Until today, the idea of casting Zero Mostel’s kid as “Howard F. Howard” in a poorly-written clunker stuffed with archive footage was one of the worst Hollywood ideas I’d ever seen executed on the silver screen. Then, I read that the rumors were true and that the Farrelly brothers were casting Sean Penn, Jim Carrey and Benicio del Toro as the new Stooges. Josh Mostel, you might finally be off the hook.
To the very core of my being, I’ve always despised people who exploit our memories of the dead for profit. So when John Wayne tried to sell me beer, Fred Astaire tried to sell me a vacuum or Mercedes-Benz misunderstood the whole point of Janis Joplin’s song, I swore to never buy their products. Moe, Larry, Curly and the gang spent their lives trying to make the world laugh; they didn’t get paid much money for it, they spent much of their lives being looked down-upon by “real” Hollywood stars, and they were in constant pain because of their dedication to physical comedy.
The one thing they did accomplish, however, was immortality. Just as my father got me hooked on the Stooges as a kid, I plan to do the same to my 7-month-old boy. The Stooges made nearly 200 pieces of comedy perfection that have survived eight decades, and for anyone else to take on their likeness is as pointless as it is sacrilegious.
As a fan of Penn, Carrey and del Toro, I want them to spend their time helping good filmmakers create original material that could become the next “Milk,” “The Truman Show” or “The Usual Suspects.” As a fan of the Stooges, I know there will never be another – and I know that if their short films are still hanging around after all these years (the last few years have seen them evolve with DVD and iTunes), there’s something magically timeless about their stupidity.
After being burned with the eff’n “Honeymooners” movie – quite possibly the worst film I’ve ever had to sit through – the only way I could even begin to get behind new Stooges would be if they were Hollywood newcomers. Who knows? Maybe, somewhere out there, they could find three comedians whose slaps, pokes and laughs would be timed as perfectly as the formula that Moe, Larry, Shemp and Curly worked out over all those decades in vaudeville and film.
Yes, these guys are three of the best actors we have. And yes, I have no doubt that the Farrellys are coming at it from a place of love. But can you imagine del Toro, Penn and Carrey singing “Swing the Alphabet?” Can you imagine them throwing a pie into the face of a member of the stuck-up hoi polloi? Can you watch this brilliance and imagine it working in any sort of contemporary context with those three actors?
Sorry for the rant, but I’ve always loved my Stooges. Who knows? Maybe the Farrellys are sitting on some amazing audition tapes, and know better than I do. Then again, these are the guys who made Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore run onto the field when the 2004 Red Sox finally broke the curse, thereby infuriating the very fanbase “Fever Pitch” was being aimed at. To me, the stunt casting of these 3 big names just shows that the Farrellys haven’t learned from their past mistakes – and don’t be surprised if another sizeable fanbase decides to gives their film a collective tweak in the eyes.
How do you guys feel? Will the new 3 Stooges work? Or should Moe, Larry and Curly be allowed to just rest in peace?