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Can the Farrelly brothers make a comeback?

February 25, 2011 | 10:03 am

  Hallpas

It's been nearly 15 years since "There's Something About Mary" and its hair-gel hilarity defined a comedy culture and made superstars out of filmmakers Peter and Bobby Farrelly.

The boys from Rhode Island have been cranking out the films in the intervening years -- a prolific seven that they wrote and directed, not to mention those they produced -- but finding a hit has been tougher. In fact, it's been nearly a decade since their last bona fide commercial success, the Jack Black satire "Shallow Hal" in 2001, as they've fought the perception that Judd Apatow and a host of other filmmakers have more successfully walked the path that they blazed.

The Farrellys will probably be most closely judged by their passion project "The Three Stooges," which they shoot this spring (their argument to us for why it needed to be made can be read here). But first they try to make their comeback with "Hall Pass," the Owen Wilson-starring story of infidelity and marital malaise, which marks only their second R-rated comedy in 11 years.

They have their work cut out for them. In 2007, their Ben Stiller romantic comedy “The Heartbreak Kid” earned the weakest reviews of their career and also disappointed at the box office. (Peter attributes both largely to the fact that DreamWorks insisted they keep the same title as the 1970s classic.) This after their previous two films, “Fever Pitch” and “Stuck on You,” tallied their second-lowest and lowest box-office totals since 1996. Even their ardent fans would have a hard time arguing against a falloff.

But if they have an awareness that other R-rated comedy maestros have taken their mantle, it's not evident in an interview we conducted with them. “There's a lot of hate on the Internet,” Peter told us. “If you Google ‘Mother Teresa,’ you're going to see a lot of hate. So I don't look at a lot of bloggers.”

Bobby explains why he thinks comedy directors can lose their touch, and why he thinks he and his brother have avoided the traps that lead to irrelevance. “The trick is to still have an idea of what's funny in the world,” said Bobby, who lives in Massachusetts. "A lot of times when people become real successful, you have a tendency to build a big home somewhere and you become reclusive and you lose touch with John Q. Public." "Hall Pass" and the "Stooges" will go a long way to determine just where they stand with that public.

-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: "Hall Pass." Credit: New Line

 


 
Comments () | Archives (5)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Personally, I think NOTHING can replace the original stooges, so doing a "re-make" would be pointless.

You touch on a fascinating topic - why do some artists for lack of a better phrase 'lose it?'

Lawrence Kasdan. Barry Levinson. Francis Ford Coppola. Their recent output can't compare to their best work. Why?

I think comedians do suffer when they become rich, famous and removed from society to a certain extent.

Although after watching "Hall Pass" I don't think living away from Hollywood did the Brothers any favors.

I really like these guys, but they always do some kind of weird plot that most people don't want to see for some reason.

Hearbreak Kid was about a guy cheating on his honeymoon (woman don't want to see that), Stuck on You was about conjoined twin actors (ehh just creepy), Fever Pitch was about a Red Sox fan (I love the Sox, but most people don't) and this new movie is about guys cheating again.

The off-the-wall, sometimes downright dark "Kingpin" (1996) remains the pair's most underrated comedy to date.

I had to send you this comment about the 3 stooges. Curly is staring you right in the face and you do not see it. Who is the perfect one but Kevin James shaved head size is right there. How could you miss it. I am an old old fan of them.And i do mean old(79) lol


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