Stuck On You

dir. The Farrelly Brothers

Opens Fri Dec 12

Various Theaters

Let us for a moment ponder the oeuvre of the Farrelly Brothers. I'm serious, take a look. Three titles stand out: Dumb & Dumber, Kingpin, and There's Something About Mary--three films that just so happen to be the siblings' first. Dumb & Dumber remains one of the funniest movies of the past ten years; Kingpin is a bit of a stumble, but still fairly hilarious (thanks in no small part to Bill Murray); There's Something About Mary is one of the most successful comedies of all time. And the remainder of their resume? Me, Myself & Irene, which is dull and generally unfunny, and Shallow Hal, which is best described via onomatopoeia: thud.

What has this gander shown us? That the Farrelly Brothers have apparently peaked, and they peaked spectacularly early.

Stuck On You, their latest film, stars Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear as conjoined twins named Bob and Walt Tenor. Connected by nine inches of tissue (including a shared liver), the twins live a quiet, happy life in Martha's Vineyard. Walt, though, has dreams; he wishes to move to Los Angeles and become an actor. This idea does not sit well with Bob at first--he loves Martha's Vineyard, and being onstage gives him panic attacks--but the thought of seeing his true love, May Fong (Wen Yann Shih), who he met on the internet and who just happens to live in L.A., changes his mind. So off the brothers go.

What happens to them in L.A.? In a word: wackiness. Actually, add another word to that: attempted wackiness, for Stuck On You, like Me, Myself & Irene and Shallow Hal, is a failure--far too long and built upon the ricketiest of premises, the picture unfolds in a painfully dull fashion, trudging along for 120 minutes until it reaches its predictable conclusion. Will Bob and Walt succeed in Hollywood? Will Bob get his girl? Will the twins decide to be separated? You already know the answers to these questions, which means all Stuck On You can offer is hilarity. And hilarity, alas, is in very short supply.

Still, the film's vacancy of laughter is not for lack of effort by its two stars; Damon and Kinnear work mighty hard to tickle our ribs in the film, but no matter how much they sweat, the picture itself is painfully inert. Damon especially twists himself into knots, diving into his role just as someone not fully experienced with comedy naturally would; his performance is a highlight of the film, but all his work has sadly gone for naught because the Farrellys have apparently forgotten just what comedy is. How many lame puns about conjoined twins can the brothers muster? The answer, as it turns out, is far more than you can imagine, which gives Stuck On You the one thing sure to kill any comedy. That thing: the stench of desperation.

Late in the film, there is one splendid moment: a staged musical version of Bonnie & Clyde starring Walt and, perplexingly, Meryl Streep. It is an inspired and completely absurd sequence, and it serves as a reminder that the Farrellys, once upon a time, were very funny men.