Jul 21, 2007

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

We were barely getting over 300, and now this: a movie about two straight firemen who pretend to be gay to ensure that one's life insurance policy won't go to spit if he should die. This all sounds nice on paper, but the execution could be lightly described as flippin' horrendous. While twits are raging against John Travolta slipping into a fat suit to replace Divine in Hairspray, they're missing out on Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and a veritable who's-who of cameo stars sinking in an overblown, patently-ridiculous monolith of fag jokes and gay stereotypes. In I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, director Dennis Dugan has moved quickly from sentimental spoon-feeding into the realm of absolute absurdity.

So, one day Chuck Levine (Sandler) and Larry Valentine (James) decide to get hitched. The reason is simple: Larry doesn't want to fill-out an insurance form, so he gets Chuck to pose as his "life partner," thus allowing any pension money to go directly to Larry's two kids, a tomboy daughter and a showtune-singing son. Larry still can't get over his saintly wife's death and Chuck has more than likely contracted more STDs than the leather upholstery in Tommy Lee's Jaguar; they're a match made in heaven.

All is not well in fake-gay heaven, however. The government has sent a snoop (Steve Buscemi) to make sure the boys are an actual couple; the boys hire a smokin'-hot lawyer (Jessica Biel) to prove they are, indeed, gay. Larry must defend their affair to their firehouse full of absent-minded machismo cardboard characters while Chuck falls for said smokin' lawyer and makes friends with the new closeted fireman (Ving Rhames).

Though surely its heart is in the right place, Chuck and Larry will do about as much good for the homosexual debate as Crash did for racial issues. That is to say, both take their issue at face-value and do nothing to investigate or comment on it really. This would be fine, but the film doesn't even work as a comedy; every single joke garners only courtesy laughs. Give Dugan credit, though: He's now extended the "don't drop the soap" joke to include a rendition of Whitney Houston's "I'm Every Woman." The film throws clichés at you from all angles: The scene between the gay clubbers and religious misfits could be quoted verbatim by any modest moviegoer without seeing the movie.

What ultimately causes the film to collapse on itself (besides the excruciating 140-minute running time) is the simple fact that this is still a dumb Adam Sandler film. The only difference between Chuck and Larry and, say, Happy Gilmore is that Gilmore is about being angry and Larry is about being gay. Dugan has attempted to push homosexual life into the most American (read: heterosexual) of film genres: the romantic comedy. That it's an uncomfortable fit comes as no surprise, but that it misses the target so widely in both laughs and context designates it as a purebred disaster. For anyone who has the common sense to realize the buffoonery of opposing gay marriage, Chuck and Larry seems like a self-congratulatory slap on the back, but, in truth, it's closer to an idle engine.

She'll definitely pass the Bar Exam.

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