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Do NOT try this at home!: A review of ‘The Three Stooges’

April 13, 2012

By Sister Cynthia S.

That’s the message in a post-film appearance by the directors of the new Three Stooges movie.  For a new generation of audiences, they demonstrate how the hammers used are really rubber and the signature eye poke really lands on the brow. Their advice about this slapstick violence: Do not try this at home.

The movie runs like every Stooges short I grew up watching, with standard antics and predictable jokes and plots.

Except for two things.

One is an underlying theme of friendship and loyalty that provides the rare serious moments in the film.  Who would have thought that the Stooges would make choices based on their real affection for each other?

And then there are the nuns. The nuns run the orphanage that serves as the primary setting for the story. Their portrayal raises questions for me: What is it about nuns that so fascinate people? And why do movie-makers think they can so freely caricature us and that people will laugh? In this time of extra sensitivity to religious freedom, including dress, why is it okay to use nuns in habits for laughs, and old laughs at that?  Please, do not try this at home.

The only nun who gets knocked around in the movie is one portrayed by a male actor. Could it be that having that be a woman would be pushing it just too far? To be fair, no authority figure in the film comes off well, typical fare for a Stooges plot. There’s a somewhat  nasty non-nun  nurse and some very inept policemen who take a fairly good beating all the way around. Do not try this at home either.

My guess is that most nuns would identify with the nuns in the film about as much as they would with the nuns in Sister Act. But most nuns would probably choose to do something else with their afternoon. So here’s something you can and should do at home. Find a real nun and talk with her about what she thinks and how she spends her time. Don’t settle for caricatures. Go for the real thing.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. marypen211 permalink
    April 13, 2012 11:40 am

    Good one, Cynthia! The entire world has changed except nuns in habits! If the audience were to find a real nun, they would be mighty surprised…

  2. Donna Conroy permalink
    April 13, 2012 1:06 pm

    Cynthia, you really COULD give up your day job!!! Good review, thanks. Donna

  3. April 13, 2012 2:17 pm

    Great and real ideas Cynthia. Your final line is a challenge and an invitation!

  4. April 16, 2012 2:30 pm

    I appreciated your sentiments, Cynthia! Your words on it were enough. I think I’ll skip the movie.

  5. Ann McGovern, RSM permalink
    April 17, 2012 10:48 am

    Thank you, Cynthia!

  6. Rev. Joseph Havrilka permalink
    April 17, 2012 3:25 pm

    Thanks, Sister! I am a priest and I couldn’t agree with you more. The Catholic Faith(including a farcical portrayal of Sisters) is often used in this way by filmakers. I treasure the Dominican and Ursuline women who taught and formed me. Yes, they wore habits in those days and I treasure the memories but…charism, ministry and spirituality are more than cloth or symbol. Blessings in your ministry!

  7. April 17, 2012 8:41 pm

    Thank you, Rev. Joseph Havrilka….your comment….charism, ministry and spirituality are what nuns are all about… I’ve been in Religious Life for 65 years. I was glad to see that Fr. Joe mentioned the Ursuline formation he had. I, myself, am an Ursuline and have taught 32 years and have ministered in parishes as a Pastoral Associate for 29 years. Each order has its own charism, etc. Nuns don’t appreciate being portrayed as some are on TV and Movies. We are all very educated women who love the life we have been called to.

    • Connect with Mercy Blog permalink
      April 18, 2012 12:30 pm

      Very well said, Sister Mary Sheila. Thank you.

    • Rev. Joseph Havrilka permalink
      April 18, 2012 12:47 pm

      Sisters, you are most welcome! Sister Sheila, I was taught by the Ursulines of the former Central Province at SCI(Springfield College in Il-formerly Springfield Junior College). I worked for the convent on a Music Scholarship and got to know scores of Sisters. Now, I return to Queen of Peace Infirmary in Alton, Il to share Eucharist with the Sisters retired there. It’s my little way of saying “thank you” for their gift of service to me and our diocese. Peace…Fr. Joseph

  8. Jeanne Christensen, RSM permalink
    April 18, 2012 2:10 pm

    Thank you, Cynthia…you’ve said it well…

  9. Suzanne permalink
    April 19, 2012 9:43 pm

    Cynthia, Great job. And right to the point.

    Suzanne Deliee

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