MovieMantz Review: ‘I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry’

My Big Fat Gay Wedding

by Scott Mantz

“I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry”
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Jessica Biel
Directed by: Dennis Dugan

It must have looked funny on paper.

In “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry,” Kevin James plays Larry Valentine, a widowed New York firefighter who pretends to be gay and marries his fellow firefighter, Chuck Levine, in an effort to reap the insurance benefits for his kids. Chuck reluctantly goes along with his best friend's charade, but when it interferes with his love life and prevents him from scoring with the gorgeous attorney (Jessica Biel) assigned to their case, hilarity ensues.

At least, it should.Sadly, it doesn't, and that’s because “Chuck & Larry” is a dated, ill-conceived project that's wrong on so many levels.

For starters, the whole pretending-to-be-gay routine is ridden with clichés and stereotypes, resulting in a film that's predictable and uninspired. That's surprising, given that the screenplay was co-written by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, who previously collaborated on smart, funny, profound human dramedies like “Election,” “About Schmidt” and “Sideways.”

But with a director like Dennis Dugan calling the shots, “Chuck & Larry” is laced with more juvenile, slapstick humor. Perhaps that's to be expected, since Dugan also directed “Big Daddy” and “Happy Gilmore” — lowbrow comedies that Sandler also starred in. It doesn't help that at 1 hour and 55 minutes, the film is a good 20 minutes longer than it deserves to be.

More than anything, the timing is just bad for “Chuck & Larry,” and for that, you can thank Isaiah Washington. Ever since he called T.R. Knight a “faggot” during a highly publicized spat with Patrick Dempsey on the set of TV's “Grey's Anatomy,” a lot of attention has been drawn to just how ugly that word is. The problem is that it's used quite a bit during “Chuck & Larry,” and the results can be so uncomfortable that it takes you out of the movie.

But since this is a branded Adam Sandler production all the way, being politically correct was probably never part of the agenda to begin with. As Chuck, he lays on his chauvinism pretty thick, and his old buddy Rob Schneider shows up in a small role that just might be the most racially offensive Asian stereotype since Mickey Rooney played the upstairs neighbor in 1961’s “Breakfast at Tiffany's.”

Admittedly, “Chuck & Larry” has a few chuckles to show for itself, thanks to game performances by Kevin James and Jessica Biel, but otherwise, it’s so far off base that it never really had a chance. Perhaps that’s because in this day and age, there's nothing shocking about two men being married, especially in a city like New York, where anything goes.

So come to think of it, someone should have taken a closer look at that paper.


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