Note: My buddy Molly wrote this review because I was unable to attend the screening for the movie. Thanks, Molly!
I understand what I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry was getting at. I understand that the movie uses things like stereotypes and homophobic language for the purpose of pointing out that this sort of behavior is bad, but it just doesn’t work. The movie can't decide whether it wants to play up these caricatures for laughs or legitimately try to have a message. In the end, it succeeds at neither.
The premise of the movie is simple (just suspend logic): Chuck and Larry are NYC firefighters. Chuck Levine (Adam Sandler) is the ladies man while Larry (Kevin James) is the devoted father with the deceased wife. Not wanting to deal with his wife's passing, Larry avoids filling out his pension paperwork for too long, thereby missing the window during which he can make his kids, rather than his wife, his next of kin. Obviously, to get around the system, he decides to “marry” Chuck so that if something happened to Larry, Chuck would be the one in charge of making sure the money got to the kids. At no point does it occur to Larry that he and Chuck are literally side-by-side in all the fires, so if something horrible happened to one there's a good chance it would affect both. Just saying.
Chuck and Larry have no intention of ever living together or pretending to be a couple more than on paper, but when city officials become suspicious about their set up, they have to put on a show — very much against their will. Jessica Biel is Alex McDonough, the lawyer Chuck and Larry hire to help them make sure they prove to the officials that they are a legitimate gay couple. Naturally Adam Sandler falls in love with her, complicating things. But you can gather all that from the preview. To hear what I thought about the film just
The movie may be trying to point out homophobic behavior as evil, but there’s still not a single straight male in the movie who doesn’t find it repulsive. In fact, just the suggestion of a homosexual kiss is apparently so sickening that it must result in a manly display of violence. It's both scary and irresponsible to perpetuate the notion that homosexuality needs to be counteracted with violence. Not only that, but there are no homosexual characters who aren't exactly like every other mainstream portrayal of gay men. If having to make all gay characters easy to digest because they're so over the top is the best we can do in terms of fighting homophobia, how far have we come?
After all of those gripes, there are moments that are sweet and moments that are funny. Adam Sandler, misguided as he may have been in this movie, is endearing. However, the fact that one of the main tenants of the movie is that Adam Sandler is this insane ladies man is a bit ridiculous. Adam can play the boyishly handsome heartthrob, but the hunk? That’s a bit of a stretch. Meanwhile, Kevin James has perfected his performance of the lovably inept buffoon. Jessica Biel, though playing a painfully naive character, is mostly harmless. I just wish her character were something more than just a hot body. Dan Akroyd is one of the best — and most underused — characters in the movie, while Rob Schneider, playing the Asian officiant at their wedding is unnecessary and embarrassing to watch. Of course, most of what Schneider does comes off that way, but this is particularly bad.
I would love to say that I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry perfectly towed the line between hilarious and heartwarming. I would love to say that the message spoke loud and clear. I would love to say this, because I truly like all the actors (Schneider notwithstanding). Unfortunately, this movie just left me feeling sad, and not even for the reasons I originally thought. I was sad because even when the filmmakers thought they were conveying a message about homophobia and prejudices, it was glaringly obvious how far we still are from getting it right.