As time goes on, things change. Fashion, social norms, political topics, religious thoughts and even senses of humor are all affected by time. Things that were interesting 20 or 30 years ago look strange and archaic today (look no further than the style of the 80’s for proof of that). The Three Stooges is a good example of something that hasn’t aged well. Watching the classic skits the trio was known for today is interesting only for their pop culture history value; the skits themselves don’t hold up well and most certainly aren’t funny. But that isn’t stopping the Farrelly brothers from resurrecting them with a brand new feature length film, simply titled The Three Stooges, and it’s as awful as can be.
The movie follows Moe (Chris Diamantopoulous), Larry (Sean Hayes) and Curly (Will Sasso) as they attempt to save their childhood orphanage from bankruptcy. Along the way, they find themselves stuck in the thick of a murder plot and even starring opposite the cast on Jersey Shore. It’s a loose plot if there ever was one, given that the physically abusive humor the Stooges are known for can happen anywhere. They could be on a farm, in the middle of a big city or on the moon and it would hardly make a difference. Slapstick humor by its very nature is random and unnecessary, rarely generating from the necessity of the story at hand. Therefore, the story is inconsequential, the orphanage a meaningless plot device to throw the trio out into the world to act like idiots.
One could make the argument that the Three Stooges pushed the envelope in their heyday. They were harming each other well before Looney Tunes popularized it among children. In a time when little was tolerated in the media, the Three Stooges were making violence funny (or at least trying). However, we’ve progressed since then. Critics constantly criticize a film that relies almost exclusively on slapstick humor, and for good reason—it’s the lowest form of comedy and requires no creative talent—yet slapstick humor is all the Three Stooges are known for. They have little to offer in the way of depth or innovation and their brand of comedy is simply not funny by today’s standards, rendering them irrelevant.
But their general unpleasantness goes further than just bad comedy. We’re in a time when children can’t even go to school without being bullied, including by those they call their friends, highlighted well in this week’s succinctly titled documentary, Bully, yet bullying is all the Stooges do. The slightest thing happens and the Stooges, particularly Moe, become angry and begin to attack those around them. The film may be rated PG and targeted at kids, but I’m not too sure this movie is appropriate for them, partly because many of them imitate what they see. Aside from the expected eye poking and face slapping, you’ll see the Stooges take a chainsaw to Curly’s head, crush others under heavy objects, shove someone’s head into a microwave and turn it on and even attempt to murder someone by pushing a man in front of a moving truck. Later, when they find out their attempted murder failed, they venture to the hospital to smother their victim with a pillow and finish the job. This behavior is, for lack of a better word, unacceptable and unsuitable for the growing minds of children. A post-film PSA about the illusion of film from two good looking men claiming to be the Farrelly brothers does nothing to negate its harmful and mean-spirited nature.
The Three Stooges have no place in today’s world. This update includes modern day references to things like Facebook and iPhones, but it doesn’t change the fact that its humor is cruel and stuck in the past. There’s maybe one clever joke in the entire film and it’s a spoken line, not an image of someone getting poked in the eye or hit in the groin or punched in the face, and it’s not nearly enough. With inflation occurring alongside a weakening dollar and an economy that is forcing many to struggle to get by, we should demand more for our money than what this abysmal movie has to offer.
The Three Stooges receives 0.5/5