I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY
Chuck (Adam Sandler) owes his fireman colleague Larry (Kevin James) a big favour for saving his life in a fire. Larry, recently widowed, calls in that favour when red tape prevents him from naming his two kids as his life insurance beneficiaries. He needs a domestic partner and Chuck's the nearest thing he's got - plus they trust each other. At first it seems a simple signature on a form is all that's required, but to their horror, overzealous bureaucrat Clinton Fitzer (Steve Buscemi) starts investigating their domestic bliss, and declares their garbage to be 'not very gay'. They hire beautiful lawyer Alex McDonough (Jessica Biel), who sends them off to a gay wedding capital in Canada to get married and add hard evidence to their claim. Soon they discover that anti-gay prejudice, even among their closest colleagues, is alive and well - and begin to stand up for gays, affecting the lives of others around them.
Review by Louise Keller:
There's nothing believable in Chuck and Larry, but with its ultra likeable cast, there is some fun to be had, despite the politically incorrect, homophobic, trite, dated and predictable laughs it generates. Yes, the premise is familiar (after all, our Paul Hogan hooked up with Michael Caton in Strange Bedfellows, pretending to be gay to offset red tape), and the filmmakers have pulled out every old gay joke in the book to make sure we get the gag. But although the film is set in contemporary Brooklyn, its narrow approach to gay issues would have us believe its setting is 30 years ago. In the morality stakes, it doesn't fare well, with the scriptwriters (including Sideways screenwriters Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor) opting for Chuck and Larry to persist with their lie as they maintain the central theme of mateship. The result is cheap laughs at any cost.
The film begins with blokey bonding - on the basketball court, at the firestation and on the job putting out fires. Adam Sandler's womanizing Chuck is making the most of his Mr February calendar status and bedding bimbos by the handful, whereas Larry is doing his best as a single father, concerned that his young son wears sequins and tap dances. Highlights are Steve Buscimi, wonderfully droll as Clinton Fitzer, the assessor who checks the garbage checking for its degrees of 'gayness', and Ving Rhames as a closet homosexual who picks up the fallen soap in the shower scene (yes, the old soap in the nude male shower scene). There is no shortage of colour: Chuck plays a vampire and Larry a red apple at an outrageous fancy dress party. Plus there's the chintzy wedding ceremony, Chuck's 'girlie day' with Jessica Biel's lawyer Alex, who insists he feels her breasts to prove they are silicon-free and the gay local postie who has invented a new suggestive, gay postie-speak.
Everything is over the top and the humour is broad and crass. I must confess, I did laugh, and the film has an exuberance, but it is a shame the talents of all concerned could not have been channelled into entertainment that doesn't rely on outdated homophobia to glean its laughs.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
There were reported moves by the producers of Australian comedy, Strange Bedfellows, to sue the makers of this film for having taken their idea; my advice is DON'T! It would mean having to prove similarities, which would be a depressing diminution of Strange Bedfellows - which (while no great classic) is a better film than this pathetic nonsense. The only similarity is in the central idea of two very straight men entering a marriage of gay convenience for bureaucratic reasons - but even the reasons are different. OK, so both end up being about friendship, but that's true of so many films.
Chuck and Larry is a predictable piece of plastic filmmaking from a Hollywood sausage machine in which political correctness wins the day - after some low brow fun is had at gays' expense. The dialogue is woeful, the situation laughable and the characters are cardboard cutouts, who do everything possible to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
This is that rare movie that made me feel real pain watching it, its basic instincts so frayed and so manipulative they even rope the two kids into it. Eric (Cole Morgen) is a pre-teen queen who tapdances and does the splits better than his sister Tori (Shelby Adamowski) and both are precocious, seemingly all too knowing about gay relationships.
There are a couple of brief but entertaining scenes with Steve Buscemi as the zealous city inspector of domestic partnerships in Brooklyn, Ving Rhames does a decent job of the self-outing surprise gay, and Jessica Biel plays it straight (as it were) while the rest of the cast hams it up mercilessly. I couldn't wait for it to end.
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I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY (MA)
CAST: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Jessica Biel, Dan Aykroyd, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, Cole Morgen, Shelby Adamowski, Nicholas Tarturro, Allen Covert,
PRODUCER: Michael Bostick, James D. Brubaker, Jack Giarraputo, Adam Sandler
DIRECTOR: Dennis Dugan
SCRIPT: Barry Fanaro, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dean Semler
EDITOR: Jeff Gourson
MUSIC: Rupert Gregson-Williams
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Perry Andelin Blake
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 16, 2007