It coulda been woise.
Fans will be glad to hear that the new "Three Stooges" movie, though set in the contemporary world, is true to the spirit of the original "Three Stooges" shorts from the 1930s and 1940s.
Mothers will not.
The Farrelly Brothers movie is divided into three segments, each with its own title card, each roughly the length of a 24-minute two-reeler. Nyuk, nyuk and nyuk.
Chris Diamantopoulos, as bowl-cut Moe; Sean Hayes, as curly-topped Larry; and especially Will Sasso, as buzz-cut Curly, do a fine job of re-creating the dim-witted high jinks, bad puns, vaudeville slapstick and heart-of-gold intent that made the Stooges a hit.
There's just as much slapping, head hitting, eye-poking, nose and ear twisting and other forms of mutual torture as in the originals, as well.
In other words, this movie is just as moronic as you'd expect.
The story line finds the three Stooge infants dumped on the steps of an orphanage, where they are (no surprise) never adopted but soon become the cause of rising insurance premiums for both the nuns and the orphanage.
They grow up to become orphanage maintenance men until Mother Superior (Jane Lynch) announces the place has to raise $830,000 or close.
In the process of trying to raise the money, the Stooges unwittingly (the word defines them) get caught up in a murder scheme involving a rich wife (Sofia Vergara) and her lover (Craig Bierko).
I did laugh out loud. Once. It was when the Stooges were atop a convent school roof attempting to repair a bell weighing several tons, and their squabbling caused it to fall, clocking mean old Sister Mary-Mengele (Larry David).
She had it coming, I say.
I also particularly enjoyed a segment in which the cast of "Jersey Shore" was subjected to the kind of torture the Stooges usually inflict on each other.
They had it coming, too.
Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson looks a little lost here playing a singing nun.
Other than all the violence in this PG-rated movie, its low-brow comedy mostly steered clear of going gross-out. There were a couple of leering smiles at busty women, and one joke about passing gas.
Oh, and an extended segment in which the Stooges, disguised as nurses, end up in a hospital maternity ward. Instructed to change the infants' diapers, they end up using the babies like squirt guns, if you get my drift. Luckily, the babies seem to have perfect aim, hitting only Stooge faces and not each other.
I guess that took the place of the usual pie fight.
Modernizing the Stooges gets a mixed response. When an old friend says he'll tweet the Stooges, Curly replies, "Tweet us to dinner? Soitanly!" And he holds an iPhone to his eye.
A postscript involving a couple of surprise cameos ("Kids: Don't try this at home") fell totally flat.
But I have a feeling Stooges fans are going to enjoy this full-color slice of silliness just fine.
Contact the writer: