On Sunday, the Golden Globes dubbed Meryl Streep “the most celebrated artist of our time” before giving her a lifetime achievement award. That’s not a wild claim: When I say “great Meryl Streep movie” or even “iconic Streep performance,” I could be talking about any number of roles in any number of pictures, from Kramer vs. Kramer to The Devil Wears Prada. (Just not The Iron Lady; that movie was trash.) She has appeared in dozens of critically acclaimed motion pictures!
Also, she has appeared in the 2003 comedy Stuck on You, a Farrelly brothers joint about conjoined twins Bob (Matt Damon) and Walt (Greg Kinnear) Tenor. They live in Martha’s Vineyard, own a diner, and share a liver. And eventually they befriend Meryl Streep (Meryl Streep).
If you watched the montage of classic Streep performances at this year’s Globes, you might not know this, because the Hollywood Foreign Press Association unjustly ignored Stuck on You. The Farrelly brothers weren’t always so grossly forsaken. They were America’s profitable, profane comedy sweethearts for most of the ’90s, starting with 1994’s Dumb & Dumber and reaching an apex with 1998’s There’s Something About Mary. In the early 2000s, they didn’t fall off so much as skydive into a jar of Something About Mary gel, and by the time Stuck on You came around, their fart jokes stank and their star was tarnished. But they clearly had residual goodwill with some A-list agents, because they had enough cachet to convince Streep to come aboard, and not for some 10-second courtesy cameo. She has lines. She has a story arc. In addition to playing her regular self, she also plays herself playing Bonnie in a New England–based musical retelling of Bonnie and Clyde.
I don’t know why the HFPA is too good for Stuck on You. They liked The Tourist, and trust me, that movie is far more offensive. Comparing Stuck on You to 2016 studio comedies, it’s funnier than Bad Moms but not as funny as Neighbors 2. In other words: It’s good for a chortle on an airplane. In fact, I’d argue that Stuck on You is one of the more honest portrayals of life as an aspiring actor in Los Angeles, and without a doubt the most honest portrayal of life as aspiring conjoined twin actors in Los Angeles. After Walt decides he wants to give acting a shot, the brothers inhabit a scuzzy motel, where even very beautiful actresses like April (Eva Mendes) toil in obscurity, unwilling to admit that stardom is out of reach. Producers are rude; talent is an afterthought. When Walt finally gets his big break, it’s because he’s in the right place at the right time and someone’s feeling spiteful. Any pretense of skill takes a backseat to happenstance and vengeance, and Walt is always considered disposable. (Also, that spiteful “someone” is Bob Mackie/mullet-era Cher, who also plays herself.) What’s more, even though Walt and Bob are famous enough to appear on the late-night circuit — prompting a cameo from Jay Leno — Walt’s star falls quickly after the cancellation of his first show, and that’s sort of it for him and TV. What’s more, Walt does not become happier or more fulfilled by fame; in fact, he feels sad that his fame negatively affects his family. What’s the most, the film portrays Streep as so eager to escape Hollywood that she gladly signs on to a provincial stage production in wintertime New England.
Aside from its trenchant observations about the hollow, reeking center of celebrity, and aside from its dynamite one-two punch of Meryl and Cher portraying themselves, Stuck on You also features a Jack Nicholson cameo, a Ben Carson cameo, and an unimpeachable soundtrack. If the Farrellys were able to drum up enough interest to make Dumb & Dumber To in 2014, why not Stuck on You 2: Re-Stuck? When Streep gets her second lifetime achievement award in 2037, the HFPA won’t have an excuse.