What we know today as the Three Stooges actually began existence as Ted Healy and His Stooges, aka Ted Healy and His Southern Gentlemen, among other aliases.
Ted would attempt to sing or tell jokes while his assistants would interrupt him, whereupon he would physicaly and verbally abuse them. Then Mr. Healy died in 1937 and of course, the show must go on. So, the Three Stooges were born, with their first line-up consisting of Moe, Larry and Curly.
The act became very popular, and the Hollywood studio machine mistreated them. Millions they could have earned were left on the table, as the studio had the actors convinced the market for short subjects was dying out, the exact opposite of the truth.
Then Curly fell ill and Shemp had to return to the act to replace. Curly died in 1952. Shemp, who had a viable career of his own wanted his return to be temporary, but then he died, bringing Joe Besser to the act. In one form or another, the Stooges were around until the last attempt to get them back on screen died along with Moe in 1975.
Now we have a feature film that is really a couple of the traditional shorts done by the Stooges, remade in fine form, that tie together to make a typical Farrelly Brothers film.
The boys are dropped off at an orphanage while still little tykes, and among the nuns they find there to care for them is Sister Mary-Mengele (Larry David), who refuses to take any guff off of the boys. There is a brief attempt to adopt Moe, but it falls through and by the time the first short is over and the second is beginning, the young boys are now grown men.
Grown physically perhaps, but their mental growth is entirely hypothetical.
The orphanage where they live is in financial trouble and needs to find $830,000 before the next month begins or they will be sold, and the kids sent to foster homes. Larry, Moe and Curly vow to go out into the world and find the money.
There they meet up with a beautiful woman who is more than willing to pay them the $830,000 if they’ll only kill her husband. But the man she points out as allegedly being her husband really isn’t and he nearly dies in an accident arranged by the boys. Turns out that the woman’s actual husband is the young boy who was adopted in Moe’s place and who is now a successful lawyer and well-to-do gentleman, thanks to his mother leaving her fortune to him. That’s why his wife wants him dead.
Through a comedy of errors and lots of slapstick, their efforts to finish the killing go awry and eventually Moe is off on his own. Naturally he falls in with a new crowd and is soon installed as the newest star, “Dnya-Moe” on the Jersy Shore. This may lead to their ultimate salvation.
To tell too much more of the story is to spoil it. Just go, expect the typical humor one would expect from the Stooges, including eye-poking, eye-gouging, nose banging, top of the head pounding and so on. There’s even a post-film cautionary demonstration from the brother directors informing their young audience “don’t do this at home!”
Settle in for laughs. They will come frequently, regularly and some of them will be the old-styled Laugh Out Loud that became the LOL acronym.
Oh, and stay for the entire credits… trust me.