An American comedy institution is soiled by that ever-dwindling creative team that is the Farrelly brothers.
If turning in a reasonable facsimile of the original Three Stooges was the goal, then the Farrelly brothers’ latest film is at least a partial success.
Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos and Will Sasso nail both the voices and slapstick gestures of Larry, Moe and Curly. But no matter the reverence that the Farrellys show towards their source material, it’s difficult to find all the pratfalling, bad puns and mild gross-out gags engaging, even over the course of the film’s relatively brief (if seemingly endless) 90-minute runtime.
Unleashing our trio of holy fools into the world after 35 years in a Catholic orphanage, the Farrellys follow these overgrown children as they naively negotiate the bafflements of modern life while trying to raise the money needed to keep the orphanage afloat.
The film bears an odd relationship to the contemporary landscape, which makes sense, since most of its frisson comes from the Stooges’ status as walking anachronisms. Larry, Moe and Curly have no grasp of popular culture and their brand of humour hasn’t dated particularly well.
But the Farrellys’ attempts to satirise modern society are as unimaginative and ill-conceived as the movie’s unfortunate baby-pissing set-piece, and as tiresome as the endless eye-poking gags scored to dreary sound-effects. When Moe joins the cast of a popular reality
TV show and becomes a national sensation, the film seems to be reaching hard for relevance. Yet even as the head Stooge puts his obnoxious co-stars in their place, there’s little joy to be found in taking pot-shots at cultural phenomena already parodied to death elsewhere. The Farrellys, however, save their most fatal misfire for the finale, and a mawkish grab for unearned pathos.
Of all the iconic American screen figures, the Three Stooges are probably the least deserving of a twenty-first-century reboot.
The Farrelly brothers certainly seem to be enjoying themselves, but chances are high that you won’t.
This one barely sticks in the memory. The quicker it’s forgotten, the better.