The Three Stooges are a virtually immortal film comedy team. Their humorous antics can be called "childlike" on account of they injure one another repeatedly, and lack the simplest thinking skills. Coming Soon: A Major Motion Picture Homage!
In 1934, the quintessential Three Stooges lineup Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard broke ties with their MC taskmaster (and, at that point, an alcoholic miserable prick) Ted Healy, and signed a contract with a different miserable prick, Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Pictures.
Moe and Larry had worked vaudeville (ask a great-grandparent) in Healy's revues since the early 1920s along with Moe's older brother Shemp Howard. When he'd had too much of the boss' swellheadedness and money-grabbing, Shemp told Healy to go poke himself and dropped out into a solo career. In short order, the vacant spot was filled by the Howards' baby brother Curly, who ripened into The Most Beloved Stooge of All Time.
As a result of an offscreen life that regularly included at least a half dozen of the Seven Deadly Sins, Curly Howard (The Most Beloved Stooge In The Observable Universe) suffered an unhumorous stroke in 1947 and died, not in a funny way, in 1952 . Curly starred in 97 Columbia shorts.
Shemp Howard was a legitimate replacement for Curly, being Curly's brother (except that's a brother swap even less satisfying than Jim for John Belushi). The studio intially expressed worries that Shemp looked like Moe, which had to be considered a vicious insult to Moe. Budget cuts meant escalating use of recycled bits and pieces in the 77 Columbia shorts featuring Shemp. A few of those episodes required Fake Shemp embedding.
The Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber, There's Something About Mary) Brothers' The Three Stooges movie has been in development since 1996. Perhaps they found it difficult to wrap other heads around the concept.
This brand new folly should not be confused with the made-for-TV biopic/melodrama (2000) produced by self-exposed Stooge fanboy Mel Gibson. Gibson's fascination with Howard, Fine & Howard is evident in the Stooges-inspired sequences in his films Lethal Weapon and The Passion of the Christ.
The cast of stars originally touted for the Farrelly's film seems like it would have put the budget into the stratosphere: Benicio del Toro as Moe, Sean Penn as Larry, and Jim "Ha Ha" Carrey as Curly. In our important opinion, Penn and del Toro would have made for a gravitas overload, whereas a fatted-up Carrey could only humiliate himself along with the project. In any case, they all eventually bailed, citing good judgment, and were replaced with actors you're less likely to know unless you're related to them:
Chris Diamantopoulos is Moe. He's played Robin Williams and Frank Sinatra in TV movies, so rates props for versatility at least.
Sean Hayes is Larry. If we ever watched Will And Grace, we might know if this guy deserves the awards he's accumulated out of that.
Will Sasso is Curly. We have caught his badass Steven Seagal schtick on MAD TV, but can he be awesome enough to channel America's Sweetheart Stooge?