When I was a little kid I loved everything about the Three Stooges, including the series of feature films (starting with Have Rocket, Will Travel) featuring the ersatz Curly, Joe DeRita. As a bigger kid, while my Stoogemania is undiminished, I find DeRita extremely painful to watch. Curly Howard's humor was demented, simple-minded and ferocious all at the same time. Joe DeRita's is simply meek. And since much of the Stooge dynamic still revolves around his character, the group is a pale shadow of what it once was.
On the plus side, I suppose I should be thankful they were still making films at all. And The Outlaws Is Coming isn't all bad, For instance, what other western film gives you Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok, Bat Masterson, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Belle Starr, Johnny Ringo, Cole Younger, Rob Dalton and Annie Oakley, all at the same time? It would have been better, of course, if even one of them had been portrayed by a memorable actor, but their inclusion still falls into the plus column.
For purposes of the story, everyone in that group except Annie is considered an outlaw. It's only through the intervention of the Stooges that they all profess to see the light and pledge to uphold law and order, making them eligible for future TV series. The only one with serious screen time is Annie. Aside from being the female romantic lead, she gets the John Wayne role from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, secretly doing the shooting for hapless dude Adam West.
The film makes some odd attempts at topical humor, with a couple of Beatles jokes and references to 1960s TV commercials. And toward the end, what really saves the day is the highlight of many a classic Stooges film, a pie fight. Though I cringed every time Joe DeRita opened his mouth, I just couldn't stop watching.
The Overlooked Films Round-up is at Sweet Freedom.