Friday, January 02, 2004

REVIEW: Stuck On You

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 1 January 2004 at AMC Fenway #6 (first-run)

It's hard to criticize the Farrelly brothers when they do a comedy like Stuck On You or Shallow Hal, because their hearts are so clearly in the right place. They've got a talent for seeing people Hollywood otherwise avoids - the mentally handicapped, the physically disabled, or, here, conjoined twins - as individuals, and allowing the audience to laugh at their adventures because, amid all the stupidity of the world around them, these characters prove themselves worthy of your respect. They're not just hack artists making fun of those less fortunate than themselves, and they're not patronizing hero-worshippers, either. They're just capable of looking at characters like Bob and Walt Tenner and seeing them as more than walking punchlines.

But it's kind of a backhanded compliment here. Yeah, Bob (Matt Damon) and Walt (Greg Kinnear) are likable, but they're dropped into a thoroughly bland "trying to become a TV/movie star" situation. There's absolutely no bite to any of the Hollywood jokes, from the scheming star (and that Cher is playing herself isn't funny enough) to the oh-so-predictable "Tonight Show With Jay Leno" sequence. Outside of the two main characters, it's like the Farrellys aren't even trying.

I will give them a pass on probably one of the few actual funny "Bill Buckner" jokes this Red Sox fan has had to suffer through. I kind of have to wonder, though, whether it will play as well outside of New England (or would without the sort of meta-joke that Matt Damon is a noted Bostonian). And the Frankie Muniz appearance; that was funny.

But I was turned off by the latter third or so of the movie, where (SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THE REVIEW) the boys are on their own. It's really kind of depressing, when you think about it - they set up the operation to seperate them as potentially dangerous, but justify it emotionally because the two have their own seperate dreams. But the two are lost without each other, and don't grow to handle it. It's like they did something terribly risky for nothing.

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