More noise than signal

Stuck On You

This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com

After tackling obesity in their own daft fashion in Shallow Hal you had to wonder what group would be next to overreact against some imagined or real offence. It turns out to be conjoined twins. Saying that this is a Farrelly brothers film is probably about all the detail you need, but for my money it’s one of their best and most consistently amusing outings yet seen.

The plot, as is usual in the Farrellys’ output turns out to be largely superfluous. Walt (Greg Kinnear) is an accomplished actor and wants to head of to Hollywood to ply his trade on a grander scale than the small town hall of Martha’s Garden. While Bob (Matt Damon) is happy enough with life, being joined at the hip with Greg he has little choice but to go as well. Moving into an apartment next door to April (Eva Mendes), a lass with an I.Q. less than her bust size (not much of an insult, mind…) Walt tries to get work through the geriatric agent Morty O’Reilly (Seymour Cassel). While this lands him with a dodgy adult feature quickly, it’s a chance meeting with the evil genius Cher (herself) that proves to be Walt’s big break.

Looking to make an unwanted yet contractually obligated show tank, she reckons her conjoined costars will be the death of it. Meanwhile, Walt’s trying to set up a meeting between Bob and his long-time internet pen friend May (Wen Yann Shih). A potential complication come from the fact that Bob hasn’t told May he’s so attached to his brother, which might prove a tad surprising.

That this is farcical is no source of complaint or criticism. Just as Wilde’s plays for all their wit exhibited elements of cringe worthy coincidence and ridiculous misunderstanding, the Farrelly brothers produce works that for all their crass and obvious points still produce some wickedly clever visual gags and some tremendous off the cuff moments usually from the supporting cast. There are many snobs and blinkered critics who will refuse to see any value in any of their output which fills me with ire. You only have to sit this next to the laughless joke vacuum of American Pie: The Wedding to see that it’s not possible to sum up their appeal by shouting “big cocks!” and running away. There is wit and talent in their work, and to sum them up as mere bad taste merchants does them a grand disservice

Not, that is to say, that this isn’t stupid in a great many places. Much of the humour comes from the conjoined pair tackling everyday tasks in ways that weren’t really designed with being connected at the hip in mind. It takes a fertile imagination to come up with enough of these in the first place and there’s also an element of skill in spreading them out over the course of the movie so that they don’t become tiring. Even their most ardent hater will have to grudgingly admit that they are maturing over the course of their careers, now understanding that the ‘gross out’ elements may have been useful to generate a name for themselves they weren’t inherently funny. You’ll be hard pushed to find a single base or offensive image in the entire movie, relying instead on some decent dialogue helped by great performances.

Matt Damon is probably still best remembered for his partnership with Ben Affleck in his earlier films although it’s become apparent since that all the talent in that pairing was Damon’s. While Matt has given consistently good performances in works such as The Bourne Identity and Ocean’s Eleven, the only thing of note the far, far higher profile Affleck has approached respectability in is The Sum Of All Fears. While I’m sure that Lopez woman is kicking herself, it’s to our great advantage as Damon puts in a surprisingly heartfelt performance that’s low on gurning and high on acting like a human being rather than a caricature of a human.

Exactly the same can be said of the more flamboyant yet never to the point of annoyance turn from Greg Kinnear. Certainly the least high profile member of the main cast, he nonetheless delivers every line adroitly. While the initial roles may have been written with Woody Allen and Jim Carrey in mind, it’s hard to imagine them doing a much better job.

Mendes may have very little to do other than look pretty, but that’s a task she can do very well thankyousoverymuch. Best supporting gags come from the borderline senile agent Morty, with Seymour Cassel giving some of the most off the wall lines and best visual gags. In fact, there’s not really a bad performance in here, even if the roles are limited. Even Cher isn’t annoying, another Farrelly talent of making irritating actors bearable (see also Paltrow, Gwyneth and Black, Jack in Shallow Hal).

Humour is more relative than any other film genre and it’s unlikely that Stuck On You will give you a different perspective on the Farrellys output. To bastardise a quote, it’s as difficult to argue to someone that anything is amusing as it is to argue a man out of an erection. Mostly you have as little control over what you find amusing as you find erotic, and if you’ve found previous Farrelly films as amusing as pounding nails through your ankles then it’s unlikely although possible that this will change your mind on their output. It’s certainly less outrageous, despite the subject matter, than their previous stuff and it’s almost approaching subtle. It’s also one of their better outings for my money, managing to be consistently amusing and highly recommended if you’re in the mood for a daft yet groovy comedy.