Adam Sandler is at it again. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry has Sandler and "King of Queens" star Kevin James as two straight men playing the married gay couple life, but the results aren't nearly as funny as you'd expect.
James plays Larry, a firefighter who has come to the realization that if he dies, his pension will not go to his motherless children. To get around a flawed system where he cannot name them as a beneficiary, he legally "marries" his best friend Chuck (Sandler). The only problem - they are both completely straight. Actually, there are other problems, too. The pension committee has decided to investigate their marriage to determine they aren't being fraudulent, their lawyer is smoking hot Jessica Biel, and they must face discrimination from their buddies at the firehouse, religious nuts on the street and more.
Chuck and Larry is essentially what you'd expect from a Sandler movie in terms of plot - instead of a hockey player playing golf or an adult idiot forced to repeat grade school, it's about two straight guys posing as gay guys. The only problem is that it really isn't funny, or at least not in a good way. I have been a fan of Sandler movies in the past, so I'm not one of those anti-Sandler critics - Happy Gilmore is one of my all-time favorite comedies - but Chuck and Larry just botches it. It's not that there aren't plenty of laughs; it's just that the movie is clearly scraping the bottom of the barrel to piece together a full movie. The movie does have some good gags, but it is so inconsistent, cheesy and ludicrous that it is hard to get into the film.
Chuck and Larry would have worked so much better had it tried to keep things simple and had not been written by three guys who apparently have never met a real gay guy, which is quite strange for a Hollywood production. It gets bogged down with a third act devoted to a courtroom trial, and whenever stupid comedies end up in a courtroom, you know you're in for some absolutely cheesy legal mumbo jumbo that would never happen in real life, and will usually conclude with some group standing up for the falsely accused (in this case, they should go to prison for fraud) to the point where the judicial system decides to turn its blind eye. That was a bit of a run-on sentence, but you get the point.
Even worse is the fact that Chuck and Larry are so bad at pretending to be gay that it makes a mockery of the other characters in the movie, and the audience. When these two guys are trying to prove that their gay, whether it's to a sleazy investigator (who really isn't that sleazy) played by Steve Buscemi or Ms. Biel, they do such a bad job that any sensible person could see right through their charade. Instead, for the convenience of the story, these seemingly intelligent people disregard all of the signs that they are being had. Worse, to us the audience, we have to accept the dumbest and most cliche stereotypes about gays to force ourselves through the movie. Had Chuck and Larry done a little more homework and shifted the story from an impending trial to the two men researching how to be gay, we could have had even funnier moments in a more plausible environment. Basically, it was rather annoying that the movie didn't show a single non-flaming gay person. If I were gay, I'd be offended.
Also, it probably doesn't help that I don't find Kevin James very funny.
All that being said, Chuck and Larry does have enough laughs to pull you through its overly long 110 minute running time. The third act definitely begins to fall apart, but there are enough routines for the first 50 minutes that you can enjoy yourself somewhat. There are a fair amount of cameos that work, especially one near the end involving a certain gay singer. If you like other goofy Sandler movies, you'll find Chuck and Larry okay, but this one is a big notch down from his best work. Unlike his other films, I would not want to watch this one again.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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