Stuck on You
review by Dan Lybarger, 12 December 2003 

Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farrelly, the minds (if you could call them that) behind Kingpin and There's Something About Mary, have generated dozens of guilt-inducing laughs by demonstrating that there really are new worlds to conquer with bodily function humor. Nonetheless, what sometimes sets these two apart from their gross out peers is that their movies can involve the brain and touch the heart during breaks between embarrassing discharges.

The sibling filmmakers have been gradually trying to emphasize these two organs in their more recent films like Shallow Hal, and make further steps with their long-awaited dream project Stuck on You. The idea of building a comedy about conjoined twins sounds potentially derisive, but the Farrelly Brothers wisely counterbalance their incorrigible need to jolt with a genuine affection for their protagonists.

True, they manage to milk a few laughs merely by inseparably pairing Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear. The two actors amusingly bear no family resemblance to speak of (other than the fact that they're both Caucasian), and somehow they're rather convincing as life mates. Maybe it's because the only thing the two characters seem to share is a liver and each other's personal space.

The two conjoined New Englanders function seamlessly at work (as short order cooks whose output exceeds the entire McDonald's chain) and play (just try to get a hockey puck past these guys). Walt Tenor (Kinnear) is the more outgoing of the pair and has an easy way with women, even with the introverted Bob lying on one side of the bed. Bob, instead, corresponds with a friendly Chinese immigrant named May (Wen Yann Shih) through the Web, without telling her that he and Walt are more than close.

While their life in Martha's Vineyard is happy, Walt wants to quit flipping burgers and act in something other than Community Theater. The two head to LA, where Bob finally gets to meet May (amusingly able to hide his seemingly obvious connection to his brother), while Walt, through a bizarre Producers-esque quirk lands on a popular TV show with Cher, creatively playing a character who isn't a conjoined twin.

To their credit the Farrellys manage to milk a lot more from their single-joke setup than a few cheap guffaws. Kinnear and Damon manage to do several nifty coordinated tricks (they do more than merely turn hamburger patties). Most of these are done in long, wide takes. This means the two probably had to work a long time to get the stunts right because these sequences are harder to pull off if the camera doesn't pull away before the payoff.

The twins might be painted with a stereotypical brush, but thankfully so are all the other characters in film. John Casavettes veteran Seymour Cassel is a riot as a half senile agent who can't quite get the hang of representing a client in the Internet age. He advises Walt to keep his secret in the closet (the same advice he gave to Rock Hudson). More importantly, though, the filmmakers seem to have a genuine affection for their protagonists, and at times, Stuck on You becomes almost heartbreaking whenever fate is cruel to the Tenor brothers. Damon and Kinnear wisely play the roles straight so that the world, not the conjoined twins, seems crazy.

In fact, the entertainment industry gets ridiculed far more than Bob and Walt. Cher deserves special credit for lampooning her diva image and for not letting pride get in the way of some amusingly biting satire. Had she tried to make herself seem less self-absorbed or caustic, her scenes wouldn't work. It should be noted that she's not the only major actress who gets to make a funny cameo.

The Farrelly Brothers are also demonstrating a surprisingly subtlety that nicely counterbalances their outrageousness. One of the biggest laughs comes when Bob off-handedly manages to correctly pronounce May's hometown in the old country.

At times, one begins to miss some of the Farrellys' earlier gross out sequences, and the dénouement seems a bit pokey. Fortunately, the two atone for these deficiencies with a closing musical number that's wonderfully silly. Let's just say that some films really don't lend themselves to show tunes.

It might have been interesting to see how the film would have worked out if the Farrellys had been able to pair up Jim Carrey and Woody Allen as they had originally planned. The film may be better because it doesn't fit their original design. Similarly, some audiences might yearn for the bodily function gags of the previous Farrelly movies (Stuck on You has a PG-13 rating), but others may appreciate the fact that these guys can elicit laughs from something other than what could euphemistically be called hair gel.

Directed by:
Mathieu Kassovitz

Hale Berry
Robert Downey Jr.
Charles Dutton
John Carroll Lynch
Penélope Cruz
Dorian Harewood

Written by:
 Sebastian Gutierrez

R - Restricted.
Under 17 requires
parent or adult






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