Stuck on You

Robin Clifford 
Stuck on You
  Laura Clifford 

Conjoined at the hip twin brothers Bob (Matt Damon) and Walt (Greg Kinnear) Tenor run the popular Quickie Burger grille on Martha’s Vineyard, where you can eat for free if it takes longer than three minutes to serve your order. Bob is perfectly happy to toss burgers but Walt aspires to be an actor - he wows the locals at the community theater, wants a shot at stardom and convinces Bob to go with him to Hollywood. Will Walt make it in Tinsel town? Can Bob handle the warm weather? Find out in the Farrelly brothers “Stuck On You.”

Surprise! Peter and Bobby Farrelly have succeeded in creating a funny, warm-hearted film about brotherly love. The pair, in the past, have catered to lowbrow tastes in their “Shallow Hall,” “Me, Myself & Irene” and “Dumb and Dumber” with some success. “Stuck On You” also has some lowbrow humor but, because of the terrific chemistry between Damon and Kinnear, you also get a pair of 3D characters in Bob and Walt.

The physically adept performances by Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear, as they must coexist in the same space all of the time, are a pleasure to watch. Whether they are making hamburgers on their two-man production line, playing goalie in a hockey game or pitching a baseball on the mound, the actors make it look real. They bicker like real brothers but watch each other’s back when the chips are down, too.

When Walt receives a standing ovation from the townsfolk for his one man (well, sort of) show, “Tru,” as Truman Capote, he knows he is bit by the acting bug and begs Bob to go with him (not much in the way of choice, here) to LA for his shot at fame. His brother reluctantly agrees and the joined pair head for sunny California. They rent an efficiency apartment at the Rising Star Motel and meet their sexy neighbor April (Eva Mendes) who puts Walt in touched with her grumpy old agent Morty O’Reilly (Seymour Cassel). The first job he lands for his client turns out to be a porno film.

As luck would have it, Walt (and Bob) meet superstar Cher who is desperately trying to get out of a lame TV series contract. Since she has casting approval for the show, she has the bright idea to insist on Walt as her costar on “Honey and the Beaz.” The network honchos know she is trying to bilk them so they go along with her choice. Things are rocky at first but the obvious technical problems are solved and the show is a surprise hit. But, Bob is getting homesick and he, finally, agrees to Walt’s insistence that they be separated, even if Walt only has a 50-50 chance to survive. They have the operation and go their now-unconnected ways, with Walt pursuing his dream and Bob going home with his pen pal girlfriend May (Wen Yann Shih). But, they soon learn there is more than just the nine inches of flesh that bonded them together.

I was totally surprised at how down right entertaining “Stuck On You” turned out to be. I am not really a fan of the usual sophomoric humor dished out by the Farrelly boys so my expectations were pretty low going in. Almost immediately, Bob and Walt prove to be fully developed characters as they meet the challenges of their high turnover restaurant. We come to find out, through flashback, that the Tenor twins have an accomplished athletic past and are local legends. When Walt makes his future plans known, the entire town is behind him – and you believe it.

Besides the wonderful performances by Damon and Kinnear, both physically and emotionally, there is a host of game players providing support. Seymour Cassel, as the grizzled, out of touch Morty is a riot every minute he is on the screen, whether he is wearing a horrendous toupee at a business meet or chasing after his clients on his motorized wheelchair. Cher does a good turn as the demanding superstar fallen on hard times. Meryl Streep also appears as herself and, as always, proves to be a classy lady. Eva Mendes is adorably perky as the boys’ newfound friend April.

Of the techs the makeup F/X are the most laudable. The fleshy connection between Bob and Walt, designed by Tony Gardner, looks believable, as it should when taking 12 hours to apply. Dan Mindel’s camera captures the manic life of the conjoined brothers.

The Farrelly brothers’ script plays up the brotherly relationship surprisingly well. There is a lot of real sentiment delivered and, with Damon and Kinnear, they make it into something a big cut above their usual gross out slapstick. There are the expected goofy elements, like when Walt tells Bob that he can’t run away (he can’t, though he tries) or when Bob tells a phone caller that “Walt isn’t here.”

There are more laughs than not and a whole lot of heart. I give “Stuck On You” a B.

Writer/director team Bobby and Peter Farrelly ("Shallow Hal"), perhaps reflecting on their own brotherly togetherness, continue to champion the handicapped with their uplifting tale of conjoined twins Walt (Greg Kinnear, "Auto Focus") and Bob Tenor (Matt Damon, "Gerry") in "Stuck on You."

The Farrelly brothers dispense with their usual brand of offensive, gross-out humor and deliver their best film since the offensively gross, hilarious "Kingpin."  This sweetly humorous ode to brotherly love may not deliver as many belly laughs as the usual Farrelly film, but Damon and Kinnear's brilliant pairing and subtle, delayed-reaction humor make it their most satisfying effort to date.

We're immediately clued in to the brothers' affliction when they awaken and begin their bare-chested exercise routine connected from armpit to hip (Tony Gardner, who was responsible for Paltrow's two hundred extra pounds in "Shallow Hal," designed their prosthetic harness). The duo are school sports stars and a successful short order cook team in their Martha's Vineyard restaurant, Quickie Burger, where your order is free if it's not delivered in three minutes.  The brothers, however, couldn't be more different (shades of Matt and Ben).  Walt is a ladies' man who enjoys sex on a regular basis while Bob is the shy, quiet type who has spent the past three years in a long distance email relationship with May, a Los Angelino he has never met. Every year Walt stages a play at the local theater, but just the thought of getting onstage sends Bob into panic attacks.  Bob has the strength of his convictions, though, refusing a separation operation which he would survive but leave the liverless Walt with only a 50/50 chance.

After a successful performance of 'Tru,' Walt decides he wants to pursue the acting bug.  Bob swallows his anxieties and the two fly to Hollywood, get an efficiency at the Rising Star apartments and meet an agent, Morty O'Reilly (Seymour Cassel, "Passionada"), through Walt's new attraction April (Eva Mendes, "Out of Time").  A series of humorous misadventures later and Walt strikes it big, costarring with Cher in the 'Moonlighting-esque' television series 'Honey and the Beaze,' but when his secret comes out in the tabloids and Bob's condition is revealed to May (newcomer Wen  Yann Shih), the brothers must seriously consider separation.

While it lacks the outrageous hair gel joke of their overrated "Something About Mary," the Farrellys' latest lingers longer with its sweeter sensibilities.  The humor here is a mixture of the outrageous gag (good sport Cher gets a big laugh poking fun at her penchant for younger men with support from 'Malcolm in the Middle's' Frankie Muniz) and a clever use of the ordinary (when a rain-slickered Bob takes a phone call standing outside the shower, bathing Walt's standard rejoinder of 'I'm not here!' delivers on the second beat).  The film's most offensive line?...when crossword bug Walt asks Bob for a four letter word for snatch (it's 'grab!').  The Farrellys achieve just the right tone, deriving humor from the boys' condition while never poking fun at it.  This is realized in a very funny scene where Walt confronts Meryl Streep in a restaurant, who only recognizes the boys after several minutes of conversation.

Damon and Kinnear deserve heaps of credit for the physical choreography required for this role. Their movements are smooth as silk when conjoined, awkward and unbalanced when not.  Watch for a beautiful bit of the duo in the background, practicing a 'dip' for bluescreen.  The always welcome Seymour Cassel adds comedic grace notes as the sleazy agent who gets around outside his retirement home in a motorized cart.  Cher and Meryl embrace the definition of a good sport, adding comic elements of their own into the mix.  Eva Mendes abandons her tough cop roles to dive into a classic bimbo character and redeem it.

"Stuck on You" is inspired is its lovable lunacy - where else can you see Meryl Streep dancing in the musical version of "Bonnie and Clyde?"


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