidity. Don't over-think it.

  • July 23, 2012, 8:04 p.m. CST

    Have to say I liked it as well

    by SifoDyasJr

    I was expecting a disaster and it was actually pretty good, not perfect, but very entertaining. I'd pay to see a sequel. Definitely the best Farrelly Bros film of this millennium.

  • July 23, 2012, 9:36 p.m. CST

    Couldn't make a much better Stooge film in 2012

    by Kenny8

    Why all the hate?

  • July 23, 2012, 10:17 p.m. CST

    Dumb and Dumber - Kingpin - TSAM

    by DougMcKenzie

    Great trilogy. Hard to measure up to that, as it seems they shot their load early, jokewise. Glad they went with the continued stories of the Stooges rather than a biopic, or a re-interpretation (which the Carrey-Del Toro-Penn casting seemed like). I hope they do another one. Seems easy enough without three big name stars, and sticking to the 3 x 30 anthology seems quicker and easier to write. Even the original Stooges didn't work well in feature length.... although I still do love The Three Stooges meet Hercules.

  • And that is hilarious.

  • July 24, 2012, 1:35 a.m. CST

    easily the funniest movie of the year.

    by MST3KPIMP

  • July 24, 2012, 3:08 a.m. CST

    GREAT film and very funny!!! :D

    by TheGhostWhoLurks

    The Three Stooges was everything I feared that it WOULDN'T be: a faithful version of the classic trio, starring three actors who didn't try to re-invent the characters, but remained true to the personas that generations of fans have loved for decades. Everything, from their looks to their voices, was pretty much close to perfection in terms of taking the place of the original Stooges, with the bonus of giving the characters a backstory and placing them in the present day. It's a great family film, VERY funny and pretty heartwarming... especially in terms of how much these three guys really love each other, underneath all of the slapstick and pranks. EASILY one of the funniest movies I've seen this year! Ignore the naysayers and watch it. If you loved the original Three Stooges, you'll love this flick! It deserves respect for successfully mimicking a dynamic that I thought COULDN'T be copied. Well done! :)

  • July 24, 2012, 3:38 a.m. CST

    I can't stand the Three Stooges and thought this movie was funny...

    by Kirbymanly

    I watched this mostly out of curiosity (Kate Upton) and was shocked by how genuinely funny this was. Not only was it funny but it actually has "heart" to it.

  • July 24, 2012, 8:44 a.m. CST

    It was accurate, you can't deny this

    by Terrence

    I have watched pretty much most of the original shorts, and they eerily nailed the way they acted.

  • July 24, 2012, 10:37 a.m. CST

    Speaking as a huge Stooge fan, this movie was an ok homage.

    by SergeantStedenko

    The actors, particularly Sean Hayes as Larry, were about as good as you could get. The Farrelly's clearly love the Stooges and this was their love letter to these underrated comedic geniuses. That said, there is a problem when Larry David dressed as a nun is the most humorous thing in your movie about the funniest comedy team that ever existed. And the inclusion of the Jersey Shore scumbags is truly unforgivable. I don't want VD-infected Snookie anywhere near my Stooges, thank you very much.

  • July 24, 2012, 1:18 p.m. CST

    Movie was hilarious

    by Charlie Winfrey

    Movie was hilarious, if you can't see that get over your stupid internet centric cynicism. Enjoy something instead of criticizing it, bitch.

  • July 24, 2012, 7:20 p.m. CST

    Three Stooges is a better homage than The Artist.

    by Darth Philbin

    If you didn't like it, then you're probably either a woman or want to be one.

  • July 25, 2012, 5:15 a.m. CST

    Saw it with my son and nephew and they laughed from end to end

    by Ciderman

    It was great fun, a brand of humour absent from modern movie comedy. And the lobster down the pants? New underwear alert!

  • July 25, 2012, 7:11 a.m. CST

    What is it about good sex...

    by WarrenSmooth

    that makes me have to crap? Guess it's all that pumpin'. Pump and dump. You really jarred something loose, tiger!

  • July 25, 2012, 10:04 a.m. CST

    Sean Hayes should get a Best Supporting Actor nom.

    by SergeantStedenko

    But it will never happen.