Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear play siamese twins, one of whom wants to be a movie star, in the latest comedy from the Farrelly brothers, creators of Dumb And Dumber and There’s Something About Mary. Review by Kevin O’Reilly.
Stuck On You takes a terrible concept and comes very close to making a good movie out of it thanks to excellent casting and some funny scenes. The concept is that its two heroes are siamese twins. Does that sound like a recipe for a sparkling comedy to anyone? It did to the Farrelly brothers, Bobby and Peter, who used it as a starting point for a good-natured farce based on their own experiences as Hollywood. The final result is generally amusing and makes for a pleasant enough two hours but it’s a movie that’s better suited to a video rental than a trip to the cinema. It’s definitely the Farrellys’ weakest film to date.
The siamese twins in question, or conjoined twins as they prefer to be known, are Bob and Walt Tenor, played by Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear respectively. They’ve been joined at the hip since birth and have decided against separation since they share Bob’s liver and the risk to Walt would be too great. The brothers live in a small town on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, where they’ve been accepted by the community and run a popular burger bar. Bob, the shy one, is happy there but Walt, an unlikely ladies’ man, has greater ambitions. Having done some amateur theatre and been bitten by the acting bug, he wants to try his luck in Hollywood. Bob agrees to indulge his brother and soon they’re sharing a cheap apartment in L.A. while Walt tries to find an agent and get auditions. His big break comes from a chance meeting with Cher (playing herself), who casts him as her co-star in a TV detective show. What Walt doesn’t know is that Cher wants to get out of her TV contract and thinks Walt (and Bob)’s presence will cause the show to flop. As Walt’s career takes off, Bob starts a tentative romance with May (Wen Yann Shih), a woman he met on the internet. The one major obstacle in their relationship is that she doesn’t know about Bob and Walt’s condition and Bob wants to keep it that way.
What’s best about Stuck On You is its amusing take on the life of a struggling actor in Hollywood. The Farrellys themselves were struggling writers for years before they hit it big with Dumb And Dumber. They know this world and the people who inhabit it and they make good use of real-life celebrities the way Robert Altman did in The Player. There’s a great cameo from Meryl Streep and an excellent supporting turn by Cher, who allows the Farrellys to not only send her up royally but cast her as the villain! The actresses playing the brothers’ love interests aren’t as lucky – Wen Yann Shih is just a generic girlfriend and I assume Eva Mendes’ part must be largely on the cutting room floor as she doesn’t appear to have any purpose in the finished film. As the twins themselves, Matt Damon is as likeable as ever, playing straight man to Greg Kinnear’s starry-eyed wannabe. Kinnear, an ex-talk show host, has proved himself a gifted and versatile actor (Autofocus, As Good As It Gets, Mystery Men) and his work here is as good as anything he’s done.
Together Kinnear and Damon almost make the film work. Almost. What they can’t overcome is the central premise of conjoined twins, which is so bizarre and creepy that I could never really accept it, let alone care about the problems of two people with such a condition. I suspect real adult conjoined twins would be under constant medical supervision or at least have a much less normal life than Bob and Walt. OK, I know this is a comedy, not The Elephant Man, but the Farrellys want us to like their heroes and be moved on their behalf and their situation is so far-fetched, that’s impossible. Even as a source of humour, conjoined twins are hardly a comic goldmine and Stuck On You is far too dependent on silly gags about their birth defect, just like Shallow Hal had too many fat jokes. As a screenwriter, having a “funny” hook to hang your plot on can make you lazy. There’s Something About Mary is still the Farrellys’ best film and it’s the one with the straightest storyline – it’s just about a regular guy who’s still in love with his high school girlfriend. All its great comic scenes are drawn from everyday life – “What if you were at the girl of your dreams’ house and you got your balls caught in your zip?”, “What if her dog hated you?” I have a feeling Stuck On You might have been much more successful if they’d dumped the siamese twins plot, rewritten the two leads as ordinary brothers and put more thought into coming up with funny things that might have happened to them in Hollywood. As it is, Stuck On You comes very close to being good but it keeps getting in its own way.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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