Review: 'The Three Stooges' mines plenty of slapstick laughs

Curly (Will Sasso), Larry (Sean Hayes) and Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos), from left, go for a spin in "The Three Stooges."

Photo by Peter Iovino, TM and © 2012 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. The Three StoogesAE name and characters are tradem

Curly (Will Sasso), Larry (Sean Hayes) and Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos), from left, go for a spin in "The Three Stooges."

Left on a nun's doorstep, Larry, Curly and Moe grow up finger-poking, nyuk-nyuking and woo-woo-wooing their way to uncharted levels of knuckleheaded misadventure. Out to ...

Rating: PG for slapstick action violence, some rude and suggestive humor including language

Length: 92 minutes

Released: April 13, 2012 Nationwide

Cast: Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson

Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly

Writer: Mike Cerrone, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly

More info and showtimes »

There's an inner 9-year-old in us all, dying to get out, to laugh at pratfalls, slaps, eye-pokes and flatulence.

That's what Fox and the Farrelly Brothers are counting on. That's why they've revived "The Three Stooges," those princes of the puerile, champions of the childish and 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. (Or should we say "woiks"?)

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 of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid") just say "Nyuck" and are accidents waiting to happen.

"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.

Sort of.

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.

"Soitenly!"

Little does anyone know these three are in over their heads in the modern world.

"Are you guys on Facebook? I'll poke you!"

Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck.

The Farrellys, who have fallen off raunchy comedy's cutting edge in recent years, manage the right tone. Sound effects amp up the laughs (an accidental poke in Vergara's D-cup may be the raciest thing in it) 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 (of 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 Sasso and Diamantopoulos 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 grownups won't get a kick out of what Moe does to "The Jersey Shore." Because they have it coming.

© 2012 Knoxville.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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