Entertainment :: Movies

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

by David Foucher
EDGE Publisher
Friday Jul 20, 2007
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Kevin James and Adam Sandler in "I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry"
Kevin James and Adam Sandler in "I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry"  (Source:Universal Pictures)

What’s most fun about "I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry" is the fact that it’s so seditious; in large part, the movie is an overwritten, badly-cast mess - and yet it will make the millions of Adam Sandler fans understand what intolerance feels like even as they squirm through their laughter. It works surprisingly well, and not because we haven’t seen gay epithets, especially incredibly stereotypical gay epithets. It works because they’re hurled at straight guys.

For a writing team that includes "Sideways" scribes Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, along with Barry Fanaro of "Golden Girls" fame, the script is surprisingly daft - starting with the setup. Firefighter Larry (Kevin James) is a widowed father worried about his kids’ future if he were to die on the job. Due to filibustering by his insurance provider, he’s forced to find another way to guarantee their financial future. The ridiculous solution he pursues: get gay-married to his best friend, Chuck (Sandler). The two believe it to be an easy path of mostly paperwork, but when informed by attorney Alex McDonough (Jessica Biel) that the penalties for abusing the system are stiff and an anal-retentive fraud investigator (Steve Buscemi) begins sniffing their trash for evidence that they’re not really together, the two men are forced to make their partnership real.

Strangely enough, the movie gets better as it goes. Early sequences in which Sandler, for purposes of comedic contrast, sleeps with bimbo after bimbo (often two or more at a time), tend to bore. And while James sells his role, Sandler isn’t quite as adept at making his character believable. But once the two men are forced to "come out," their ultra-hetero response to homophobia holds plenty of comic potential, and the laughs come fast.

Much of the credit for the comedy, however, goes to the cast of supporting characters, which in many ways feels like a "who’s who" of Saturday Night Live. Dan Akroyd plays the firehouse chief whose fast-talking metaphors are matched to his physical ailments. Ving Rhames plays a fireman in the squad who, inspired by the open homosexuality of Chuck and Larry, comes swishing out of the closet; his finest moment occurs during a "who dropped the soap" shower scene that, like much of the movie’s schtick, seems uncomfortably until one of the actors - in this case Rhames - "goes there." Rachel Dratch, Robert Smigel, David Spade and Rob Schneider (see if you can spot him) also deliver cameos that’ll crack you up. Even Buscemi manages to land a few funny bits.

The story suffers from an over-zealous final act, wherein the message "biased people suck" is delivered with all the subtlety of a two-by-four; but I’m not entirely convinced I care. Frankly, the movie, while clearly attempting to minimize any offense to the LGBT community, is not targeted to it. It’s also not targeted to the highly-educated, art-house audiences that turned out for "Brokeback Mountain." "Chuck and Larry" is as mainstream a movie as there ever was, poking fun at gay relationships even as it celebrates them - albeit in a very unusual way. And if Adam Sandler wants to stare directly at his audience and tell them that intolerance is unacceptable, I’m good with that.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

Chuck Levine :: Adam Sandler
Larry Valentine :: Kevin James
Alex McDonough :: Jessica Biel
Capt. Tucker :: Dan Aykroyd
Duncan :: Ving Rhames
Clint Fitzer :: Steve Buscemi
Renaldo Pinera :: Nicholas Turturro
Steve :: Allen Covert
Benefits Supervisor :: Rachel Dratch
Councilman Banks :: Richard Chamberlain
Kevin McDonough :: Nick Swardson
Crazy Homeless Man :: Blake Clark
Teresa :: Mary Pat Gleason
Glen Aldrich :: Matt Winston
Band Leader :: Lance Bass

Director, Dennis Dugan; Writer, Barry Fanaro; Writer, Alexander Payne; Writer, Jim Taylor; Producer, Adam Sandler; Producer, Jack Giarraputo; Producer, Tom Shadyac; Producer, Michael Bostick; Executive Producer, Barry Bernardi; Executive Producer, Lew Gallo; Executive Producer, Ryan Kavanaugh; Cinematographer, Dean Semler; Film Editor, Jeff Gourson; Production Design, Perry Andelin Blake; Casting, Roger Mussenden; Original Music, Rupert Gregson-Williams; Costume Designer, Ellen Lutter; Art Director, Alan Au; Set Decoration, Gary Fettis.

David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his husband and daughter in Dedham MA.

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