WEST SPRINGFIELD — It would be entirely accurate, if incomplete, to say the reason I don’t hit people on the head is I’d be disappointed the sound would be so unlike the comforting “Boink!” when Moe hits Curly.
Life is a struggle of adjustments, which brings us to the new “The Three Stooges” movie that opened Friday.
It was pretty good. Funny spots included Larry David as a nun. The boy’s hard Brooklyn accents, the sound effects and most of the sight gags are there. About a dozen people (yes, mostly guys) attended the 1:45 p.m. show at Rave Motion Pictures.
But the actors playing Moe, Larry and Curly presented to this long-time Stooges fan a see-saw effect. Periods of seeing the actors present remarkable resemblance to the so-familiar lugs – view and look-away tells your mind “there’s the Three Stooges” – usually detoured to an almost creepy “How dare they! That’s not them” let down.
The Curly was too big, the Moe a bit too thin, the Larry too silken-voiced.
Then again, as folks like Terry Wasielewski said, it’s just the Three Stooges.
“That was great entertainment,” said Wasielewski, 55, in town visiting from Buffalo, N.Y.
“We love the Stooges. These guys love the Stooges,” he said of his sons, John, 15, and Joseph, 10.
“When these guys were kids, we’d give them a bottle and put them in front of the TV to watch the Stooges,” Wasielewski said.
He walked away with his two boys, one of the three making Curly’s “woo, woo, woo” sound.
That’s part of the point, that with the Stooges and their slapstick and sounds so ingrained in the culture, making a movie like this is almost bound to fall short.
The Three Stooges began on the 1920s vaudeville stages. By the early 1930s, they were making the “shorts” (16- to 18-minute movies) for Columbia that would make them famous, especially in TV reruns. They made nearly 200 shorts and about 100 were with the Moe, Larry, Curly lineup that was the best by far.
Brothers Moe and Jerry “Curly” Howard and frizzy-haired Larry Fine (known by former Republican colleague Mike McAuliffe as “the first hippie”) are long dead. But that the directors, Peter and Bobby Farrelly (“There’s Something About Mary,” “Dumb and Dumber”) are fans of the Three Stooges comes through in this 90-minute movie.
The plot finds the Stooges out in the modern-day world trying to raise $830,000 to keep the orphanage where they grew up and still work as maintenance men from closing.
Will Sasso as Curly, Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe and Sean Hayes as Larry do well with the choreographed snoring, dancing, huddling, face-slaps, eye-pokes and eye-poke blocks.
They also spit out many of the favorite catch phrases like “Spread out!” “I’m a victim of circumstance” and “We’re getting nowhere fast.”
Missing, though, was my favorite: “Wake up and go to sleep,” usually barked out by Moe to a snoring Larry or Curly.
“It was very good,” said Joe Provoda, of West Springfield. “They actually did a very good job with making their voices sound like them.”
The movie had some of the word-play familiar to the Stooges’ shorts: The name of a divorce-lawyer firm was Ditcher, Quick & Hyde.
Just as the original Stooges offended many people, the movie included ample inappropriateness to upset today’s prim and politically correct. It wasn’t just the slaps, pokes and noggin-knocks. At one point Moe says to a boy, “We’ve known you since you were a baby. We were the ones that taught you how to play with matches.”
Modern touches in the flick include references to the iPhone and Twitter, and scenes with Snooki and the Jersey Shore cast that weren’t all cringe-worthy.