STUCK ON YOU - DVD review

...in trying to be too politically correct, the Farrellys simply make things too saccharine.

John J. Puccio's picture
John J.
Puccio

The Farrelly Brothers, Bobby and Peter, have been making comedies out of physical disadvantages for years now. They gave us a couple of fellows cursed with stupidity in "Dumb and Dumber," a bowler with one hand in "Kingpin," a brother who was mentally challenged in "There's Something About Mary," a man with multiple personalities in "Me, Myself and Irene," a slob with a deadly virus in "Osmosis Jones," and a young woman grossly overweight in "Shallow Hal." In "Stuck on You," the brothers go a step further, using conjoined twins as their subject matter.

Some of the film works. Some of it doesn't.

Using two top-notch actors as the leads helps, yet in Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear you have people who are earnest and believable but not necessarily funny. Which pretty much sums up the picture. It's admirably sincere, but it has very few laughs. Part of the problem appears to stem from the Farrellys excessive reverence for their topic. They stoop over backwards to make us see humor not in the conjoined twins themselves but in the situations in which the twins find themselves. This approach worked to varying degrees of success in the past, so I suppose the brothers figured they could milk it again here. Unfortunately, in trying to be too politically correct, the Farrellys simply make things too saccharine.

Damon and Kinnear play Bob and Walt Tenor, two men in their early thirties who have been conjoined for life. The seven-year age difference between the actors is accounted for by Walt's saying he's aging faster than Bob. Anyway, they know no other way of living except together, and they manage perfectly well despite their severe inconvenience. Bob is the shier of the two, Walt the more aggressive, especially when it comes to women, a state that causes them no small discomfort. For instance, when Walt is making love to a woman, Bob has to stay off to the side behind a curtain; not an easy task when you're joined at the hip. Meanwhile, Bob moons over an L.A. girl he's met on the Internet.

Bob and Walt do everything together: They own a small restaurant in Martha's Vineyard, MA, and operate it efficiently, flipping burgers together. They play hockey together, covering twice as much ground as an ordinary goalie; they play tennis together; they golf together; they box together; they even pitch baseball together. Most of the humor early on in the film derives from the fact that nobody in town seems to notice their condition. That's a commendable and inspirational attitude, but it's hardly conducive for extended comedy.

The brothers would probably be together forever if it weren't for Walt's longing to be a professional actor. So, the real story begins when the boys pack up and head for Hollywood, to the strains of "Moon River" from "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Walt wants to be an actor, and Bob is hoping to see May (Wen Yann Shih), the girl of his Internet dreams.

Walt's first audition is for the part of Robin Hood. It does not go successfully, what with Bob at his side. In fact, nothing goes successfully--surprise--not even when they hire a sleazy old agent, Morty O'Reilly (Seymour Cassell), who promises Walt the world for a 25% cut of everything he makes.

From a fairly tight beginning, the story's slight plot quickly veers all over the place. In Hollywood, we get one thread concerning Walt's landing a job with Cher, who hires him to costar in a TV show she wants to get out of by making it the worst thing possible. Naturally, the show is a huge success in the manner of the Hitler musical in Mel Brooks's "The Producers." Another thread concerns Bob's attempts to romance May without letting her know he's a conjoined twin. Walt just "happens" always to be around. A third and final thread gets relatively serious and sentimental and just rambles on and on. The movie closes with a gratuitous musical number that appears to have been thrown in as an afterthought.

For a PG-13 rated film, there's a surprising amount of off-color sexual humor to be found. For example (and if you're not at least thirteen, skip this line), doing a crossword puzzle, one brother asks the other, "What's a four-letter word for 'snatch'?" "Grab," answers the other. "Opps," says the first and erases his original entry. That kind of innuendo permeates the picture, some of it cute or clever, much of it silly or dull.

About the only parts of "Stuck on You" that work are the cameos. Not only is Cher very good and likewise Eva Mendes as a friend of Walt, but also bits with Jay Leno, Griffin Dunne, Luke Wilson, Meryl Steep, and a slew of others. Still, a few short bits do not a good, complete film make, and in the long run what we get is a rather businesslike comedy with a single gimmick to its credit. That gimmick cannot be expected to last long. And it doesn't.

Video:
The screen size certainly can't be faulted. It's a wide 2.13:1 anamorphic widescreen, that takes in a good deal of territory. But the rest of the video varies from very good to very ordinary. Colors, for instance, are mostly natural, with the exception of faces, which come off as a bit too pink at times and a bit too purplish at other times. Definition is generally good, but a light grain lends a small degree of roughness to the image's appearance. And there is a slightly dull sheen to the picture as well, like a light veil that tends to dampen the overall luster of the screen. Of course, one doesn't usually watch a comedy for its visual beauty, anyway, so for the most part these minor deficiencies can be overlooked.

Audio:
The sound is reproduced via Dolby Digital 5.1, and it, too, varies from good to ordinary. The general impression one gets is that of clean, clear sonics, with agreeable front-channel separation and singing highs. But the balance is somehow off, without enough of a compensating low end to offset the treble, leaving one with the feeling that the sound is too bright. What's more, the rear channels are used almost exclusively for musical ambience and few environmental sounds, and at that not very much. So, while the sounds does what it needs to do, it does little else.

Extras:
For a single disc, the DVD contains a surprising array of extras. The first item is the compulsory audio commentary with the directors, Bobby and Peter Farrelly. The second is a set of eight deleted and extended scenes. The third is a seven-minute blooper reel. The fourth, fifth, and sixth items are featurettes: "It's Funny: The Farrelly Formula," sixteen minutes of the brothers in retrospect; "Stuck Together: Bringing Stuck on You to the Screen," twelve minutes of interviews and such; and "Making It Stick: Makeup Effects of Stuck on You," nine minutes on how the makeup artists joined the stars together for their part. Lastly, there are twenty scene selections; an "Inside Look" at upcoming attractions from Fox; theatrical trailers for this and other Fox DVDs; English, French, and Spanish spoken languages; and English and Spanish subtitles.

Parting Shots:
I wish I could have drummed up more enthusiasm for "Stuck on You." Unlike the Farrelly brothers' two previous films, "Osmosis Jones" and "Shallow Hal," which I thoroughly disliked, "Stuck on You" has a genuinely sweet premise and two genuinely sweet lead characters. But all this sweetness ultimately rots the core of the movie, leaving us with an empty cavity where the laughs ought to have been. I wasn't offended by anything in the film; maybe I should have been, and I would have had a better time with it. I was merely disappointed.

Ratings

Video
7
Audio
7
Extras
6
Film Value
5