Stuck On You

Stuck On You

***

Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Brothers Bob (Matt Damon) and Walt (Greg Kinnear) are conjoined. They could be separated, but with a 50 per cent chance that Walt would die, Bob refuses to let the operation go ahead. Regardless, they have resolved not to let their condition get in the way of leading fulfilled lives, being central figures in the Martha's Vineyard community where they operate the Quickee Burger diner.

Tensions begin to surface, however, when Walt decides that he would like to go beyond his amateur productions and have a crack at becoming a serious actor. In true Hollywood self-aggrandising fashion, this means going west to the City of Angels. Walt suggests that this will also give Bob a chance to meet his internet girlfriend May (Wen Yann Shi) in meatspace, though it transpires that Bob has inexplicably forgotten to tell her about his/their condition.

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On arrival, the brothers rent an apartment and, after initially suffering a series of disappointments with casting agents, who cannot take them seriously, they hook up with an old-timer, Mort (Seymour Cassel) through their model/actress/whatever neighbour June (Eva Mendes).

Mort soon gets them a gig, but it turns out to be as the freak in one of his porn productions. Fleeing the set, the brothers have a fortuitous encounter with Cher, playing herself, who is currently trying to get out of doing a lame TV show, Honey And The Beaze, and sees a prime opportunity to get it cancelled by imposing Walt - and Bob, of course - on her producers as her co-star. But Beaze's gimmick propels it to the top of the ratings and Walt becomes famous...

With the Farrelly Brothers not being the first name that one would associate with good taste from Kingpin, There's Something About Mary et al, it comes as a surprise how inoffensive and sensitive Stuck On You actually is.

Almost an exploitation movie that exploits the idea of exploitation, it downplays the cruder possibilities of the material and seeks instead to go for the moral high ground, as signified by the brothers's repeated response, "We're American, not Siamese," to anyone using that non-PC term.

No doubt, the Farrellys would like us to see this as maturation. And it probably is, in a sense. But it also comes across as something of a selling out, as if the filmmakers are now too much a part of the system to really rip into it and too wary of their industry position to court controversy.

In consequence, it's unclear whether we're supposed to be laughing at, or with, the protagonists - a fatal mistake that leaves you with a film which neither encourages you to laugh out loud at the sheer absurdity of it all, nor boldly confronts you with the reasons for your laughter.

Imagine a documentary expose of how Hollywood treated the likes of Freaks "half-man" Johnny Eck, or the acromegalic Rondo Hatton, or a piece in which we followed real conjoined twins seeking to be taken as actors rather than oddities and you have some ideas of what might have been. But then you wouldn't get big name actors onboard, nor ostensibly self-deprecating, yet ultimately self-congratulatory, cameo appearances from the likes of Cher.

Stuck On You emerges as a film to be enjoyed for small moments - the choreography and interplay as Bob and Walt prepare food at the Quickee Burger and defeat a dozen opponents with some martial arts moves in a nightclub, or Eva Mendes in a series of skimpy outfits - but these are not sufficient to make it stand out.

Reviewed on: 03 Jan 2004
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Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear are Siamese twins who go to Hollywood to become actors.
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Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly

Writer: Charles Wessler, Bennett Yellin

Starring: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Cher, Meryl Streep, Eva Mendes, Wen Yann Shi, Terence Bernie Hines, Griffin Dunne

Year: 2003

Runtime: 118 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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