Genre: Romantic Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 55 min.
Release Date: July 20th, 2007 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Dennis Dugan Actors: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Jessica Biel, Dan Aykroyd, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, Nicholas Turturro, Rachel Dratch, Nick Swardson, Richard Chamberlain
movie about homosexual rights, made by a group of straight filmmakers for a straight audience, “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry” walks the fine line of political correctness (which, as the years pass, becomes more and more restrictive) as it follows a stereotypical comedy formula. Teetering on the border of obnoxiousness and funniness, this little picture manages to wedge every single gay joke in the book into one film, while still managing to leave audiences with a palatable – albeit forced – message about intolerance and persecution. Though this summer comedy isn’t likely to ignite worthwhile debates, it might just be flaming enough to turn a few heads.
While trying to ensure that his children receive his life insurance benefits, New York fireman Larry Valentine (Kevin James) gets caught up in a web of bureaucratic loopholes. Turning to the one friend he can trust, fellow firefighter and flourishing bachelor Chuck (Adam Sandler), the two concoct a scheme to take advantage of domestic partnership rights by posing as a gay couple. But, to stave off claims of fraudulence, they must follow lawyer Alex McDonough’s (Jessica Biel) suggestion of acquiring a marriage license (from Canada) and cohabitation. The plot thickens, of course, when Chuck falls for Alex (curiously, or purposefully given a unisex name) putting the ambiguously gay duo into a bind. If Chuck reveals that he’s not gay, he risks both of them getting hauled off to jail. Alternatively, he’ll be stuck with his smokin’ hot lawyer as a mere friend.
While some may criticize the film for its overly macho protagonists being painted as excessively straight – exemplified by gaggles of supermodel conquests and Hooters hostesses all lined up, along with subscriptions to a variety of porno rags – these traits are unfortunately something of a necessity. While most viewers who might frown upon “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry” for its shallowness are probably well versed in tolerating alternative forms of sexual lifestyles, the film is ultimately targeting homophobic (or homophobic-leaning) audiences with its humor and messages. Its slapstick and jests serve as a bridge between genuinely dramatic explorations of gay characters in cinema.
Aside from inspired performances by Ving Rhames and Cole Morgan (who plays Larry’s flamboyant young son), everyone here is rather tepid when it comes to challenging conventional depictions of homosexuality in a generic, comic environment. Obviously, however, this makes “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry” eligible for mainstream appeal and, ultimately, bigger box office takings. Had the film allowed the title characters to give up their struggle in concealing their masculinity, it could have potentially damaged some of the easy-going chemistry or levity shared by the pseudo domestic partners. And, though some might find the conclusion overly preachy, most audiences should be pleased with the general dependance on raunchy humor and the overall lack of depth for the subject matter. There isn’t much below the surface of this modest, restrained production, but it’s still able to marry goodnatured laughs with its goofily implausible storyline.
– Mike Massie