I never was really much of a fan of "The Three Stooges," although I did watch it as a child.

The idea of an updated feature film wasn't something I was looking forward to - even when Jim Carrey, Benicio Del Toro and Sean Penn were rumored to be part of the project.

So imagine my surprise when I actually liked this adaptation from Bobby and Peter Farrelly. Sure, it's silly, but it made me laugh a lot more than I expected.

"Three Stooges" centers on the familiar trio of Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos), Larry (Sean Hayes) and Curly (Will Sasso), who are dropped at an orphanage as infants and raised by nuns (including Jane Lynch and Larry David).

When the orphanage's fate is in doubt due to back taxes, the Stooges set out to save their beloved home - only to discover a world unlike anything they've ever seen.

The trailer looked dreadful, so my expectations were very low coming in. Much to my surprise, however, the Farrelly brothers and the three leads make it work. You can tell the Farrellys are fans of the original shorts - they are very respectful to that material. It's all quite simple, with plenty of sight gags and puns aimed at the 10-year-old boy in all of us. Sure, there are moments when I groaned, but there are plenty of laughs to be had as well - especially if you are a fan of the Stooges.

The three leads should be commended as well. They perfectly capture the dopey innocence of the characters with some rather impressive mimicry of the iconic characters. The biggest surprise is Hayes, of "Will and Grace" fame. His Larry is pitch perfect.

The supporting cast gets some laughs as well, especially David and Sofia Vergara as a woman who tries to hire the Stooges to kill her husband.

"The Three Stooges" won't appeal to everyone, so here is your litmus test. If you don't think it would be funny to see Moe eye-poke, punch and slap the entire cast of "Jersey Shore," then you might want to stay away. If, like me, you find it funny, then "The Three Stooges" is the movie for you.

DVD dandy of the week

This week's dandy is "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" (B). The fourth installment in the popular action series features some breathtaking sequences expertly crafted by director Brad Bird.

Sure, the story is kind of silly and some of the stunts are a little over the top, but I was entertained for most of the way.

"Ghost Protocol" begins with IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) breaking out of prison to help prevent a Swedish terrorist (Michael Nyqvist) from acquiring Russian nuclear launch codes.

When the mission goes bad, IMF is disbanded, forcing Hunt and his crew (Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton and Simon Pegg) to go rogue and stop the terrorist before he is able to start a nuclear war.

"Ghost Protocol" is essentially a series of set action sequences, with Bird - the man behind Pixar's "The Incredibles" - staging some pretty thrilling moments. The highlight is Cruise dangling high atop a Dubai high rise, but there are other solid moments, ranging from a Kremlin explosion to a car chase through a sand storm to the opening prison break.

Cruise is pretty comfortable in this role, and he has a lot of fun here. Renner shows a softer side than in recent films, while Pegg provides the comic relief.

"Ghost Protocol" does feel a little long, and the finale is maybe a bit over the top, but it's a small quibble for a film that for the most part delivers what it promises - entertaining escapism that should please most action fans.

"Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and is available on DVD.

- To get sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton's up-to-the minute thoughts on all things movies, visit his blog at mcompton.wordpress.com or his Twitter page at twitter.com/mcompton428. You can also email him at mcompton@bgdailynews.com.



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