For more than 30 years, brothers Bob and Walt Tenor have been joined at the hip. These conjoined twins have refused to shelve their dreams, playing sports for Bob’s sake, and doing stage productions to satisfy the thespian in Walt. Whether running a burger joint in Martha’s Vineyard or picking up women in bars, they make the best of potentially awkward situations. One day, Walt decides he wants to try acting in Hollywood. Bob agrees to go, a little nervous that it will introduce him to May, a woman he has grown fond of via the Internet. When Bob meets May in Los Angeles, he refuses to tell her exactly how close he is to his brother, which results in comical attempts to disguise their birth defect.
Meanwhile, Walt hires an agent and struggles to get work. His break comes when Cher finds herself contractually obligated to star in a new TV series she abhors. Since she gets to select her leading man, she figures her choice of Walt will cause the network to break the contract so that she doesn’t have to. The brass call her bluff and, against all odds, Honey and the Beaze becomes a hit. Although a surgical separation would be dangerous for Walt, he and Bob ultimately decide that it’s time to go their separate ways, only to discover afterward how close they really are.
Stuck on You has problems, but it also contains more redemptive themes and characters than any Farrelly brothers picture to date. Bob and Walt care for one another so deeply and sincerely that each one selflessly pursues what is important to the other. The brothers recall a pact they made as children (“We promised we’d never hold each other back, no matter what”).
Because the twins share a liver, doctors say surgical separation would pose no risk to Bob, but would leave Walt with a 50 percent chance of survival. So it’s heartwarming to hear that Bob is the one who continually vetoes the procedure. When Walt gets discouraged in Hollywood, his sib refuses to let him quit even though it puts Bob—prone to panic attacks and ill-at-ease in the spotlight—in a very uncomfortable position. The duo employ a mentally challenged man in their restaurant, and stick up for him when a rude customer calls the waiter a “freak.”
Unlike previous Farrelly brothers efforts, this one draws humor out of a physical challenge without being mean-spirited toward its targets. Walt's agent, Morty, advises the brothers to hide their uniqueness, but April (a lingerie model and aspiring actress) smartly tells them to embrace who they are. Difficulties arise in Bob and May’s relationship, not because of his physical dynamic, but because he hasn’t been totally honest with her. She is a sweet girl who decides that she loves him for who he is on the inside (by extension, the audience learns to look past exteriors as well).
A scan of Hollywood and Vine reveals a sidewalk evangelist preaching in the midst of prostitutes that “the Lord hates the sin, but loves the sinner.” Cher wears a large cross around her neck while talking about her bad karma. The TV show Cher stars in is described as being so squeaky clean that “it makes Touched by an Angel look like Trainspotting.” It is said in jest that Jehovah’s Witnesses only like knock-knock jokes.
Crass humor and anatomical slang are common. Walt is a ladies’ man who lusts for attractive women. He chides his never-married brother for not having intercourse for five years, and later tells Bob that an advantage to being surgically separated is that he will be able to “masturbate alone, like the good Lord intended.” Walt picks up a stranger in a bar and takes her home for sex (the audience watches Bob as a curtain separates him from the loud romp occurring on the other side).
Jokes involve erections, penis size, female accoutrements and homosexuality. April wears outfits that show off her figure and accentuate her cleavage. In a one-man show, Walt effeminately portrays Truman Capote. His first job in Hollywood turns out to be a porn film (he doesn’t go through with it, but the audience overhears the other actors and sees Walt in a Speedo). Famous for dating men much younger than herself, Cher is shown watching TV in bed with Frankie Muniz. A commercial features bouncing, buxom, bikini-clad beach babes. Walt gets a lap dance at a strip club. There are approving winks at promiscuity.
Slapstick comedy includes Walt walking into a light pole, an errant dart hitting a man in the head, Bob hanging out of a moving bus, etc. The brothers get into a fistfight and wrestle on the ground, punching and elbowing each other. After trying to avoid a confrontation in a nightclub, they are goaded into a brawl by thugs.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Numerous scenes involve alcohol. The brothers drink beer in bars, nightclubs and while they barbecue in the backyard. At one point, Walt intentionally gets hammered, downing beer and shots while smoking cigarettes (even though Bob does the driving, the duo still spends a night in jail). Characters toast with champagne. Walt and Cher sip margaritas. Morty smokes cigars.
Known for gross-out gags, envelope-pushing raunch and mean-spirited attacks on defenseless targets (the physically and mentally challenged have taken a beating over the years), the Farrelly brothers show an uncharacteristic amount of heart in Stuck on You. But the profanity and sexual content, despite being throttled back a bit to garner a PG-13 rating, is still offensive and inappropriate. Therefore, I don’t recommend this movie by any stretch. But there’s no denying the positive steps the Farrellys take here.
I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “touching” to describe one of their films, but it applies here. Bob and Walt genuinely love each other. They’ve spent their lives making sacrifices for one another. And when they’re eventually separated, it’s almost like watching people who’ve been divorced or widowed trying to compensate for the part of them that’s no longer there. As much as you want to see both free to live independently, there’s a sadness about it. Credit the writing and performances by Damon and Kinnear, who’ve created sympathetic, three-dimensional human beings rather than props joined at the midsection waiting merely to serve as a punch line.
Some viewers will argue that a one-joke comedy about conjoined twins is foundationally insensitive and in bad taste. Because of the way it’s executed, others will see the humor as a delivery system for positive messages about brotherhood, selflessness and looking beyond exteriors to embrace people who are different. Both sides have an argument. Of course, Stuck on You would be far healthier if a surgical procedure had been performed in the editing room separating the off-color humor from its pro-social themes.