The Farrelly brothers (There’s Something About Mary, Me, Myself and Irene, Shallow Hal) have shifted the mix a bit with their latest movie. There is still plenty of outrageous physical humor, but with more sweetness than slapstick. And they’ve even added a new element we haven’t seen from them before — subtlety.
Okay, someone’s head slams into a post before the credit sequence is over. And many of the jokes come from the challenges of the main characters’ physical condition. But not all the jokes are head-bonkers in the center of the screen. Some of the funniest moments come from off in the corners of the frame including sly, even understated, satire about show business.
Matt Damon and Greg Kinner play Bob and Walt Tenor, conjoined twins who own a small restaurant on Martha’s Vinyard. Bob is the shy one who is carrying on an email romance with a girl in California. Walt is the outgoing ladies’ man who wants to be an actor. Following a triumph in his production of “Tru,” the one-man show about Truman Capote, he tells Bob he wants to go to Los Angeles to try to make it as an actor. Soon they are installed in the Rising Star apartments and Walt is meeting with agents and going on auditions.
They run into a couple of celebrities, including Cher(!) and Meryl Streep(!!). Cher decides that the best thing she can do to get out of a contract to star in an idiotic television series about a lawyer/investigator team called “Honey and the Beeze,” is to exercise her right to select her leading man by insisting on Walt. Meanwhile, Bob has finally met his email-pal in person, but has kept the special nature of his relationship with Walt a secret.
Damon and Kinnear give full-scale performances and make their characters both hilarious and touching. Their relationship, especially the way they support each other physically and emotionally, is a delight. Eva Mendes is adorable as the starlet whose reaction to finding them joined at the abdomen is to ask where they had it done. Whatever “work” Cher has had done has removed some of the expression from her face, but she is game and seems to enjoy spoofing her diva image. Streep is just a hoot, especially in her last scene. Be sure to stay through the end credits for a moving speech by one of the disabled actors who appears in the movie, describing what the experience has meant to him.
Parents should know that this movie has material that would certainly have received an R rating if it had not been in a comedy. Characters use very strong language (several s-words) and there are very explicit sexual references and (off-camera) situations, including pornography and a description of masturbation. Characters drink and smoke and one gets drunk. There is comic peril and fighting. Although a theme of the movie is tolerance, the word “fag” is used as an affectionate insult to someone who is not gay.
Families who see this movie should talk about why this story might have special appeal to a team of film-makers who are brothers. What are the ways that Walt and Bob support each other?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the other films by the Farrellys (very mature material). High school and adult audiences will appreciate a very different film starring Streep and Cher, Silkwood.