Review - Spread Out! ("The Three Stooges," "Brain Donors")
Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat, I’m a HUGE Stooges fan. I’m talkin’ about the ORIGINAL Stooges, too, not the ones with Joe Besser, or “Curly Joe” DeRita. Although, I do love a good Shemp short, I must say… but I digress.
God bless the Farrelly Brothers (Peter & Bobby) who gave us such raw and raunchy comedies like “There’s Something About Mary” and “Dumb & Dumber,” and spun this family comedy without a single naughty word or bare breast! Oh sure, there’s untold chaos and unimaginable violence, but it’s STOOGES violence, so it’s okay!
Stealing the plot from “The Blues Brothers,” the orphanage where the three boys grew up is going to close unless they can come up with almost $1million! Horrors! So the zany trio of Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos,) Larry (Sean Hayes—from TV’s “Will & Grace,”) and Curly (Will Sasso) set out into the unknown big bad world to find the money. Mother Superior (Jane Lynch — in a most uncharacteristic sweet role) wishes them well, while Sister Mary-Mengele (“Curb Your Enthusiam’s” Larry David — hysterical) hates their guts and for good reason!
Once in the big city, they meet luscious Lydia (Sofia Vergara) and her conniving boyfriend (Craig Bierko — perfect casting here) who plan on tricking the Stooges into killing Lydia’s husband, Teddy (Kirby Heybourne,) without their knowledge! Horrors!
But brothers being brothers, dissension soon rears its ugly head and hotheaded Moe is banished by the other two for being too self-centered and controlling. Moe (in the only plot clunker) is seen by a producer as a natural to join the TV cast of… "The Jersey Shore!" Meanwhile, Curly and Larry fight an uphill battle trying to raise the money for the orphanage by opening an outdoor fish farm. Don’t ask. The three soon reconcile at Teddy’s lavish outdoor party where the Stooges really bring the house down.
Divided into three “film shorts” (just like the original films,) the trio of Diamantopoulos, Hayes, and Sasso not only SOUND just like the Three Stooges, but inhabit their bodies down to their looks, their body language, and their impeccable slapstick timing. And it’s all there! The BOINKS! BONKS! GONGS! All the goofy sound effects that made the Stooges even funnier! The plot does meander here and there and then breaks with that ridiculous side-plot featuring the “Jersey Shore” cast, but that’s all forgiven with a fun-filled, farcically frenetic free-for-all ending.
Kids (and MY generation) will love it AND there’s even a disclaimer at the end of the movie by the Farrelly brothers themselves warning children in the audience NOT to imitate the stunts or recreate the wacky violence they saw on the screen. “See? It’s only rubber!” says Bobby as he picks up a fake hammer and bends the tip in half. Thanks guys; really classy.
Brain Donors (1992)
You could practically hear the Marx Brothers rolling over in their graves when this movie came out. Directed by Dennis Dugan and produced by the Zucker Brothers ("Airplane!", the "Naked Gun" movies,) I suppose somebody said, "Hey, why don't we rip-off a Marx Bros movie and remake with new guys?" Paramount Studios said, "Great idea!"
Originally titled "Lame Ducks", it's the Marx Bros.movie "A Night At The Opera" remade with John Turturro as Roland T. Flakfizer (as a Groucho-ish quick-talking rascal,) an unscrupulous ambulance-chasing (literally!) lawyer who hounds rich dowager Lillian Oglethorpe (Nancy Marchard--subbing for Margaret Dumont) after she inherits a multi-million dollar ballet company.
Roland acquires new friends in the likes of Lillian's house-boy/gardener Jacques (stand-up comedian Bob Nelson doing a sometimes-talking Harpo Marx) and a sneeky Cockney-spouting cabbie named Rocco Melonchek (Mel Smith aka Chico Marx.) Together they rain down triple-speak, rapid-fire dialog, and crazy antics in the face of what would seem logical surroundings, and people accept it as normal. Fancy that!
They discover that signing the stuck-up and egomanical ballet dancer "The Great Volare" (George de la Pena) is the key in keeping the money and making the Oglethorpe Ballet Company THE most prestigious ballet company anywhere.
Ah, but what's a story without a love interest? Up and coming ballet couple ballerina Lisa (Juliana Donald) and her dancer boyfriend Alan Grant (Spike Alexander) are the leading contenders and it's up to the Marx Bros...sorry, I mean, the OTHER guys to disgrace Volare, win the Oglethorpe millions, and cement the young couple as the ballet companies newest stars! Ha! Piece of cake!
Depending on your point of view, Turturro, Smith, and Nelson make a passable comedy trio, BUT the Marx Bros they ain't! Admittedly, the script is very funny with some very clever wordplay, but overall, it gets a little old knowing that these guys are trying too hard to be someone else... and failing.