Back in the days (of vaudeville) and the golden age of slapstick, The Three Stooges were an American vaudeville and comedy troupe best known for their numerous short films. Their trademark was heavy physical farce and extremely vicious slapstick, now they’re back in a 2012 reboot.
It’s over 50 years since their last short film was released, yet the Three Stooges still remain popular with audiences. Their films have never left US television since first appearing in 1958, and they continue to delight old fans and attract new admirers. The Three Stooges (originally called “Ted Healy and His Southern Gentlemen” pub quiz fans) were a very blue collar set of comedians, who were never pleased (or played to) the critics. However, their very durable act endured several lineup changes (much like the Sugababes). In their films, the Stooges were commonly known by their Christian names: “Moe, Larry, and Curly” This trio began their cinematic life with a feature film entitled Soup to Nuts. Now the Three Stooges are getting a modern re-boot, so we get lines like, “Those three idiots are here!” prompting, “The Kardashian girls?” ho-ho (no–ho)
The film’s story places the Stooges in a modern setting and our 2012 three Stooges (still Moe, Larry, and Curly (not the Iggy Pop Stooges)) are trying to save their childhood orphanage (because they are “pure or heart” and as a nun adds, “dim of wit”). In this age of austerity they are looking for the very modern sum of $830,000. En route to success they inadvertently stumble onto a murder plot and then end up starring in a reality TV show.
The Three Stooges was produced, written and directed by the Farrelly brothers and co-written by Mike Cerrone. Sean Hayes, Will Sasso and Chris Diamantopoulos do an adequate job of reconstructing the frenzied slapstick antics of the classic Three Stooges originally played by Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard, slapping each other in the face and poking one another in the eye to a comedy soundtrack. But, as mentioned above the original (films) are still going strong, the question surely is why would anyone want to remake them.
That’s the problem with the Three Stooges, it falls between two stools (please feel free to insert your own Three Stooges visual gag there). It’s hardly likely to be popular with their fans (Stoogies?) as the cast do tricks and gags they’ve all seen before, not quite as well as the originals do. If you’re not a fan of the Three Stooges you won’t like what you see here, so The Three Stooges is neither warm nor cold to modern audiences.
More interesting than the actual film is the background to it, to wit; Sean (Falkland Islanders botherer) Penn was almost cast as Larry Fine (which would have been amazing to see), Johnny Depp was rumored for a role (which would have been reason enough to go see The Three Stooges), Paul Giamatti was up for the role of Larry, Jim Carrey was supposedly cast as Curly, but refused to wear a fat suit, and decided he was too old to gain the necessary weight (without risking his health) so passed on the project, Benicio Del Toro was in contention for Moe, and at one point Johnny Knoxville and Andy Samberg were also attached to the film. Any of those actors would have given the film a (sadly lacking) twist. Thankfully Glee’s Jane Lynch plays the orphanage’s Mother Superior and Larry David is (a vicious) Sister Mary-Mengele. But we needed more of that avant garde casting and less of the lazy boink hits.