The Three Stooges is to movies what a tribute band is to music: an attempt to replicate the real thing. It was made by two guys — Peter and Bobby Farrelly — who obviously love the Three Stooges and have an apparently encyclopedic knowledge of their short films, judging by the inclusion of old gags and bits of dialogue in the course of the film. They’ve also managed to find three guys who kind of look like the originals, at least in make-up, and who can effectively mimic their moves and voices. At its best, the result kind of looks like the Stooges and it kind of looks like a Stooges movie, but it feels artificial—much in the way a bowl of wax fruit looks like fruit. At its worst, it’s considerably worse. Like most people of my generation, I grew up on the short films but I couldn’t be called a fan. However, I have a good working knowledge of the boys in their prime, and I appreciate the casual surrealism of those films, and that’s lacking here. It’s not that the Three Stooges originals have dated, it’s that the boys always inhabited their own world. In a real Stooges film you were likely to find them encountering mad scientists, witch doctors, Egyptian mummies, snooty dowagers, you name it. The new film has none of this. What it has instead is a sappy plot about saving a Catholic orphanage stolen from The Blues Brothers, a duel involving peeing babies (no, I’m not making that up), and the intrusion of the supremely untalented cast of The Jersey Shore. Oh, yes, and there’s a Stooges origin story. (Comic book movies have much to answer for.) I suppose the film may hold some appeal to young children and to diehard Stooge fans, but they’d all be better served by revisiting the short films on DVD rather than this ill-advised simulacrum.
Director: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly
Writer: Mike Cerrone, Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly
Producer: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Bradley Thomas and Charles B. Wessler
Cast: Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson, Sofia Vergara, Craig Bierko, Stephen Collins, Larry David and Kirby Heyborne