A sledgehammer, a potato peeler, a church bell, baby pee, and a chainsaw (yes, a chainsaw) are just a few of the ‘weapons’ with which the Three Stooges assault each other (and other people) in the Farrelly Brothers’ homage to the nyuk-nyuk trio.

Low-brow, meet slapstick. And multiply by ten.

While the humor works much better in small doses (like the 15-minute shorts starring the Stooges throughout the middle part of the last century), the 2012 movie version actually does what it sets out to do… make you chuckle, if not outright belly laugh.

The Three Stooges is billed as a family film; 20th Century Fox spent a lot of their TV marketing budget buying ad time on Nickelodeon and The Disney Channel, emphasizing the movie’s PG rating. And while it’s questionable how ‘kid-friendly’ it is (taking into account the murder-for-hire storyline and the gratuitous pelting the Stooges all sustain), the humor is unquestionable juvenile.

The boys (we see them first as babies and then, again, as ten-year-olds before we finally get the adult incarnation) have been living happily, wreaking havoc in an orphanage. When word arrives that the orphanage needs $830,000 to stay afloat, Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos), Larry (Sean Hayes), and Curly (Will Sasso) take it on themselves to raise the cash– thinking it’ll be a no-brainer (good thing for them).

Fortunately, they trip on Lydia (Sofia Vergara), who’s trying to bump off her rich husband. Hilarity ensues as the Stooges end up going after the wrong guy… again and again.

The Farrellys obviously have a deep-seeded love for the source material; they made sure to include everything that made the original Stooges great– boinks, bonks, and woo-woo-woos dominate the festivities. And the guys themselves offer up pitch-perfect reincarnations, complete with Moe’s ‘wise guy’ lingo, jutting underbite, and bowl haircut.

The script, which the Farrellys co-wrote with longtime collaborator Mike Cerrone, is amusing in parts and very funny in others, but after 90 minutes, the comedy does start getting a little tired– even though the movie is technically constructed as a series of three separate ‘shorts’.

As for the cast, Hayes and Diamantopoulos do fine (no pun intended) work, but it’s Sasso, in particular, who stands out. He channels Curly in a way that’s soitenly making the late, great Curly smile, up in Three Stooges heaven.

It’s debatable how much of a ‘kids movie’ this is (though there is a rather effective ‘Don’t Try This at Home’ epilogue), but if the Stooges are your cup of tea, by all means drink up.

Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

3/5 stars