Stuck on You (2003) ***
Directed & written by Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly. Photography, Dan Mindel, Editing, Christopher Greenburg. Production design, Sidney J. Bartholomew. Produced by Bradley Thomas, Charles Wessler, Bobby and Peter Farrelly; A 20th Century Fox release. Cast: Matt Damon (Bob), Greg Kinnear (Walt), Eva Mendes (April), Wen Yann Shih (May Fong), Pat Crawford Brown (Mimmy), Ray "Rocket" Valliere (Rocket), Seymour Cassel (Morty O'Reilly), Cher (Cher), Meryl Streep (as herself -uncredited) et al. 100 minutes. PG-13.
The Farrelly Bros specialize in bizarre comedies. One may like or dislike them as a whole, like or dislike specific titles, or reserve judgment. The fact is that all their works require suspension of disbelief, and that's something that ranges from film gems to movie duds.
For this critic, the latest Farrelly has no special problems except for a peripheral one: I wonder what the title will be in many countries. "Stuck on You" is an unavoidable pun, but literally translated means nothing in a host of languages.
Tenor brothers Bob (Damon) and Walt (Kinnear) run a hamburger joint in Martha's Vineyeard. Their cooking of fast food must hold the world's record for speed. The two men are full of humor. And energy: they are goalies in ice hockey and football, participate in other local activities. They would be notable in many ways.
Chief among them is -- believe it or not!--that they are twins conjoined at the hip. Not "Siamese Twins" though, a term they dislike. Their age is 32. The brothers add a new meaning to "inseparable." They get along so famously the slogan "All for one, one for all!" of the Three Musketeers' (who were, in fact, four) takes on a new meaning.
From the very start, the movie requires us to accept a great number of striking oddities. Such as lady-killer Walt having sex with a new conquest-- behind a curtain, while Bob stretches out with his laptop on the other side. Or when Walter, the community's theater star, performs before an appreciative audience a take-off on Truman Capote while Bob, in relative darkness, tries to be invisible. There's moreŠ
Now, Kinnear is visibly 7 years older than Damon. The film's explanation of the discrepancy in ageing comes the twins' sharing a single kidney which is mostly located within Bob.
There comes a time when ambitious Walt decides to try his luck in Hollywood before he gets even older-looking. He talks the reluctant Bob into going West. Once there, matters do get forced, yet we, the audience, still accept them. That's because Los Angeles is Weirdoland and the brothers, in their unique way, fit in with its oddball people, institutions and situations. The movie treats all this with amusing-to-comic tongue-in-cheekness, while by and large it skips nastiness.
Among the local characters the brothers meet is May Fong, with whom Bob carries on an e-mail flirtation for years. As she is unaware of his "twin-ness" and Bob does not reveal it, hilarious scenes are created. Then, at the motel, there's a friendly lodger bimbo who makes friends with the twins. Her L.A. mindset and vocabulary are gently-funnily satirized. And so on.
At some point the brothers meet Cher (as Cher) who hires Walt so that he could be (unbeknownst to him) a factor in her breaking her contract for a TV program she despises. Don't ask. May have to do with something which he mistakenly thinks is named "Pavlov's Dog" but is actually "Pavlov's Dong." Enough said.
As "Stuck" unfurls, there is an avalanche of situations that could make some viewers impatient or induce tediousness. Certainly the sights and sounds defy logic and rational acceptability, but then so do the films of Mel Brooks whose "The Producers" has recently been again a mega-hit on Broadway; "unreal" too were the movies of Ernst Lubitsch; etc. etc.
What is striking in this picture besides its inventiveness and the excellent special effects of conjointness, is that behind the near-slapstickness there's warm sympathy for people with physical problems, and this is combined with an obvious paean to brotherly love.
Performances are tops, with Kinnear's shenanigans always in the forefront and with Damon's reactions almost touchingly underplayed.
There is no point in contrasting apples and oranges, the great, versatile and established Coen Brothers and the Farrelly Brothers. The latter are not everybody's cup of tea, but "Stuck" is certainly an original and most watchable tour-de-force.