‘I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry’ movie review: comedy divorced from reality

An uncomfortable viewing experience, Dennis Dugan´s I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry barrages us with ethnic and sexist stereotypes while attempting to deliver a pandering, PC-friendly, acceptance-for-all message, culminating in an embarrassing Adam Sandler courtroom speech on why we shouldn´t use the word “faggot”.

Scripted by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor – yeah, that´s right, the duo behind ElectionAbout Schmidt, and Sideways – with rewrites by “Golden Girls” producer and scribe Barry Fanaro. Somehow, I don´t think the final product is what Payne and Taylor had intended.

Impossibly contrived premise leaves fireman Larry Valentine (Kevin James) without an heir; his two kids would do, but apparently he forgot to fill out the proper paperwork after the death of his wife, despite mailed reminders, which would leave his kids penniless in the event of his death (I didn´t buy this premise in House of Sand and Fog, and I´m certainly not gonna buy it here).

The solution: marry best bud Chuck Levine (Sandler) and apply for domestic partnership benefits. Uh-huh. Soon, their partnership is being investigated, and Chuck´s attraction to lawyer Jessica Biel further complicates matters.

At some point during the film, I wondered where all the jokes were; unfortunately, I began to realize that these uneasy stereotypes were the jokes.

And not just the gay ones, which include Larry´s tap-dancing son and a bizarre don´t-drop-the-soap shower scene; no, we´re also treated to a variety of unnecessary sexist and fat jokes, and Rob Schneider´s entirely offensive Chinese minister, the likes of which I wish I could say haven´t been seen since the days of Charlie Chan, but unfortunately Eddie Murphy´s Norbit was only a few months ago.

James is likable if bland, Sandler miscast as a ladies´ man, Biel given little to do. It´s left to the supporting cast to provide laughs, and while some succeed (Dan Aykroyd, Ving Rhames, and Richard Chamberlain in a late cameo), others are cringeworthy (Schneider, David Spade), and poor Steve Buscemi looks embarrassed in an unplayable role.

Competently made, and I suppose this may appease the unthinking masses; for the rest of us, however, it´s just shameful.


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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