'The Three Stooges' opens today, to feature several Bartow connections
by Marie Nesmith
Apr 13, 2012 | 3703 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Opening today in theaters, "The Three Stooges" will showcase a variety of Bartow connections. From transforming a three-story brick homeplace into a mock orphanage to utilizing children as extras, the 20th Century Fox film will emanate a feeling a familiarity for many local moviegoers.

"It always excites me when I see a local venue in a movie," said Regina Wheeler, deputy director for the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau. "It's just cool to see that. Even if it's not within our community, if it's a place you know it's really neat to recognize it on-screen.

"I have children, so I do plan to see it. I don't know if I'll get there opening weekend. Our schedule doesn't allow us to get to the movies too often but I do plan on trying to see it on the big screen. We are Stooges fans."

Directed by brothers Bobby and Peter Farrelly, the film highlights the slapstick antics of Curly, Larry and Moe, portrayed by Will Sasso, Sean Hayes and Chris Diamantopoulos, respectively. With the Farrellys being fans of the Stooges' shorts from the early to mid-20th century, their PG-rated film pays homage to the characters' original appearance, sound effects and interaction.

"There were a lot of people who were like, 'The Farrellys are going to ruin it. The Stooges are not the Farrellys.' And we knew that," Peter Farrelly told the Associated Press. "This isn't 'Something About Mary.' This is the Stooges, and we didn't want to thrust our sensibilities on the Stooges. We wanted to adjust to their sensibilities. ...

"What's sacrilegious to us is that so many kids today don't know the Stooges, and they're our favorite of all time. We love the Stooges, so we made this movie because of our love for the Three Stooges. We want to bring it back. We want their legacy to last."

As reviews started flowing in on Rotten Tomatoes' website, "The Three Stooges" received a 50 percent out of 100 percent score from critics on Thursday afternoon. Posted on www.rottentomatoes.com, reviews ranged from John Anderson of Newsday's "One of the Farrellys' better films and a movie in which excess -- the hallmark of everyone involved -- is decidedly a virtue" to Roger Ebert with Chicago Sun-Times' "I didn't laugh much."

Since the movie's interior scenes were filmed at the Atlanta Civic Center, the key actors commuted daily to Cartersville for several weeks in 2011 to the Ryals-Davis Home. The homeplace at 900 Old Alabama Road serves as an orphanage in the movie, which is told in three segments.

"That's where the film opens," the film's publicity coordinator Ernie Malik told The Daily Tribune News in July. "The first act of the film takes place pretty much at the orphanage.

"We cut to scenes 25 to 30 years earlier when the three [lead characters] were just kids, and then we do that cut where they're grown up and they work there as maintenance workers. And at the end of the first act they have to leave to try to raise money to save the orphanage, which is about to go out of business."

Situated on 300 acres, the Ryals-Davis Home was built in the late 1850s by the Ryals family. According to Lehmann Smith, who is one of the property's managers, the home was spared during the Civil War because Union soldiers used the structure as a small hospital. Now restored, the building is no stranger to the film industry. Along with being featured in "The Three Stooges," it also has been utilized for the Steve Martin movie "A Simple Twist of Fate" and various made-for-TV films.

For Wheeler, there are numerous advantages to working with the entertainment industry. In 2011, the CVB responded to at least two inquiries a month concerning filming locations. Throughout the years, Bartow has served as a backdrop for many films and TV shows, such as "Mosquito Coast" and "I'll Fly Away."

"As a Camera Ready community, we are putting our venues out there -- our sites, our beautiful scenery, architectural marvels that we have here within our county," Wheeler said. "And these can be from the finest antebellum home to a dirt road with a hunting camp and a shack, if you will. Lots of different scenes can play out in movies. So we're very pleased to be Camera Ready and what this brings us is a good working relationship with the state of Georgia film division and all of their scouts to bring filming to our community, both for TV, major screen filming and ... [commercials].

"But behind the scenes, this brings us people. This brings us exposure and it brings us money. People come into town. They have to eat. They have to gas up. They have to have supplies. So there's a residual effect through purchases and tax. So it is an economic generator."

Ever hopeful, Wheeler said the ideal situation would be for Bartow to serve as the backdrop for an iconic film, thus spurring national tourism for the county.

"[We are] still looking for that film that's going to put us on the map," she said. "Other cities have had those and are very well known. ['Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil'], that spurred new tourism product for Savannah, a new way of looking at Savannah.

"There were a lot of tour companies that came in and began to do tours specifically based on that film. ... So we're still looking for that type of [project]. But the more we work with the film division, the more that the industry becomes well known and well acquainted with our community, we think that that will come one day."