The Farrelly Brothers, best known for Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary and Kingpin return to directing with a reboot of The Three Stooges. The original films revolved around three friends Larry, Moe and Curly who get up to all sorts of hijinx because of their naïve, clumsy and socially awkward ways.
The Three Stooges; Larry (Sean Hayes), Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos) and Curly (Will Sasso) are dropped off at an orphanage as babies and spend their childhoods being raised by the nuns who run it. As the years pass it becomes clear that no one wants to adopt them because of their destructive and clumsy ways and Mother Superior (Jane Lynch) hides them away. When the orphanage is threatened with closure, the three stooges go out into the world in an attempt to raise the $830,000 needed to save their home.
In the build-up to the release of The Three Stooges, audiences were treated to some of the most cringe-worthy, unfunny ‘highlights’ of the film in the trailers. The actual film is no where near as bad as these advertisements made it seem, but it’s not very good either. The main trio give their best impersonations of the original actors and there is plenty of nostalgic cutaways and the traditional “Stooges keep building toward a chaotic set-piece,” but the story is clichéd, tired and not in anyway engaging.
There are moments of intelligence as the Farrelly Brothers are clearly fans of The Three Stooges and as such the film plays a lot like a warm-hearted homage to the glory years of this sort of slapstick comedy. The clever split of the plot into three distinct parts (each with its own dividing graphic) help to hide the deficiencies of a story that is simply built around getting the men into a position to cause trouble. In many ways this is probably what fans of The Three Stooges will have been after.
But here lies the problem with The Three Stooges. It’s not funny. Comedy has moved on and the base-level of humour involved barely raises a smile, never mind a laugh. In the films worst scene the three stooges all hold babies toward each other, squeezing them until they urinate like a gun. If it sounds excruciatingly unfunny, then I’ve done it justice. These low-level gross-out gags may have had a place in cinema a decade ago, and fans of the original Three Stooges will find enough in here to justify seeing it, but the general film-going audience have moved on and the Farrelly Brothers, not to mention The Three Stooges have been quickly and thankfully left well behind.