I've done my best so far on this blog to make sure that my opinion on remakes is clear: in general, I don't like them. They turn out well sometimes, but for the most part, remakes these days are cheap cash-ins on the original. The people who make these movies never seem to realize that a good remake is almost always the result of some combination of luck, talent, and most importantly, reverence for the source material.
This brings me to the news which led me to bring all of this up in the first place: according to ComingSoon.net, the Farrelly Brothers are remaking The Three Stooges. The movie has been fast-tracked for release in 2009, and will be an origin story for Larry, Curly, and Moe, set in the modern day.
Now, there are certain things that I've always considered "untouchable" when it comes to being remade. Star Wars, The Godfather, and Casablanca come to mind as some of the first and foremost examples, but another one for me has always been The Three Stooges. For all of the examples that I mentioned, though, there is just something about the specific way in which these stories were originally told that, in my mind, has always made them unique and unreplicable. The form, the style, and the historical moment they were made in are absolutely integral to our understanding of their stories and subject matter.
But to discuss The Three Stooges more specifically, I think it would be a real disservice to the memories of the original actors and filmmakers to bring the Stooges back. What's worse is that most young and even middle-aged people who watch movies these days have never seen The Three Stooges, and this new movie will be their first (and possibly only) exposure to them.
Furthermore, The Three Stooges was never based in some sort of continuity, nor should it be. We need an "origin" story for the Stooges as much as we need a movie about Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck meeting for the first time. There's just no point, especially when you consider the fact that Larry, Curly, and Moe were never real characters – they were caricatures. They were larger-than-life goofballs who poked, slapped, and kicked one another to slapstick effect, often while parodying real-life events. Many of their WWII-era short films, for example, were brilliant parodies of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Turning Larry, Curly, and Moe into "real" people by having them meet one another for the first time changes what they are about and takes away everything that made them fun in the first place.
So now I'll open it up to you. Is this news as appalling to you as it is to me, or am I just overreacting? (And if you're interested in watching The Three Stooges but have never seen them before, I would recommend the 1940 short "You Nazty Spy" as a good starting point. You can watch it here.)