Thursday, April 15, 2010

Archive: "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" (2007)

And to think that respectable screenwriter Alexander Payne ("About Schmidt," "Sideways") actually had something to do with this low-grade excuse for a comedy. Aside from the contrived preaching during the last bit of the movie, this is basically a standard issue Adam Sandler flick that even hardcore fans of the guy will probably find to be immensely disappointing. If only I had known that "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" was going to be just another Happy Madision production.

The plot of the movie is surprisingly high-concept, but it simply doesn't know how to deal with the subject it wants to dabble in. Larry (Kevin James) is a New York City firefighter alongside his best friend, Chuck (Adam Sandler). In the wake of his wife's death, Larry forgot to change the beneficiary of his life insurance policy to his children. With such a high-risk job that he doesn't want to lose, Larry decides that desperate times call for desperate measures. And so, he asks his buddy Chuck to fake being gay with him so they can form a domestic partnership, and Larry can therefore call Chuck the beneficiary. The government becomes immediately suspicious, however, due to the fact that Larry was so recently married and Chuck is a known ladies' man. Sniveling inspector Clinton Fitzer (Steve Buscemi) is on the case. Worried about potential jail time, Chuck and Larry consult super hot lawyer babe, Alex McDonough (Jessica Beil), who offers them friendly advice for their situation.

I must say, there's some potential here, and it could've been a lot more sophisticated than it is. The movie has the facade of not being a total and an utter piece of crap, of course, with the likes of Jessica Beil adding some much-needed sex appeal to the entire ordeal. There's also the clever wit of Kevin James, but he is unfortunately underused and seems suffocated within the confines of the lame, over-used jokes. Ultimately, the movie takes the dumb route and goes for Sandler-level laughs like in the beginning where Chuck and Larry have to rescue an obese man from a fire. He rolls down the steps and farts on them! It's on this humor that the movie has to rely because everything else is simply too sexist, racist, and homophobic.

When the fake newly wedded couple goes shopping together in search of things to "gay" up their home, naturally Sandler grabs some lubricating cream. Don't all gays do that? There's also an extended gag on dropping the soap in the firehouse shower room. All of the straight men don't want to bend down to retrieve the soap when Chuck and Larry are in there, and if that wasn't funny enough, guess what happens next? They drop another bar of soap! Another source of humor is one of the most menacing firehouse guys, played by Ving Rhames, turning into a preening stereotype when he finally gains the courage to come out of the closet. Larry's son, though, is the epitome of gay stereotyping, and Chuck doesn't hesitate to bash his friend for having a boy interested in theater instead of baseball.

It's infuriating to see Sandler crack as many gay jokes as he wants early on, only to then later punch somebody in the face for calling him a "faggot," informing the knocked-out person that the correct vernacular is "gay." Oh, gag me. My question is this: If Adam Sandler doesn't want us laughing at these homophobic slurs, then why is that the only humor throughout the majority of his movie? What exactly am I supposed to be laughing at? Obviously nothing. Not only is the movie offensive to gays, but more importantly, it's offensive to everybody who enjoys a decent comedy. The huge embarrassment comes at the end when the movie turns into some bizarre sermon about accepting gay culture. How can a movie be this hypocritical? You can't just go offending everyone and then casually wrap everything up in the end, saying that it's wrong to do exactly what the entire movie just got done doing.

There's a nasty cameo by David Spade, and an even crappier one by Dan Ackroyd, who delivers the worst lines of his career. It's his character who unfortunately has to deliver the awfully sappy and insulting speech about tolerance and acceptance. What's most horrifying, though, is Rob Schneider as a nutty Asian minister whose obnoxiously stereotypical portrayal could've been maybe a little less offensive if it wasn't so damn unfunny. The biggest slap in the face, though, is an appearance by Lance Bass at a gay wedding near the end of the film.

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