But in "Stuck on You," they strike an agreeable balance of emotions and laughs. Matt Damon and especially Greg Kinnear service the material perfectly and make us forget the Farrellys' original dream pairing of Jim Carrey and Woody Allen. Early on, the movie struggles to break free of its one-joke premise; however, it kicks in nicely when story, character and laughs share equal billing.
Damon and Kinnear play conjoined twins Bob and Walt Tenor, purveyors of a burger joint in Martha's Vineyard. Connected by an eight-inch piece of flesh at the hip, they're two well-defined halves of a smoothly functioning whole. We see the Tenors flipping burgers, boxing, playing hockey and throwing a baseball with seamless precision. They are clearly comfortable with their existence, which they approach with accommodation and good humor. But Walt, the dreamer of the two, has caught the acting bug and convinces his shy brother to move to Hollywood, land of fame, fortune and Bob's internet girlfriend May (Wen Yann Shih), whom he's never met. She, naturally, doesn't know there's something about Bob.
With Walt harboring fantasies of acting with Meryl Streep and making it in showbusiness, the twins arrive in Los Angeles. Despite landing an agent (Seymour Cassel), Walt secures his own work by running into Cher on the Fox lot. She's starring in a heinous TV drama called "Honey and the Beaze" and hopes the network will cancel the show after she demands Walt (with Bob attached) as her co-star. Of course, Walt is hired, "Honey and the Beaze" becomes a hit and our two stooges become the talk of Tinsletown. So with Walt a celebrity and Bob in love with his internet girlfriend, they decide to have themselves separated.
Damon and Kinnear show great chemistry. The latter especially nails Walt's wide-eyed optimism without ever forgetting he's in a Farrelly Brothers movie. Cher is admirably game in sending up her diva persona while shots of Seymour Cassel flying in and out of frame on his motorized wheelchair are pretty damn hilarious. Meryl Streep cameos wonderfully as herself and even takes part in the film's closing musical number. As usual with the Farrellys, excellent needle-drop music and a fun score help enhance the comedy flavor. Recognizable Los Angeles locations are used to good effect and the exteriors of Rockport, Mass., (subbing for Martha's Vineyard) are gorgeous.
It's easy to understand why Peter and Bobby Farrelly would gravitate toward the story of brothers who depend on each other. It also fits their unique niche: sweet and sour tales of society's fringe players, be they schizophrenic ("Me, Myself and Irene"), obese ("Shallow Hal") or conjoined twins ("Stuck on You"). That the Farrelly brothers no longer seem willing to push the limits of vulgarity will disappoint many. But if they can up the hilarity quotient while keeping the sentiment at an acceptable level, they'll be on firm filmic ground. "Stuck on You" is as close as they've come to perfecting that recipe. Starring Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Eva Mendes, Seymour Cassel and Cher. Directed and written by Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly. Produced by Bradley Thomas, Charles B. Wessler, Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly. A Fox release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor and some language. Running time: 118 min