Title: The Three Stooges
Directors: Bobby and Peter Farrelly
Starring: Sean Hayes, Will Sasso (TV’s ‘Family Guy’), Chris Diamantopoulos (TV’s ’24′), Sophia Vergera and Jane Lynch
Adapting a beloved comedy act from the mid-20th century into a modern-day feature film can put pressure on even the most experienced comedy screenwriters and directors, including acclaimed filmmakers Bobby and Peter Farrelly. While the two writers-directors seem like the perfect duo to script and helm the contemporary film adaptation of ‘The Three Stooges,’ their modernization of the comedy group unfortunately failed to capture the true essence of the popular act. The Farrellys had a commendable idea in bringing ‘The Three Stooges’ to a younger audience, but ultimately didn’t include any new ideas for the trio.
‘The Three Stooges’ follows three newborns, Moe (later played by Chris Diamantopoulos as an adult), Larry (portrayed by Will Sasso) and Curly (played by Sean Hayes), as they’re left on the doorstep of an orphanage run by Mother Superior (portrayed by Jane Lynch) and her nuns. While the three are initially embraced by the nuns, they grow up pulling pranks on everyone in the orphanage. As adults, the three are employed as the foster home’s inept maintenance men, and are determined to help save the orphanage when it accumulates debt and can no longer afford to stay open.
To make money, Moe, Larry and Curly are hired by Lydia (played by Sophia Vergera) to kill her husband, who inadvertently turns out to be one of the kids the stooges grew up with, Teddy (portrayed by Kirby Heyborne). When the three refuse to kill their long-lost friend, they become determined to find another way to raise the money to save the orphanage.
The Farrellys have been involved with the stooge’s big screen adaptation since 2001 and aimed to modernize their story, but ‘The Three Stooges’ unfortunately failed to live up to the filmmakers’ previous hit comedies, such as ‘Dumb and Dumber’ and ‘There’s Something About Mary.’ While ‘The Three Stooges’ does touch on such contemporary issues as protecting orphans in foster homes and a spouse who is only in a marriage for money, the Farrellys didn’t incorporate any modern physical comedy to appeal to younger audiences. The directors proclaimed they didn’t want to make a remake of the original comedy act, but the slapping, tripping and other slapstick comedy feels dated and unoriginal.
Besides the slapstick comedy, Moe, Larry and Curly did focus on the important issue of protecting those you care about and not only looking out for your own interest. While this is an important message for children to learn, the supporting characters are one-dimensional, and offer little positive reinforcement on why we should care about others. Lydia, for example, is portrayed as only caring about killing Teddy so that she can get his money, and is only in the film to bait Moe, Larry and Curly into murdering her husband for her. While the killing is a major driving force in ‘The Three Stooges,’ the Farrellys offer little background information on Lydia and her motivations, making it seem as though Vergera is only in the comedy for her looks.
‘The Three Stooges’ did capture some of the essence of physical comedy that made the original comedy act beloved by so many fans. There were several scenes that will surely leave many Americans wishing they were in Moe, Larry and Curly’s shoes, such as the moment when Moe signs up to appear on ‘Jersey Shore’ to make money for the orphanage, and begins slapping his fellow cast members. There’s also an extended hospital scene which many younger viewers will surely find amusing. The stooges, posing as nurses, begin change the babies’ diapers in the nursery, and have fun getting each other dirty.
The Farrellys made a whole-hearted attempt to modernize the beloved ‘Three Stooges,’ but disappointingly failed to create a note-worthy contemporary film that honored the comedy act or lived up to their previous work. Even with the help of praised and well-known comic Hayes and sex symbol Vergera, and working on the movie for 11 years, the filmmakers did little to feature a memorable story in between the stooges’ slapstick comedy. Children who are unfamiliar with the original comedy act will surely like the physical jokes in ‘The Three Stooges,’ but true fans are likely to be disappointed with the new updated project.
Written by: Karen Benardello