Hollywood has been trying to revive The Three Stooges since even before the original Stooges had passed on, with the original Stooges shorts being repackaged and re-edited into multiple forms for film and television constantly over the intervening decades. The Farrelly Brothers attempted for years to launch a full-blown reboot of the property with modern actors, but the resulting film arrived as a critical and box-office dud in 2012.
Now, plans are underway to bring the comic characters back to life again, but there is a twist. Apparently, The Three Stooges will receive a reboot from C3 Entertainment, wherein Moe, Larry, and Curly will be played by children.
Three Little Stooges will feature 12 year-old actors playing child versions of the comic personas originated in the 1930s by Moe Howard, Curly Howard, and Larry Fine, though it’s unclear whether they will be playing the comedians themselves as children or character-variations like the Stooges typically did in their original short films and features. The film is being described as a “live-action family film” set to be directed by Harris Golberg, who also wrote the script. He’s previously credited with Master of Disguise and Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo.
A nationwide talent search is now underway to find three actors to fill the roles. The original Stooges were a vaudeville act teamed as sidekicks to “straight man” comedian Ted Healey, who struck out on their own under the gimmick of a comic trio who had no “normal” governing voice to guide their often chaotic actions. Originally comprising Howard Brothers Moe and Shemp plus Larry Fine, the group became most recognizable and attained their greatest fame during a period where Shemp was replaced by a third brother, Curly. Two more men would later embody the “Curly Joe” or “Joe” persona before the act finally retired for good in the ealry 1970s.
Comedies featuring children in lead roles had a big moment in the late 1990s, but attempts to revive the genre since have yielded few positive results. The Little Rascals (itself a remake of an older series like Three Stooges) was popular in 1994, but a revival/sequel in 2014 went straight to DVD to little fanfare. Remakes of classic comedy have also proven to be a non-starter: along with the aforementioned Farrelly Bros Stooges reboot, a reimagining of The Honeymooners with Cedric The Entertainer and Mike Epps died at the box-office in 2005. Steve Martin scored a hit with his remake of The Pink Panther, but a sequel three years later was dead on arrival.
It also remains unclear whether the younger audiences the film is presumably aimed at are readily aware of The Three Stooges themselves as a property. Though still introduced to new fans by generations of older ones, the original shorts have not had the kind of regular presence they once did on television, where what were originally slapstick comedies aimed at adults became a staple of kiddie programming for decades. Today, many of the shorts are considered either too violent or anachronistic for a youth audience, and appear in heavily-edited formats with the originals being sold to collectors on DVD.
Three Little Stooges will be produced by C3 and distributed by ARC Entertainment.