- Rated PG
- Buy the BD
All photos © 20th Century Fox
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
’ve never really understood the appeal of The Three Stooges, so when it was announced that the Farrelly brothers were bringing the trio of eye-poking, dim-witted knuckleheads to the big screen, you can imagine my complete lack of excitement. And apparently, I wasn't the only one who felt that way, because the project was stuck in Development Hell for years – with Jim Carrey, Sean Penn and Benicio del Toro originally attached to star – before the Farrellys finally got the movie off the ground. Although it would have been interesting to see what that other version might have looked like, it couldn't have been any worse than this well-meaning but hopeless homage to Moe, Larry and Curly that even longtime Stooges fans won't find very funny.
Though it’s presented as three short “episodes” (with title cards before each act), the film tells one complete story, beginning on the day that their younger selves were left on the doorstep of an orphanage run by the saintly Mother Superior (Jane Lynch). 35 years later, the inseparable Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos), Larry (Sean Hayes) and Curly (Will Sasso) are still driving the nuns at the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage crazy, having never been adopted and causing more trouble than they’re worth. But when they learn that their home is being shut down due to some massive debts, the trio heads out into the real world to raise the money and save their home, unknowingly getting involved in a murder scam with a scheming trophy wife (Sofia Vergara) and her secret lover (Craig Bierko).
For what it’s worth, Diamantopoulos, Hayes and Sasso deliver near-perfect imitations of the beloved characters, with Sasso in particular really nailing Curly’s eccentricities. But while all three actors have clearly gone to great lengths to make their performances as genuine as possible, the shtick gets old pretty quickly, through no fault of their own. There’s a reason why the Stooges were known more for their shorts than their features, and that’s because you can only take so much slapstick violence before it starts to lose its comedic edge. Watching the three idiots exchange pokes, slaps and punches for 15 minutes is one thing, but laboring through 90 minutes of those gags isn't as much fun.
Bobby and Peter Farrelly are supposedly diehard fans of The Three Stooges, but if that’s the case, you’d think they would've shown a little more respect for the characters. Although they understand what makes the trio tick (lots of bodily harm and silly puns), the movie is poorly executed and has some really embarrassing moments, including a laughably bad opening sequence featuring the Stooges at age 10, a hospital scene that ends with them using babies as squirt guns, and a subplot where Moe becomes the newest cast member of "Jersey Shore." Credit to the guys and girls of the MTV series for playing along, because for once in their lives, they're not the butt of the joke. Granted, that was the intention, but “The Three Stooges” is so incredibly unfunny that the real joke is on those who thought that an 85-year-old comedy act still had some life left in it.