Monday, March 28, 2011

Stuck on You Movie Review

This review was first written and published in December 2003 on a website that no longer exists. The unusual structure is a remnant of that site's requirements.

Synopsis: Bob and Walt Tenor (Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear) are conjoined twins who own a burger joint on Martha’s Vineyard. Walt moonlights as a local stage actor, performing in an annual one-man show for which he wins praise from all his friends.  But he has dreams of becoming a real Hollywood actor and persuades Bob to leave their life on the Vineyard.  Very shortly after arriving in Hollywood, Walt strikes it big in a starring role opposite Cher in a hit TV series.  Eventually Walt’s and Bob’s life becomes too complicated for them to stick together any longer.

Scoop: The Farrelly brothers have a great knack for skewering all groups of people in the most un-PC ways they can find.  For these guys, nothing seems to be off limits.  Their targets have included mentally disabled persons, schizophrenics, the Amish, the obese, people with various physical disabilities and now they’ve finally arrived at conjoined twins.

Their films always succeed where many other comedies often fail – they demonstrate an honest love for their characters, despite whatever flaws they may have.  Never do they show disdain for Bob and Walt.  Never are they the targets of mean-spiritedness on the part of the directors.  Never do they find themselves in humiliating situations except when created by their own hands.

As writers, the Farrellys get plenty of verbal and visual mileage out of their subjects in Stuck on You.  As directors they strike a great balance, always making us care about Bob and Walt.  They are never simply the butt of a joke.  The characters themselves are constantly aware of their situation and they maintain an ironic sense of humor about it.  But they also act as if there is nothing unusual about the fact that they are stuck together.  When Walt plays Truman Capote on stage in his one-man show, Bob’s role is to remain invisible.  Yes, he’s attached to Walt, but they move in such a way that Bob is always behind Walt, not doing anything.  Yet he sweats bullets because he’s more nervous about the performance than Walt who is actually, you know, performing.

It is obvious everyone has fun making a movie with these guys.  We recognize the same faces over and over in their films, as if the cast and crew are a close-knit family that continues to work together.  In the end credits, they shun the traditional rule that only actors with spoken lines get official screen credit, choosing to credit just about everyone who appears in the movie.  This is likely done because many of those people are, in fact, friends and family of the directors.  That almost certainly adds to the good feelings that envelop the film.

Part of the fun is watching two dramatic actors like Damon and Kinnear play against type in a Farrelly Brothers comedy, although Kinnear’s Walt is much like some of the other dashing, confident men he has played.  Damon’s Bob, on the other hand, is insecure – very unlike the characters he tends to play.  Typically we tend to think of performances against type as the best in an actor’s filmography and that is why Damon seems to outshine his costar.

Stuck on You is funny and you will most likely laugh several times, but it is never uproariously, wet-your-pants funny.  I must admit that the Farrellys seem to have peaked with the classic There’s Something About Mary and the underrated Me, Myself and Irene.  There’s something about the shock value of those films that may never be duplicated in the future.  Peter and Bobby Farrelly have always added an element of sentimentality to their stories, there is always something very warm-hearted in the end, but they push it a bit too far this time.  Their sharp edge for comedy is beginning to dull a bit and the film does run on too long, dragging a little in the last twenty minutes. It makes me wonder if they are softening their audience for a move into more serious territory which I think would be a terrible mistake for these gifted writer-directors to make.

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