After kicking around the idea of rebooting the Stooges for more than fifteen years, Peter and Bobby Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary) finally realized their dream and brought back Larry, Curly, and Moe to a new generation. Originally they had cast Sean Penn, Jim Carrey, and Benicio Del Toro respectively for the parts, but time and other problems got in the way, and later, even Johnny Knoxville and Andy Samberg were considered. Years passed, scripts changed, and eventually Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, and Chris Diamantopoulos became the slapstick trio.
Their Three Stooges would be a sort of tribute to the original, but set in modern times, and featuring an “origins” story, where a car peels out at the orphanage, dropping the trio off in a sealed duffel bag. In typical Stooges manner, the tale begins with the all-too-familiar music, some sound effects (taken from the original shorts), and an episode entitled “Act/Episode 1: More Orphan Than Not.” The movie consists of three 27-minute shorts that are all tied together and hope to recreate some of the slapstick childlike innocence of the original series… and it’s rated PG to make sure the kiddos can enjoy it, too.
Plot doesn’t do a heck of a lot for the movie, but it’s a necessary evil, so here’s a quick rundown. Larry, Curly, and Moe are dropped at the orphanage and never adopted, so they continue to live there for thirty-five years. The nuns that take care of them (played by Glee’s Jane Lynch, Dream Girls’ Jennifer Hudson, swimsuit model Kate Upton, and Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm) are fed up with the Stooges, but when the orphanage is in danger of going under unless they can raise $830,000, they send the trio out to save it.
In Episode 2, the guys are trying to make money in the big city, when they come upon a woman named Lydia (Sofia Vergara) and a man posing as her husband, who offer them the exact amount they need if they will kill her husband. They (in typical Stooge fashion) can’t do the job right, and end up knee deep in a deeper conspiracy, Moe goes off to work on the reality TV show Jersey Shore and Larry and Curly must fend for themselves. Episode 3 ties it all together, but I won’t give it all away.
The Farrelly Brothers did a fine job in casting, and the main three actors do very well emulating the trio, especially Sasso as Curly, but the rest of the characters are pretty pathetic. Watching Larry David in drag, Kate Upton trying to act, a few “orphans” reading their lines verbatim, and Sofia Vergara as a bad guy, makes the movie nearly unwatchable at times. I didn’t even mind the Jersey Shore cast all that much, just because you get to see Moe smack them around a bit, but the real fun is getting to see Hayes, Sasso, and Diamantopoulos so perfectly embody the original trio. Plot, setting, and other characters didn’t really matter that much once you have those three.
There are quite a few throwback references that will keep the fans of the original happy, and the slapstick comedy is right on the money. Making it modern might have been a mistake, but the heart of the movie is not hurt by it. The trio sticking together despite the abuse, and their underlying brotherhood gives the flick a whimsical innocence, and it’s nice to see something these days that the kids can still enjoy. The Farrelly brothers (played by other actors) even come on at the end and explain that none of the violence was real, that the props were all rubber, and how to do a fake eye poke.
The DVD comes with about ten minutes of deleted and extended scenes that could have easily been left in the film, and a quick featurette titled “Three Stooges Mashup.” In it we get a three minute montage of all the physical gags, slaps, and nyuk nyuk nyuk’s set to upbeat classical music. Also stay tuned after the credits for a strange-but-funny music video of the guys singing, which includes bloopers and extra footage.