An evil Siamese twin goes to great lengths to separate from his meek and nervous brother.
Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman, the screenwriting team behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Wild Wild West, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Carrey version) team up for their second Crypt episode here. The first was the similarly humorous For Cryin’ Out Loud a few weeks ago, which Price directed. This time it’s Seaman directing. In front of the camera we have comedic actor Timothy Stack (Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, Night Stand with Dick Dietrick) as the conservative boring twin Frank and character actor Jonathon Stark (best known as the sleazy and gross Bill Cole in Fright Night) as the sleazy and gross twin Eddie. Rounding out the cast is Suspiria‘s own Jessica Harper who, in the right light, often looks and sounds distractingly like Geena Davis.
HOW IS IT?
Frank and Eddie, like any decent set of Siamese twins comically connected at the waist, couldn’t be more different. Frank is such a wet blanket he crosses over into a large washcloth; the kind of guy who likes sensible cars, sensible clothes, and sensible past-times like the evenings with the symphony. Eddie’s past-times, on the other hand, largely consist of drugs, drinks, and dominatrices. It’s Odd Couple by way of Dead Ringers approach makes My Brother’s Keeper one of the more humorous episodes but unlike other sillier episodes, it balances this light tone with genuinely witty humor and well-modulated characters. Sure, Eddie’s an obnoxious loud-mouth dick, but he’s also an insidious coniving dick. It’s all about dynamics. Eddie feels trapped with his brother by his side at all times and wants him to agree to an experimental surgery that will separate them. Frank, however, is much to nervous to go through with such a risky procedure and, besides, he worries that he’ll be lonely without Eddie, which seems like a weak excuse because every moment he spends with Eddie seems to be a living hell.
All that changes, however, when Frank meets the smart and lovely Marie (Jessica Harper) in a bar one fateful night. He’s reading Malraux’s Man’s Hope and she’s reading Malraux’s Man’s Fate and they bond over the fact that they’re both the kind of pretentious snobs who read French revolutionary literature in crowded bars, which, for the record, is about a thousand times worse than writing your screenplay in a Starbucks. But before they can connect, Eddie, never more than a step away, rears his ugly head and tells Marie that “under that Marion the librarian exterior there’s a studded leather corset just itching to get out”, which is apparently his catchphrase since he says it to about a dozen more people throughout the episode. Even though she’s reluctant to spend time with Frank’s rude brother, she agrees to join them both in what has to be the most horribly awkward white people dancing since The Elaine. It’s only when she tries to Do-Si-Do in between them that she (and everyone else on the dance floor) realizes that they’re joined at the waist. She runs away as the rest of the crowd stops to point and stare, even though their dancing was more embarassing than their deformity by far.
Back at their lavish apartment (I would have given them a duplex, personally) Eddie gives Frank the hard sell. He tempts Frank with all of the amazing things he could do if they were separated. He could go to that cooking school in France he always wanted to attend. He could piss on his own. He could roll-over in bed. All of those little things that we take for granted though, again, they all pale in comparison to the fact that he wouldn’t be chained to a loudmouth asshole the rest of his life. Eddie really gives the pitch his all, hiding the release waiver around the house for Frank to find, but before he can seal the deal he gets a call from Marie, who apologizes for running away and asks Frank for a date. And on their date to the symphony they have a pretty great time, despite the obvious problems involved with dragging Eddie around high society like a bag of unwashed potatoes. Eddie, not able the take the intense boredom that is discussion of Crème brûlée recipes, gets shit-faced. And since they share a bloodstream, that means that Frank is drunk. But even though he’s too drunk to drive Marie home, they both agree the date went pretty well. Frank even gets a kiss at the end, filling his heart with warm feelings of love. And Eddie’s dick with blood. Conjoined twins are weird.
A few weeks later Frank and Marie are enjoying some quality time in the brothers’ king-sized bed while, immediately next to them, Eddie is enjoying quality time with a whip-wielding leather madam, riding his brother like a bronco. At this point, you’d think the brothers would invest in a curtain to divide the bed. Frank, who knows there’s a time and place for everything but doesn’t know what those are, decides to propose to Marie then and there. But the whole scene is too much and she excuses herself to the bathroom, with the dominatrix joining her “to check up”. While in the bathroom, it’s revealed that Marie, Eddie, and the dominatrix are all in on a plan to get Frank to sign the release waiver to go ahead with the surgery. Where the dominatrix fits in, is mystery to me. Marie returns from the bathroom, tells Frank that, as long as he’s attached to his brother, she can’t possibly marry him and leaves. He tries to chase after her but Eddie is handcuffed to the bed and Frank is attached to Eddie with what this episode has undoubtedly proven to be nature’s handcuff. They’re conjoined twins, you see.
With Frank’s true love gone, presumably forever, he does what he should have done in the first place: kicks the ever loving shit out of Eddie. I’m not above simple pleasures, so I’m going to come right out and say it: it’s really fun to watch conjoined twins fight. It’s nature’s version of that knife fight in West Side Story. As they finish Frank finally comes to his senses and decides to sign the waiver WHICH IS WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE DONE IN THE FIRST PLACE. But just before he can make it official, Marie returns having had a change of heart. She admits to the whole scheme and tells Frank she loves him and not to sign the papers because it’s too risky. Eddie buries a cleaver in her back for her troubles and even calls the police on himself, figuring that he’d never get the death penalty because to kill a guilty man while he’s attached to an innocent man would constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
Losing the love of his life twice within the span of half an hour proves to be too much for Frank, so he enacts a revenge of his own, swallowing as many of Eddie’s prescription sleeping pills as he can, drowning them in vodka. Right before they both pass out, Frank dips a fountain pen in Marie’s blood and signs the waiver. They wake up the next day side by side in a hospital bed with nothing more than a terrible hangover. Eddie laughs at his good fortune until a police detective wheels his bed away from Frank’s, revealing that they had the operation after all. Eddie cries for his brother but Frank just laughs and hits on the nurse, telling her that “under that crisp white uniform, there’s a studded leather corset just itching to get out”. The Friday the 13th sequels were also fond of this left-field “the hero is now the villain” bullshit and, now that I think about it, those endings ALSO always took place in hospital rooms. It made about as much sense in those as it does here.
HOW EVIL ARE THE WOMEN?
Another episode where all of the female characters are either deceitful or sex workers. Change of heart at the end or not, this isn’t a feminist trend.
ALSO WORTH NOTING:
*Not a single “Siamese? You don’t look oriental!” joke in the entire thing. Incredible.
*The experimental surgeon is German. Of course he’s German.
*My favorite subtle joke of the episode is that it opens on them driving AND exiting a non-convertible car, using tricky editing to hide that there’s no possible way they’d be able to get in and out of it.
*When talking with Marie in the bathroom, the dominatrix urges her to “pump up the jam”, to which Marie replies “pump it up, yeah”. And yes, the dominatrix DOES look a lot like Felly Kilingi of Technotronic.
WORST CRYPT KEEPER JOKE:
“Frank sure picked a deadly time to sever all thighs with his brother.”
More than anything, this episode reminds me a Farrelly Brothers movie. Specifically Stuck On You, which has the exact same concept but plays it for heart-warming chuckles (and the episode does pull off the fairly pedestrian task of being better than Stuck On You). But in tone, performance, and general worldview, it has a lot in common with There’s Something About Mary, or Me, Myself and Irene, or any of them really. There’s sight gags aplenty, many involving goofily bizarre sex acts, and big comic set pieces (the Siamese twin fight is the best bit). Plus, the villain is awfully Jim Carrey-ish, and before Carrey even hit, really. It outshines this writing team’s last effort, but I’d say A- is still generous. It’s written and played a bit too loudly, and there really ain’t anything under the hood on this one.