Since the mid-1920s, the Three Stooges — whether Moe, Larry and Curly or the first incarnation of Moe, Larry and Shemp — and their iconic brand of often violent slapstick have won millions of fans around the world. Two of those fans, Peter and Bobby Farrelly, have been trying for years to make a movie not so much about the Stooges as a tribute to them.
Well, here it is.
“The Three Stooges” takes our beloved Moe, Larry and Curly and transplants them into the present day. Our story begins with three adorable baby Stooges being dropped off at – actually thrown at — an orphanage in a duffel bag. This is when we meet the visual spectacle that is Larry David playing Sister Mary-Mengele. Supermodel Kate Upton as a nun is a different type of visual spectacle. They have one thing in common, though: They’re funny.
Ten years later, we meet Moe, Larry and Curly as young boys. If you didn’t already understand what kind of movie this was going to be, just observe 10-year-old Larry’s already receding hairline. The boys are no longer adorable. They’ve blossomed into three moronic sadists who nobody in their right mind would want to adopt.
No need to ruin some of the movie’s best jokes, so I’ll just skip to the plot. Eventually, these three idiots are going to have a week to raise $840,000 to save the orphanage. Their best opportunity presents itself in the form of “Modern Family” star Sophia Vergara, who wants the boys to kill her husband. In the process, we’re treated to Farrelly-esque re-creations of the Stooges’ best slapstick and trademark punny humor.
“The Three Stooges” simply wouldn’t work without the nearly flawless performances from Sean Hayes as Larry, Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe and Will Sasso as Curly. Sasso, probably best-remembered from “MADtv,” has been doing a killer Curly impression for years, but it’s former “Will & Grace” star Hayes’ transformation as Larry that impresses the most. And while Diamantopoulos (“The Starter Wife,” “24″) likely isn’t familiar to most audiences, he’s outstanding as Moe.
Mind you, not everything the original Stooges did worked. The slapstick at times felt redundant and jokes fell flat, and the same goes for this movie. However, much more often than not it does work, and when it does “The Three Stooges” is brilliantly choreographed stupidity, a meticulous farce paying tribute to the kings of meticulous slapstick and farce.
Three-and-a-half out of five stars.