As one half of the Farrelly brothers, writer-director Bobby Farrelly has been one of the filmmakers instrumental in shaping modern American movie comedy. Before the Apatow era, the Farrellys redefined the idea of raunchiness on screen, delivering multiple hits like Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary while helping elevate performers like Jim Carrey and Ben Stiller to superstar status in the process. (Their unlikely influence on the mumblecore genre is also, apparently, not to be overlooked.)
This week, the duo’s latest — their take on the classic slapstick The Three Stooges — arrives on DVD and Blu-ray, which gave us the chance to talk with Farrelly about his all-time favorite films (and get an update on the Dumb and Dumber sequel).

Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975; 100% Tomatometer)



I’ll never forget when I saw Jaws in the theater, the impact it had on me — so much that I wouldn’t swim in a swimming pool for the rest of the summer. [Laughs] And I enjoyed so much hearing later how Spielberg had had a hard time working with the shark, so they had decided to not show the shark, and instead use the music, you know. The way they did that was just incredible; the way they would shoot so that you’d see just the shark’s point of view instead of seeing the shark itself. It taught me, as a feature filmmaker, how important music is and involving all your senses and all that. So that’s my all-time favorite movie — Jaws.

It really was a stroke of luck that things didn’t go right on that film.

[Laughs.] Right. It really was. And I’m reminded too, as a filmmaker, that stuff happens when you’re making a movie — so you’d better be thinking quick, and sometimes you can turn it to your advantage. The filmmaking process is never gonna go as easily as you hope, so you’d better be ready for some curveballs.

Did you ever experience a happy accident like that on one of your movies?

We’ve had a lot of happy accidents over the years. I remember when we were making our very first movie, Dumb and Dumber, just because when we started, we started in May, and the story calls for winter. It was a particularly warm spring, and we thought, “Oh my god, it’s not gonna look too wintery.” So we went to the highest mountain we could find, which was Estes Park in Colorado, and the night before we planned to shoot we had a foot and a half of snow — and it was everything that we needed. So we got lucky that time. That was a big break for us.

That is one of my favorite comedies of all time, I have to tell you.

Oh thanks. We’re right now working on the sequel, which is 20 years later with the same guys, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. We’re hoping to be shooting it this fall. It hasn’t been easy to get off the ground, but we’re still hoping to be shooting in the fall.

I heard you guys had hit a glitch with the studio, yeah; but everyone wants to do it — both Jim and Jeff?

Yeah. Yeah. Jeff’s at a point in his career where he’s got a lot of stuff going on where he’s got that new show and, you know, he’s really at the top of his game right now. So we would love to get those two guys back together. And it’ll be almost 20 years later, so with those two characters that seems like about the right time for a sequel. I’m glad we didn’t do one the next year or two years later or something like that. Twenty years later we can have a lot of fun with we’re they’re at.

Will they have changed at all? I hope not…

Very little personal growth. [Laughs.] Very little. That’s who they are. [Laughs.] They don’t have a lot of character arc in their story or in their lives. You know who they are, and they’re pretty consistent.

The Sixth Sense (M. Night Shyamalan, 1999; 85% Tomatometer)



The Sixth Sense. I don’t know if you’d call it a horror movie — the genre’s not really my cup of tea, but I heard people say “You gotta go see this movie The Sixth Sense.” I was blown away, ’cause I took it hook, line and sinker. I never saw that ending coming. I was one of those guys. M. Night had the hook in my mouth. He shot it in a way that, when I go back and look at it and knowing what you didn’t know the first time, I just think he did a masterful job with that movie.

I tend to agree. I’d heard nothing about it, and the ending got me.

Yeah. I’m so glad I didn’t know. I went with some friends in Texas, where I live and — [laughs] — on the way home in the ride, one of them still didn’t get it, and we had to explain it. [Laughs.] And this was an intelligent person. But it was just so well crafted, you know; it really was well done. And I think a lot of people have tried to imitate that storytelling, but it’s hard to do as well as he did it in that movie.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (George Roy Hill, 1969; 89% Tomatometer)



I think I gotta go with that old stand-by, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Love Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Love the — you know, it’s the two guys. It’s what me and my brother specialize in, the two guys. Well, in the Three Stooges‘ case it’s three. But the relationship between two guys like that, I don’t think it’s been done any better than with Butch and Sundance; particularly with Robert Redford and Paul Newman. The way they worked in so many different things, from comedy to romance to action and the way it’s so beautifully shot and, you know, a great story. And they didn’t pull the punches at the end. If you made that movie today, I’m sure that you’d do the test screenings and somebody would raise their hands and say, “We want them to get away at the end!” But they didn’t get away at the end. Today you’d have to re-shoot the ending where the guys go off on some secret beach somewhere and live happily forever — ’cause that’s the way audiences kind of demand it. But with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, of course, they met their demise at the end of the movie, and they had it coming ’cause that’s who they were. I just think it was a beautiful movie.

I love that era of downbeat endings in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Directors were getting away with all kinds of stuff.

Yeah, it was a good time for filmmakers. But again, they didn’t have the test screenings. In today’s day and age, you kind of have to give the audience what they want. They demand it, and so there’re an awful lot of endings that fall right into a particular category. They want a happy ending, so people walk out and they’re happy — but not all stories in the world have happy endings, and that’s why I love some of the ones that leave you, you know, without the traditional ending.

The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972; 100% Tomatometer)


[Laughs.] They’re classic, I know — I’m not really picking ’em deep from my quiver — but I’ll go with The Godfather. I can watch it any day, any time. The original Godfather. The sequels were good, but the original Godfather was masterfully done. All those characters who you come to know; 30 years later you still talk about Sonny Corleone. It really sticks with you. It just felt so real. I’d read the book before I saw the movie, and usually when you read a book and then see the movie you say, “Eh, the movie didn’t live up to it,” but on that one I really think that [Coppola] captured it. Just a powerful, powerful story. And it felt real. I’m not really a fan of violence, but in that movie it didn’t bother me in the least — because none of it felt gratuitous, like they were just doing it for effect. I really believed it was the lives that those guys lived. I really thought it was just a beautiful movie. All those tremendous actors in it, too — years later, you realize he did a pretty nice job of casting it.

Especially when you think about who the studio had wanted, too — Robert Redford as Michael Corleone was one suggestion, I think.

Yeah I know. [Laughs.] I bet they were. Sometimes you gotta go to the man on some of these things — and the studio does have their reasons for wanting to cast people. Generally they want the guys that are seemingly the hot ones at the time. But I can’t imagine recasting that movie and making too many changes. They certainly got the characters right.

Animal House (John Landis, 1978; 90% Tomatometer)



I gotta get a really good comedy in there, and I don’t know if there’s ever been a better comedy — for my funny bones — than Animal House. All the laughs they crammed into that movie — I don’t know that it’s been beat. All the different characters; the way you basically, again, you like the anti-heroes — you like the guys who were in college and they were the slackers and all that. Just so many laughs in that movie. For me, if I’m flipping through the channels and I see Animal House on, I could sit down and watch that movie at any time, any day.

Does that movie describe yours and Peter’s college life?

Well, we were closer to those guys. [Laughs.] Closer to those guys than the guys in the good frat. [Laughs. ] We were not particularly good students. We certainly, you know, tried to have a good time when we were at college — and we both succeeded. [Laughs.] We weren’t “frat” guys, but if we were to join one, we probably would have been in the Delta House.

The Farrelly brothers’ latest, The Three Stooges, is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.

After a couple of really disappointing weeks, we’ve got a handful of nice choices again. Of course, they’re peppered among a few more critical disappointments, but hey, we’re still miles ahead of the last two RT on DVD lists. Without further ado, let’s get right to it!



The Three Stooges

51%

A new film reviving the comedic trio of Larry, Moe, and Curly was far from necessary, but being that much of the Farrelly brothers’ (Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary) comedy contains an element of slapstick, it wasn’t surprising. For what it’s worth, the film didn’t elicit nearly the amount of bile that most expected it would from critics, earning a mediocre (but not particularly terrible) 51% on the Tomatometer. TV stars Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos, and Will Sasso play the stooges with surprisingly effective flair in a story about the trio attempting to save the orphanage where they were raised and landing a successful reality television gig. Not the best comedy to emerge this year, but — to everyone’s surprise — not the worst either.



Friends With Kids

67%

Adam Scott (currently best known for his role on NBC’s Parks and Recreation) and writer/director Jennifer Westfeldt (Kissing Jessica Stein) are best friends Jason and Julie who, feeling the pressures of age and social norms, decide to have a child together. Can a platonic friendship survive the realities of childbearing and child rearing? The story of Friends with Kids doesn’t tread any new territory, but it benefits from a talented cast (including Bridesmaids alumni Kristen Wiig, Chris O?Dowd, Jon Hamm, and Maya Rudolph) and some quirky ideas about parenting and romance. At 68%, it’s not as refreshing as it might have hoped to be, but it’s a decent rom-com with some good gags and a touch of heart.



Casa de mi padre

42%

Will Ferrell stars in a send-up of telenovelas about a Mexican farmer who becomes embroiled in a drug war involving his younger brother when he attempts to help save his father’s ranch. Oh, and he speaks phonetic Spanish for the film’s duration. Most critics agreed that while Casa de mi padre was fairly amusing as a two-minute trailer, the joke wears a bit thin over an 80-minute runtime. A certain affection for the genre it’s parodying is evident, but the writing isn’t quite strong enough and the laughs don’t come often enough; as such, it sits at 44% on the Tomatometer and will probably best be remembered as an interesting but mostly forgettable entry on Ferrell’s resume.



Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

67%

Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom has been working since the 1970s, and he’s earned two Oscar nominations (for 1985’s My Life as a Dog and 1999’s The Cider House Rules), but he’s nowhere near a household name, mainly because he sticks to small, indie fare like last year’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. This latest entry stars Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt in a story about a fishery expert with Asperger’s syndrome (McGregor) who is called upon to help introduce, well, salmon fishing in Yemen. He soon forms a romantic bond with the sheikh’s consultant (Blunt) he’s asked to work with, and their faith is tested as they attempt an impossible feat. At 68% on the Tomatometer, Salmon Fishing is a quieter comedy, but a charming romance with some strong performances.



Lockout

37%

Guy Pearce is a solid actor, as he’s proven time and again, but even he can only do so much with a script that lacks depth and originality. Written by Luc Besson (director of The Professional and The Fifth Element), Lockout is a futuristic sci-fi thriller starring Pearce as former CIA Agent Snow, who is falsely imprisoned at a maximum security penitentiary; when the president’s daughter (Maggie Grace) is taken hostage by rioting convicts, it’s up to Agent Snow to come to the rescue. Critics found Lockout ultimately too derivative of the various sci-fi thrillers from which it borrows, and at 37%, it’ll probably only please those looking for a cheap and easy time killer.



Get the Gringo

82%

Speaking of prison thrillers, here we have one that earned mostly positive reviews. Mel Gibson has suffered from very public personal drama as of late, but in The Gringo, he recalls some of his grittier characters from the past to deliver a tough and slyly witty performance. Gibson is the titular character, aka Jack Sanders, who is sent to a Mexican prison for stealing. Once there, Jack adapts to his new surroundings, and after befriending a boy who has something a crime boss also needs, he sets out to save the boy and break free. Directed and co-written by Adrian Grunberg, who worked under Gibson on Apocalypto, Get the Gringo sits at a healthy 79% on the Tomatometer, due in large part to a striking performance from Gibson and some bloody, cheeky thrills.



The Turin Horse

89%

For current filmgoers, the works of Bela Tarr can seem less like movies and more like endurance tests. His spare, austere aesthetic is bold and uncompromising: Tarr’s shots can last for minutes at a time, and his camera moves at a stately pace, following haunted, exhausted people as they eat, work, and sometimes just sit in silence. (For some, Tarr’s greatest sin will be that he insists on shooting in black and white.) But if you give yourself over to his films — in particular, his latest and possibly last movie, The Turin Horse — you’re in for a hypnotic, evocative experience. It’s weighty, to be sure, but beautifully composed, sometimes darkly funny, and unlike anything else in contemporary cinema. The Turin Horse Blu-ray features an early Tarr short, 1978’s Hotel Magnezit, plus an audio commentary from critic Jonathan Rosenbaum and a discussion with the filmmaker at a 2007 screening.



Down By Law – Criterion Collection Blu-Ray

87%

Jim Jarmusch is best known for his understated (and underseen) indie classics of the 1980s and 1990s, films like Stranger than Paradise, Mystery Train, and Dead Man. One of his most beloved films is 1986’s Down By Law, the unconventional jailbreak movie/character-driven caper in which Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Roberto Benigni (who mostly speaks Italian throughout the film) find themselves on the run together; the reluctant partners are at odds at first, but an unlikely friendship develops between the three as they each find their way. This is Criterion’s first Blu-ray of the film, and it includes most of the extras from the 2002 DVD release, as well as new production Polaroids, location stills, and some commentary from Jarmusch on dubbing and Tom Waits’ video for It’s All Right With Me.



Mean Streets – Blu-Ray

96%

It isn’t talked about as often as, say, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, or even Goodfellas, but Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets (1973) is no less a stunning film. A young Harvey Keitel plays ambitious Charlie, who hopes to impress his Mafioso uncle enough to run a restaurant, while an even younger Robert De Niro plays Charlie’s best friend, Johnny Boy, a good-for-nothing punk with a violent streak who owes a lot of people a lot of money. Together, Keitel and De Niro make an electrifying combination as Scorsese explores themes of urban sin and guilt, marking a breakthrough film for both the director and his stars. The first Blu-ray of the film to be released in the US, Mean Streets hits shelves this week.



Singin’ in the Rain – 60th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray

100%

To say that Singin’ in the Rain is one of the best movie musicals of all time doesn’t quite do it justice. To be sure, it’s a great movie, as its 100 percent Tomatometer will attest. But it’s also really fun — it’s got some of the most incredible choreography that you’ll see outside a Hong Kong action flick, and its songs (which include “Make ’em Laugh,” “All I Do Is Dream of You,” “Good Morning,” and the title tune) are infectious and exhilarating. Like The Artist, Singin’ is about cinema’s transition from silence to sound, and as such, it’s a bright, shiny love letter to the movies. It also contains what’s arguably the great Gene Kelly’s finest performance. The Singin’ in the Rain 60th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Blu-ray/DVD combo contains more than four hours of bonus material, including commentaries from cast and crew members, making-of documentaries, outtakes, a 48-page book with rare photos, and even an umbrella.

This week at the movies, we’ve got two Howards and a Fine (The Three Stooges, starring Sean Hayes and Will Sasso), a spooky rural dwelling (The Cabin in the Woods, starring Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Connolly), and an outer space prison riot (Lockout, starring Guy Pearce and Maggie Grace). What do the critics have to say?



The Three Stooges

51%

If anyone could update the Three Stooges’ brand of violently stoopid slapstick for the 21st century, it would be the Farrelly Brothers. And while critics say they’re helped immeasurably by the uncanny performances by Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos, and Will Sasso as Larry, Moe, and Curly, The Three Stooges is ultimately a not-bad comedy with some decent gags and a little too much filler. In their attempts to save the financially-strapped orphanage where they were raised, the Stooges get mixed up in a murder plot and find themselves involved in a reality show. The pundits say that The Three Stooges was obviously made with care, and though some of its laughs are riotous, it’s a little too long to sustain its comic momentum.



The Cabin in the Woods

92%

Plenty of filmmakers have attempted to wring laughs out of horror clichés, but critics say few have pulled off that tricky balance with as much energy and aplomb as writer Joss Whedon and director Drew Goddard have in The Cabin in the Woods. As the title implies, the movie tells the tale of a group of teens who abscond to a rural retreat, where scary things happen. To say any more would ruin the surprise: the pundits say the Certified Fresh The Cabin in the Woods is a twisty, gory, funny, and thoroughly original horror hybrid that’s one of the smartest fright-fests to come along in quite some time.



Lockout

37%

Lockout‘s premise — Escape from New York in space — sounds pretty promising. Unfortunately, critics say while the movie has a few dumb thrills, it’s also silly and wildly illogical. Guy Pearce stars as a disgraced government agent who’s tasked with rescuing the president’s daughter from an outer space prison that’s engulfed by rioting. The pundits say Pearce lends gravitas to his clichéd role, but Lockout never fully transcends its B-movie trappings, and the result is derivative and occasionally cheesy. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Luc Besson’s best-reviewed films, and find out Maggie Grace’s Five Favorite Films here.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Monsieur Lazhar, a French dramedy about a substitute teacher who discovers a school system in crisis, is at 93 percent.
  • Post Mortem, a psychological thriller about a morgue clerk whose obsession with a cabaret dancer coincides with political turmoil in Chile, is at 89 percent.
  • Here, starring Ben Foster in a romantic drama about a brief romance in Armenia between a cartographer and a photographer, is at 83 percent.
  • How to Grow a Band, a documentary about the tumultuous formation of the bluegrass band the Punch Brothers, is at 60 percent.
  • Detention, starring Josh Hutcherson and Dane Cook in a horror/comedy about a group of high school seniors whose school is the target of a serial killer, is at 50 percent.
  • Late Bloomers, a comedy starring William Hurt and Isabella Rossellini as a married couple who react to aging in very different ways, is at 50 percent.
  • Hit So Hard: The Life and Near Death Story of Patty Schemel, a documentary about the hard times and miraculous recovery of the Hole drummer, is at 44 percent.
  • Blue Like Jazz, a dramedy about an young evangelical student whose horizons are broadened when he enrolls in an eccentric liberal arts college, is at 38 percent.
  • L!fe Happens, starring Krysten Ritter and Kate Bosworth in a comedy about a young woman who balances dating with single motherhood, is at 38 percent.
  • The Lady, starring Michelle Yeoh in a biopic of Burmese democracy activist and politician Aung San Suu Kyi, is at 36 percent.
  • Deadline, a murder mystery starring Eric Roberts as a newspaper reporter looking into a 20-year-old unsolved crime, is at zero percent.

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