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The Stooges Are Back, And Nyukking Things Up Again

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The Farrelly brothers have long been known for their gross-out humor and their shocking comedies. After writing and directing movies like Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, There's Something About Mary and Shallow Hal -- where agreeable idiots get caught up in all sorts of trouble — Peter and Bobby Farrelly decided to tackle another set of goofy doofuses: The Three Stooges.

Their new movie places Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos), Curly (Will Sasso) and Larry (Sean Hayes) in the present day, where they try to save the orphanage they lived in from financial ruin. The film may be set in today's world, but it retains the slapstick humor and visual effects from the original Stooges routines — except, of course, for the black-and-white film.

"We tried to keep it looking exactly like the Stooges did it," Peter tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "We talked to the studio and said, 'Maybe we can shoot it in black and white. Or make it where it looks like it was shot in black and white, and then it was colorized later.' And the studio said, 'No way. Modern kids won't go for it.' And I'm glad we set them in modern day with crisp colors."

The new movie is also considerably longer than the original Stooges shorts, which were typically 18 minutes long.

"It was sort of an arc-less 18 minutes — hit, hit, hit, hit, end," says Peter. "They didn't have the time in those 18 minutes to tell a real story. So we knew we needed a story. We wanted you to know where they came from, we wanted to set up a situation, we wanted to build heart, and we wanted you to understand the characters so that you would enjoy it more."

In the film, the Three Stooges are forced to go out and raise money to save their childhood orphanage from financial ruin. Along the way, they meet zoo animals, the cast of Jersey Shore, a woman trying to kill her husband and the guy from the Old Spice commercials. They also, as you might imagine, find themselves in Stoogelike scenarios, complete with flying punches, poking and slaps. (Which, Bobby notes, are all real.)

"They literally had to slap each other," Bobby says. "When they do it, they want to make it look real. They were so intent on making it authentic that they'd take it to a riskier level than probably Pete and I were comfortable with. They wanted to keep it very real. But they practiced enough so nobody got hurt seriously."

For the eye pokes, the actors even worked with stuntmen on proper eye-poking technique.

"You do the eye poke just over the eyebrows, and it happens so fast that it does look like the eyes," says Peter. "And at the end of the movie, we have a brief thing where two actors pretending to be Bobby and myself explain that the hammers [in the movie] are rubber. And the eye pokes, we show how it's done in slow motion."

On set, the actors and stunt doubles were cautioned against doing anything that could truly injure them.

"We are not making action movies; we are making comedies. And if there's a possibility that somebody can get truly hurt, [we have] no interest," says Peter. "I'd rather do anything but that."


Interview Highlights

On using the original Stooge-era sound effects in the film.

Peter Farrelly: "We literally tried to make those sound effects again just to clean up the sound, and we could not duplicate the sound just the way they did it. So, we had guys come in and clean up the original sound effects — and those are the ones we used."

On remaking The Three Stooges

Peter Farrelly: "I think the main reason that we wanted to remake The Three Stooges is because young kids don't really have any familiarity with the Stooges. They don't really know them like the older generation. And we just felt like it's a shame that these kids don't know them."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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