Now 90 years later, the imbeciles still manage to pummel audiences into submission with their relentless stupidity.
Even by their standards, “The Three Stooges” is overly juvenile and totally dumb. There is little novelty to the dated slapstick comedy that modern audiences are out of touch with and just don’t find as funny.
“You haven’t changed a bit,” one character tells the Stooges in the film, and maybe they should have to reach today’s viewers.
The movie seems to have more of an appeal to the older generation that remembers the ridiculous trio than to younger generations willing to watch grown men beat each other with hammers and chain saws.
The good news is the film is a heartfelt homage to the Stooges of the past, and its leading actors do a remarkable job of channeling the various energies and quirks of Moe, Larry and Curly.
Kids who have never seen the Stooges, and adults who haven’t revisited them lately, may have a good laugh, but ultimately the movie is the comedy equivalent of cubic zirconium: an imitation.
Brothers Peter and Bobby Farrelly, who directed the movie, serve up a heavy dose of straight-up silliness and stupidity. But in an age of many different comedic styles, the only way they can get away with it is by using the familiar characters of the Stooges and the brand of comedy they created so successfully.
The storyline is as simple as can be. The orphanage where the three stooges have been raised is going to be shut down, unless someone can raise $830,000 in a month. Moe, Larry and Curly, having been sheltered from the outside world and any skills other than causing mayhem and beating each other, still set out to find the necessary funds on a three-person bike.
None of this would be possible without the inspired and fully-committed performances of Sean Hayes as Larry, Will Sasso as Curly and Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe, not to mention the kids who play them as 10-year-olds, which was actually one of the funnier parts of the movie.
They never break character or seem to be just reading lines. They fell into their characters very well. Most of the supporting cast gets into the spirit of the film as well.
The gags and classic Stooge-style wordplay come off well most of the time, so there’s no point in nitpicking the ones that don’t or complaining about matters of taste, since the real Stooges’ jokes were often crass and crude as well.
Yet even with these hijinks, laughter is kept to a minimum.
Perhaps over the years of watching the original Stooges and other slapstick comedians of the era, it’s hard to accept a replica, however well-intended.
It is good to see somebody reviving this neglected brand of comedy, but sadly this particular film is just outright imitation.