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DID YOU READ

Tim Grierson on “The Three Stooges” and the Risk of Casting Non-Stars

Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos and Sean Hayes in "The Three Stooges"

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Replacing cultural icons isn’t easy. For modern-day films, that challenge usually involves finding the right actor for a reboot of Superman or Spider-Man, but this Friday comes a new movie based on a property older than your typical comic-book character. It’s “The Three Stooges,” the big-screen remake inspired by the slapstick comedy act that first appeared on screen more than 80 years ago.

For a few generations of fans, Larry, Curly and Moe will always be, respectively, Larry Fine, Curly Howard and Moe Howard, but time marches on, and directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly had to find actors who could play these roles. Those are big shoes to fill. At one point, it looked like Sean Penn, Jim Carrey and Benicio Del Toro were going to do it, but instead “The Three Stooges” will star three lesser-known actors. So, who are these guys? One of them, you’ll probably recognize. The other two, you might need a little help.

The most famous of the trio is Sean Hayes, who will be Larry. His claim to fame was his role in the long-running sitcom “Will & Grace” as Jack, which earned him seven Emmy nominations. (He won once, in 2000.) Like a lot of actors who find success on TV, Hayes has mostly moved from thing to thing since — including doing one-off episodes for “Portlandia” and “30 Rock” — but most everybody still associates him with Jack, which I’m sure is a bit of a blessing and a curse.

But that’s still more high-profile than our new Curly, Will Sasso. Clean-shaven and beefy like Curly Howard before him, Sasso appeared on “Mad TV” for several seasons, and he’s kicked around since, starring on the short-lived “$#*! My Dad Says” and doing voices on “The Cleveland Show” and “Family Guy.” Although he’s played characters in movies like “Life as We Know It,” he’s primarily been an impression guy, spoofing Bill Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Randy Newman. So perhaps playing Curly isn’t that huge of a stretch — he basically just needs to imitate Howard.

Then there’s Chris Diamantopoulos. Before being cast as Moe, he was probably most famous for portraying Robin Williams in the 2005 TV movie “Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of ‘Mork & Mindy.’” Like Sasso, Diamantopoulos has gained notoriety for playing famous people — and his Williams is pretty darn good — but he’s also been able to establish an acting career with stints on “24” and “The Starter Wife.” Currently, he’s also the guy in those Charles Schwab ads.

All in all, decent résumés, but let’s be honest: We’re a long ways away from Sean Penn, Jim Carrey and Benicio Del Toro. And maybe that’s for the best. “The Three Stooges” represents a lifelong dream for the Farrelly brothers, whose biggest hit (“There’s Something About Mary”) was 14 years ago, which might as well be several lifetimes ago in Hollywood years. They’ve had a series of duds of late, but there was a sense that if they could just make this movie happen, then maybe they could right the ship. And while bigger stars in “The Three Stooges” would have definitely helped at the box office, the filmmakers insist that they ended up with the right cast — perhaps in part because they found guys you wouldn’t necessarily know from a lot of other roles. At least that’s how Peter Farrelly explained it in a recent interview:

“This movie couldn’t have been made any better with anyone else, the three we got are incredible. We’ve always been blessed to have people pass on us. We could sit here and say, it was a choice, but we couldn’t get anybody! People were scared to death to do this movie because of the criticism you see all over the internet and also because we were clear on one thing. We said, you’re not doing a version of Moe, Larry or Curly. You’re doing Moe, Larry and Curly, on the nose. This isn’t Batman, where different actors come in and do their thing. Nobody liked that. So we decided to cast the best Moe, Larry and Curly out there and these are the guys we came up with.”

And now they’re going to have to see if audiences are happy that these are the guys the Farrellys came up with. Like with a Batman or James Bond movie, “The Three Stooges” doesn’t necessarily need stars — it just needs someone who feels right for the part. Looking at the publicity materials, Hayes, Sasso and Diamantopoulos are reasonable physical facsimiles of Larry, Curly and Moe. Now they just have to convince us they’ve got the original trio’s comic timing and rapport. And, really, not being big stars probably won’t make any difference in that regard. Just being funny will probably be good enough.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…