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Sunday, July 22, 2007

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

I love weddings. All weddings, but especially gay weddings. It’s true. I know that sounds biased, but I can’t help it. I’ve never been to a gay wedding that wasn’t too, too fab-u-lous for words. The only thing that comes close in “real life” are celebrity weddings like the two million dollar-plus bash “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria just threw for herself and the what’s-his-name-hubby-she’ll-be-divorcing-in-two-years-or-less. That affair, like so many other celeb events, splashes the pages of tabloids all over the world while Mary Hart and her ilk go practically orgasmic on the telly describing everything from napkin holders to the number of pins it took to hold the gown together during the fifth fitting the week before the event. It gets really sickening. That’s a good reason unto itself to love gay weddings because they tend to do the fabu yet not get the nauseatingly overkill publicity since so many people still shun gays and lesbians in the public eye. Shame on you out there! You’re just so, so 1950s.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Adam Sandler (Click) and Kevin James (star of tv’s long-running “King of Queens”) star as best friends who are also firefighters in the same company. Chuck is a single, womanizing man-slut, and proud of his reputation with the ladies. Larry, meanwhile, is a widower of three years, raising his two kids on his own, baseball-loving daughter Tori (Shelby Adamowsky) and show-tune singing, tap-dancing Broadway-bound Eric (Cole Morgen).

After Larry saves Chuck’s life during a building collapse that lands both of them in the hospital, it leaves Larry facing the reality that if something were to happen to him his kids would have no life insurance benefits to help them make it through to adulthood. He had neglected to take care of the yearly paperwork required to stay current on his policy because it was something his wife had always handled and since her death he had been too grief stricken to even look at mail addressed to her. Duh! This has to be the dumbest plot device ever used in a movie, but okay, let’s go with it. At least he didn’t say the dog must have eaten the letters.

So Larry’s attempts to get his insurance reinstated prove futile as the only options for signing on are at the time of a birth, marriage or death related to the primary member. For Larry, short of getting someone pregnant really fast (and he isn’t even dating) or dying (which would defeat the purpose), his only chance left to guarantee the kids’ future is to get married. Fortunately, since Chuck promised he’d do anything for Larry since he saved his life, it occurs to Larry that the two of them could get a civil domestic partnership (valid in New York City) and submit it to the insurance company and no one would have to know any better.

Well, that wouldn’t be any fun, now would it? In due course EVERYBODY finds out about the “couple” and Chuck and Larry are forced to live together and play out their new roles for fear of being prosecuted for fraud by the insurance carrier. Complicating things is their new attorney, Alex McDonough, played by Jessica Biel (Next), who Chuck falls for hard and who she takes a shine to as her new best “girlfriend”. So while Chuck has impure thoughts at every turn, Alex innocently strips to her skivvies in front of him and insists he feels her breasts to prove to her “gay” friend that she has not had implants. Oh dear. It does get interesting.

Meanwhile, though, the men experience a lot of what gay people do everyday. They are called names, threatened, and their jobs are put at risk. Friends turn their backs on them, and strangers mock them. It’s not a serious documentary, mind you, but the message is clear, and I will hand it to writers Barry Fanaro (Men in Black II and tv’s “The Golden Girls”), Alexander Payne (
Oscar winner for Sideways), and Payne’s real-life partner Jim Taylor (also an Oscar winner for Sideways) for their delicately balancing humor and social concerns without letting the latter overwhelm the former. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is jam-packed with laughs, and, amazingly, they are not the usual degrading “F” bomb types of junk you’d find in sophomoric teen comedies. The comedy here is about the situations and about the characters much more than about creating new ways to make fun of gays and lesbians. That said, don’t be shocked when you do hear the “F” word bandied about. Especially during the first part of the movie, it gets quite a workout as the men at the firehouse are set up to be homophobic in nature. Of course, from that point it is up to Chuck and Larry to open their eyes and change what’s in their hearts even though that’s exactly how they were before this would-be scam “outed” them as “lovers”.

Steve Buscemi (I Think I Love My Wife) shines as the weasely Clinton Fitzer, an investigator sent from the insurance company to nose around the Levine-Valentine home. Besides worming his way into the good graces of the children he goes so far as to examine the couple’s garbage, looking for “gay evidence”, and when he informs the men their trash isn’t “gay enough” it sends them on a frenzy of shopping for every stereotypical thing they can find, from KY Jelly to Clay Aiken cds. Personally, I think they should have just called Ryan Seacrest and asked to follow him on his next shopping spree and then just copied his tastes.

Ironically, while the movie does manage to promote the positive “we’re just like you” image of gays, it seems to delight in trying to offend the Asian audience with what has to be the most caricatured performance of an Asian character since the 1930s “Charlie Chan” movies starring Swedish Warner Oland as the Chinese detective. Adam Herschman (Accepted) in a bad wig, coke-bottle glasses, fake buck teeth, and an undecipherable accent plays the owner of the wedding chapel our heroes end up in during two trips to Toronto, where gay marriage is not only legal but encouraged. The biggest letdown of the whole film is in a small bit of business where Sandler ends up riffing on Herschman’s inability to pronounce the word “dollars” and does a whole shtick on paying in “doll hairs.” It seemed pretty pitiful considering how well the film was handling everything else.

Look for cameos from out actor Richard Chamberlain (Shogun) as Councilman Banks and out singer Lance Bass as a wedding Band Leader as well as an underused Rachel Dratch (tv’s “30 Rock”) as a Benefits Counselor and David Spade (The Benchwarmers) as a horny party boy with designs on Chuck. Doing slightly better is Dan Aykroyd (Christmas With the Kranks) as Captain Tucker, and the always wonderful actor Ving Rhames (Ascension Day), who doesn’t get nearly enough camera time but does play a pivotal role and gets what has to be the biggest laugh in the movie. I guarantee you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see (and hear) it.

I’m surprised that Universal would release
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry the same weekend as New Line brought out Hairspray. It is like an explosion of gay culture has splashed across the Essex Cinemas all at once. At least that’s what I expected. Surprisingly, the showing of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry I attended, which was filled to near capacity, appeared to be a hetero-chucklefest. As the mother of a gay son, I have almost precision-wired gaydar, so I was on the lookout, hoping to spot rows and rows of gay men in the seats. After all, as I said earlier, I love gay weddings, and as a mother, I’m not getting any younger, Sonny Boy. Hint, hint. But sigh, not a one in sight. Oh well, at least the movie was funny and the popcorn was ~ dare I say it? ~ FABULOUS!!!


Anonymous said...

I notice that you use censorship. You deleted my last comment about this movie....I did not use profanity, insults or any word that threats anybody. Was that true what I said about how you enjoy cheering this piece of pathetic ridiculization of the homosexual people that you cant stand the mirror on your face?...cmon, I almos believed that you was nice or at least objective...now Im changin my mind and deleting your link from my bookmarls so you can self indulge yourself only with the things that please your ego...whatever.

Clamzilla said...

If I believed you had actually seen the movie and weren't just spamming the site like a lot of people do (of all kinds of political views and sellers of products and ideologies) then I'd have left your comment on the board, but you did nothing to address the actual film nor indicate that you lived in the area and had any local interest, so I had no way of knowing of you were a crank or not. Sorry about that. Aside from that, the fact that you were (and are) 'anonymous' also doesn't lend much credibility to a post filled with vitriol and accuasations, especially when they are not true. You call it censorship. I call it my blog. I don't have to put insults from anonymous sources on it if I don't think they are warranted.

The truth be told, if you read many of my entries you'd know that I am one of the most pro-gay people in the world and I went into "Chuck and Larry" with much lower expectations than you can imagine. Maybe that is why I didn't feel it was as wretched as you seem to think it is. At least it attempts to put a mainly heterosexual audience in the position of seeing what it is like being on the receiving end of homophobic coments and behavior, if only for a little while.