I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
At one time depicting a homosexual couple in a film would have gotten it banned in every major market. For course, this seems archaic now but those days were not too long ago. Usually when a forbidden topic enters the mainstream cinema it is done as a drama. Next follows a few flicks with the theme in the peripheral of the main story. Finally the romantic comedies are released. For the issue of gay marriage this time has now arrived with the Universal flick, ‘I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry’. While the film does have its laugh out loud moments it is typically puerile romp through just about every gay stereotype available and then some. A comedy can make a social statement and still remain humorous but this flick doesn’t quite reach its potential. There was a risk taken here. The topic of same sex marriage is one that is debated in the pulpits and legislative bodies all over the country. It is very serious to both sides of the issue but here it is used as fodder for some schoolyard pranks and jokes. At this point in the debate perhaps a more subtle approach many have been warranted. Usually the term subtle and the name Adam Sandler are never used in the same discussion; this film doesn’t ruin that streak. Now there is a place in the wide variety of cinema for all types of movies and this one makes for a decent popcorn flick. Compared to others in a similar vein it has a tendency to be blunt force were a little finesse is called for. If you want a truly great film with similar theme go for ‘Birdcage’. If you want a few cheap laughs with friends then pop this into your DVD player and sit back.
Larry Valentine (Kevin James) is a New York City Firefighter who recently lost his beloved wife. He has to face the daunting task of raising their two children, Eric (Cole Morgen) and his younger sister Tori (Shelby Adamowsky). Larry is so grief stricken that he overlooks some important details in life; one of which is changing the primary beneficiary of his pension. Having let the deadline for alterations come and go leaves Larry with a serious problem of having no one legally able to care for his kids should something happen to him. His only option is to get married again. The caught is Larry does not see any woman as a suitable replacement for his late wife. One day on a fire run Larry is doing a routine search with his partner Chuck Levine (Adam Sandler). The floor burns away from under Chuck and if it wasn’t for Larry catching him and using his own body as a shield it would have certainly been a fatal fall. Larry awakens in the same hospital where his wife recently died. This gets Larry think that he can no longer afford to risk his life each day at work. The most important thing in Larry’s life is finding some way to make sure his children are provided for. Larry happens across a magazine that has an article about same sex domestic partnerships. A brilliant idea strikes Larry from out of the blue. He wants to make Chuck his pseudo life partner and use him as the beneficiary for his policies and guardian of his children. Chuck is a big time ladies man. His bachelor pad is Grand Central Station for the constant parade of beautiful and willing young women. Chuck is extremely reluctant to make such a commitment, even if it is not real, as it may put a crimp in his social life. He finally gives in since Larry did save his life.
After they fill out the paper work and submit it a Benefits Supervisor (Rachel Dratch) drops by to make sure this is a real relationship. She infers that they are subject to surprise visits which mean that Larry and Chuck have to actually live together as domestic partners. They realize that they need a lawyer to help sort things out. The lawyer, Alex McDonough (Jessica Biel) informs them that such spur of the moment visits are routine and if they discover that any part of their relationship is a fraud there is jail time in their future. They wind up going to Canada to get married hoping that will satisfy the inspectors. The surprise visits are given to an expert in uncovering fraudulent claims, Clinton Fitzer (Steve Buscemi). He remarks that they don’t seem ‘gay enough’. Meanwhile Chuck is becoming close with Alex. Much to his dismay she sees him as a girlfriend even feeling comfortable about disrobing in front of him.
Chuck and Larry represent a reunion of Adam Sandler and Dennis Dugan. Dugan directed two of Sandler’s earlier flicks ‘Big Daddy’ and ‘Happy Gilmore’. The style of direction is basically the same as in those previous movies; provide a loose framework and turn Sandler loose in front of the cameras. His camera work here focuses a lot on the physical attributes of Ms Biel. The scene where she invites Sandler to squeeze her breasts to prove they are real appears to go on forever; not that many men a good number or women will be prone to complain. The close ups of her body parts does give this more of a juvenile look that it should have. The topic of benefits is also something that is of vital importance to many people and deserved a little more than the brief premise it receives. That is not to say that this should have been an issues comedy but if you are going to bring up something do it right. It is just that this could have been a smart comedy but instead it takes you right back to the junior high school locker room.
On television Kevin James is another stand up comedians who received his own sit-com. He is great in ‘King of Queens’ as the average working guy with a wife far out of his league. Here is takes the blue collar persona on again. He plays Larry sympathetically; a man concerned with his children, missing is wife and dedicated to his job. You can’t help but to reach out emotionally for his character. It also makes up to some degree for the absurd plot. He also serves as a grounding influence for his co-star, Sandler. Let’s face it when you go to an Adam Sandler flick you know that you are not in for any form of high brow antics. His performance here makes Benny Hill seem like a Shakespearian comedy. He is one of the better actors around when it comes to physical comedy. Sandler has the ‘never grow up’ vibe down perfectly bringing us back to the antics of the class clown who will do anything for a laugh. I have to give credit to Jessica Biel. Yes, she is one of the most beautiful young women around and this film depends heavily on her attractiveness. Ever since she left the long standing television drama, ‘7th Heaven’ she has been actively seeking out different roles to take on. From serious period pieces to light comedy Ms Biel has working on expanding her talent.
Universal Studios gives their usual great job of presenting this film to DVD. They have three variations in format to choose from. You can get either the Pan & Scan or widescreen DVD or the HD-DVD edition. Since this is a recent release by a major studio the video and audio are nothing less than fantastic. Universal does give you a good selection of extras. There are a set of deleted scenes, some of which were removed to get the film a more family friendly PG-13 rating. Next is the blooper reel. With Sandler on set they must have had a lot of footage to choose from. The main cast selects and discusses their favorite scenes. Lastly there is a look at the many stars you made cameo appearances. If you need a laugh and a bit of a pick me up this may just be right for you. .