The 'unfunny' Three Stooges trailer: 5 talking points

The Farrely brothers attempt to revitalize the vaudevillian trio's classic comedy act. Critics are unamused

The Farrelly brothers' upcoming film, "The Three Stooges," stays true to the original slapstick material, but critics aren't convinced today's audiences want to see vaudevillian comedy.
(Image credit: YouTube)

Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk. The big screen resurrection of The Three Stooges — the vaudeville comedy act originally composed of Larry Fine, Moe Howard, and Curly Howard — was written and directed by the Farrelly brothers (There's Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber). The slapstick-heavy trailer was released this week (watch it below), offering a first look at the physical antics of stars Sean Hayes (Will and Grace), Will Sasso (MADtv), and Chris Diamantopoulos (The Starter Wife). Broken up into three vignettes, the film will follow the Stooges as they grow up in an orphanage staffed by a colorful group of nuns, get embroiled in a murder mystery, and then star on a successful reality show. The film, more than a decade in the making, will be released April 4, 2012. Here, five things critics are talking about:

1. The lead actors give uncanny performances...

Credit is certainly due to the actors for "faithfully reviving the Stooges as we remember them," says Katey Rich at Cinema Blend. "If you close your eyes and give a listen, says Jason Serafino at Complex, the trio sounds "almost indistinguishable" from the real Larry, Moe, and Curly. It's worth noting, however, that when this project was first announced, Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, and Jim Carrey were on board to play the Stooges, says Ben Child at the U.K.'s Guardian. Settling for their TV star replacements "is a bit like being offered" a delicious steak, and then being served canned Spam.

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2. ...But the humor doesn't translate to modern times

Taking a cue from film versions of The Brady Bunch and The Addams Family, the film seems to mine flummoxed, fish-out-of-water humor by having the Stooges "permanently anchored to the decade they originated from," says Kyle Buchanan at New York. But if a lame joke about Curly not understanding the iPhone is any indication, "the Stooges don't fit into the 21st century very easily." Simply put, says Mike Lee at Fused Film, the trailer is "flat out unfunny."

3. The supporting cast looks fantastic...

The Farrely brothers assembled an all-star supporting cast to act as foils to the Stooges, including Jennifer Hudson, Jane Lynch, and, yes, Larry David as nuns, says The Improper. At the very least, says Serafino, "Larry David looks hilarious in a dress."

4. ...Except for the Jersey Shore cameos

As if the trailer's uninspired jokes aren't enough to scare you away from this film, says Matt Patches at Hollywood, Snooki shows up. The mere presence of the Jersey Shore meatheads "hardly suggests that the Farrelys are aiming for timeless classic status," says Child.

5. Nostalgia isn't a good reason to bring the Stooges back

There is certainly a marketplace for hilarious comedy in which "people fall over, get hit in the balls, otherwise humiliate themselves, and generally fall over and get hit in the head by things," says Brian Moylan at Gawker. But 2011 already has its own version of that: Jackass. This movie seems like "the worst kind of nostalgia, dipping into the canon of the Stooges but without updating it for today's audience or adding something new, interesting, or original."

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