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Stuck on You (2003)

Reviewed By Erik Childress
Posted 12/12/03 17:05:02

"We Are Siamese, If You Please."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

If I told you that the Farrelly Brothersí next movie was about a man who fakes a handicap to participate in the Special Olympics, it probably wouldnít shock you. After all, the combination of finding the humor in bad taste and their acknowledged work with the handicapped have made their films what they are today: some of the funniest comedies ever made. Somewhere along the way the brothers must have recognized that shock value will decrease over time and while that may limit the ďanything for a laughĒ mantra, it doesnít keep them from freshening the boundaries now and again.

The premise of their latest is inescapable. [Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear play Bob and Walt, conjoined twins who are looked at beyond their handicap in Marthaís Vineyard where they grew up. So adapted to their condition, the brothers speak to each other as if they didnít share a liver and the community has allowed them to live and compete as one. Nowhere else would the rules of society tolerate a double-goalie on the hockey rink.

Their bond has made them agree to never get in the way of each otherís dreams and Waltís is to become an actor. His local performances always bring the house down despite Bobís Ted Striker-like bouts with stage fright. So itís off to Hollywood with them, where freakshows get off the bus every day in pursuit of success. Immediacy doesnít come in the land of intolerance until they meet Cher (yes, Cher) who is looking for a way out of her TV contract on a dopey private eye show. With final co-star approval, she plans to have the network singing ďwe are Siamese, if you please

Many of the filmís best moments take place on the set where the crew must create drastic ways to conceal Bobís appearance in the same frame as Walt. The addition of a hotel manager/wannabe screenwriter who has been cleverly hiding his blank pages for years turns the show into a ridiculous satire that threatens to spoil its secret gimmick. In the middle of Waltís success is Morty OíReilly (Seymour Cassel, effortlessly stealing the movie), a sleazebag agent so stuck in his own '70s timewarp that the Brady Bunch would tell him to get into the now. Casselís scenes just about trump everything else on the laugh meter.

Itís disappointing that the Farrellys didnít go all out with their Hollywood satire the way they did with underdog sports movies (Kingpin) and romantic comedies (Thereís Something About Mary). Their knack for telling a complete story within their laugh-a-second was an admirable touch that few comedy writers can pull off. Critics of Shallow Hal, despite growing a conscious that didnít allow fat jokes, felt they went too far with their sweetness at expense of the comedy.

Stuck On You does sidetrack itself too often with Bobís romantic interest in a girl (Wen Yann Shih) whom he met on the internet, one unaware of his brotherly attachment. But that connection is crucial beyond the mere novelty of the concept and the pairing of Damon and Kinnear works brilliantly. Actors are always looking for the next great challenge of their career, and can you honestly remember the last time you saw two actors joined at the hip that wasnít Queer As Folk?

Damon plays the low-key straight man in the relationship and Kinnear must literally match him step-by-step as the more confident half. He then gets to shine twice as much with Waltís stagework, even the curiously unfunny musical production that leaves the audience on only a literal high note. However, its existence is justified with a final moment that brings their bond into perspective, once again revealing the Farrellys' true intention for the storyís existence beyond the laughs.

Stuck On You had the potential to be a true classic, but is still stocked with enough big laughs to earn a place on your calendar. The Farrellys will probably never admit to the film metaphoring their own brotherly tie and adventures in Hollywood, instead trying to make a joke if you ever brought it up to them. And we would laugh and wait for the next gag as we watched the two of them put their brains together to devise it. Early in their career, audiences may have only been paying attention to the laughs and not recognizing the inherent sweetness that exemplified those hearty outbursts. We cared for the Dumb & Dumber friends, Woody Harrelsonís disgraced bowler and Ben Stillerís lovelorn protagonist. Now we care for the Tenor Brothers. And laugh our heads off along the way. Eh, gooey sweet or gross-out hysterical, as long as the Farrellys share a brain, I canít wait for their next comedy.

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