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With: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Eva Mendes, Cher, Wen Yann Shih, Pat Crawford Brown, Terence Bernie Hines, Tommy Songin, Ray 'Rocket' Valliere, Seymour Cassel, Griffin Dunne, Danny Murphy, Jackie Flynn
Written by: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Charles B. Wessler, Bennet Yellin
Directed by: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor and some language
Running Time: 118
Date: 12/10/2003

Stuck on You (2003)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In Fred Schepisi and Steve Martin's Roxanne, Martin plays a Cyrano-like lover with a protruding proboscis. In one scene, the distraught hero attempts to bury his head in his hands, finds his nose in the way, and adjusts accordingly. But if this character had been born with such a nose and had lived with it all his life, wouldn't he have developed a sixth sense for not hitting himself? That's where the Farrelly brothers, Bobby and Peter, succeed in their films, and especially in their new venture, Stuck on You.

The conjoined twins contained therein have been connected at the waist since birth. They share a liver, which could make surgical separation deadly. But in 32 years together, they have learned how to maneuver around one another and their clever solutions make up the film's biggest laughs. Cast hilariously against type, Matt Damon plays Bob Tenor, the more athletic of the brothers, but less successful with women. Attached to his left is his brother Walt (Greg Kinnear), whose minor success on the local stage has brought him unparalleled confidence. Walt also has the short end of the liver, and so he ages slightly faster than his brother.

Living in Martha's Vineyard, the duo are generally happy, flipping burgers in their own restaurant and playing goalie for the local hockey team, but Walt longs to try his luck in Hollywood. Bob is more reluctant to go, even though he has been nursing an Internet romance with a cute L.A. girl (Wen Yann Shih) for three years. Of course, he hasn't told her about the conjoined twin thing. That's where Stuck on You gets silly and stoops to what my wife calls "Laverne and Shirley" moments, or sitcom logic in which one character tries to hide information from another character for no other reason than to extend the plot.

With this film, the Farrellys seem to have lost the special balance of humor and sentiment that fueled some of their earlier films. In There's Something About Mary, Mary (Cameron Diaz) served as the picture's sweet soul, unaffected by the lunacy around her. Now the brothers physically separate the two, pouring sentiment on after the laughs have finished, and vice-versa. Viewers may find themselves astonished at the dead seriousness of the film's final half-hour. A half-hour, I might add, that drags the picture out to a much-too-long 120 minutes. The film contains a decidedly odd epilogue -- a speech by the developmentally disabled actor Ray "Rocket" Valliere -- that takes us out of the movie and smacks of ego on the part of the Farrellys. Why would they put this private moment between cast and crew out for the whole world to see -- other than to pat themselves on the back?

The huge number of small roles and cameos by big Hollywood stars (Cher, Meryl Streep, etc.) tends to support this theory. Now that the Farrellys are so firmly secured inside the business and have so many high-profile friends, perhaps they feel they can't get away with their juvenile rudeness anymore. Still, Stuck on You provides many solid chuckles, even if it never gets close to an all-out belly laugh. Nothing here is as brutally funny as the peeing scene in Me Myself and Irene, but scenes like Bob picking a fight with Walt, or the brothers' attempts at creating private moments for one another, pass the time amusingly. (Unfortunately, the trailer does give away more than half of the best jokes.)

This review originally appeared in The San Francisco Examiner.

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