The most amazing thing about I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is reading the credits and finding out that Alexander Payne and Barry Fanaro wrote the screenplay together. No, they are not a gay couple who decided to make fun of themselves while doing something a cracked up monkey could do – write a successful Adam Sandler movie. They are, however, two straight, successful screenwriters. Payne wrote and directed the Oscar-nominated Sideways, and the well-rounded Jack Nicholson flick, About Schmidt. Fanaro wrote episodes of The Golden Girls (which he won two Emmys for), as well as the hysterical Farrelly Brothers movie Kingpin. So, my question to them is this: What the hell?
Adam Sandler and Kevin James star as best friends and fellow Brooklyn firefighters, Chuck and Larry. Chuck (Sandler) is a compulsive womanizer and porn addict, while Larry (James) is a widower trying to raise his show tune singing son, Eric (Cole Morgen), and tomboyish daughter, Tori (Shelby Adamowsky). Their friendship, however, is put to the test after a routine safety inspection goes awry and Larry saves his friend's life. Larry’s heroics lead to an almost emotional hospital scene where Chuck says he owes his friend “anything.” Larry calls in this favor big-time after learning that civic red tape prevents him from naming his two children as his primary pension beneficiaries and there are very few ways to get around this. So, he does what any normal man would do – asks his best friend to sign a few papers at City Hall and pose as his “domestic partner.” Everything works beautifully until a fact-checking bureaucrat becomes suspicious and the two straight men are forced to get married and improvise as love-struck newlyweds.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry feels like the writers, Payne and Fanaro, are two homophobic men who researched the movie by going into a men’s locker room, speaking with a lisp while flailing their hands around, and then stripping down to nothing but a jockstrap and whipping each other on the ass with a wet towel to see whose butt cheeks would turn a darker shade of red. This frat-like behavior allows them to come up with lines you can picture any gay couple saying like, “We have tons of man-on-man sex,” “I used to wrestle in high school and I loved it,” or, “When I used to climb the rope in gym class, I wished it was a guy.”
The writers, however, don’t stop there. After “gaying up” Chuck and Larry’s trash with copies of Brokeback Mountain and Barbra Streisand albums, they decide they have to make fun of other people. To make everyone feel more comfortable, they write in some lame fat jokes (Chuck is apparently a “chubby-chaser”), make Ving Rhames a gay black man who’s worried about coming out to his parents, and have Rob Schneider play an Asian chapel owner.
The movie asks for tolerance and acceptance of all people, but the writers don’t seem to like women all that much. The women in Chuck and Larry are desperate and lonely, or gorgeous, brainless nymphomaniacs. The worst role for a woman in the film besides Dr. Honey (Chandra West) or the numerous Hooters girls Chuck takes home with him, is Jessica Biel’s. She plays attorney Alex McDonough, who is basically used as a prop – her butt is on display in tight skirts, and her body is almost fully exposed while dressed as Catwoman during a costume party. Trust me, I am not complaining about looking at Biel, but I can’t imagine anyone thinking this was a great, or funny, role for a woman. Director Dennis Dugan should have just used a blow up doll in her place – it would have been a heck of a lot cheaper and he would have the same result. While the character’s heart seems to be in the right place, she seems anything but lawyer-like - she flirts and goes shopping with Chuck before she allows him to feel her up, and she rarely talks like a lawyer. The script treats her like an upscale hooker – and she’s only upscale because she dresses really nicely and doesn’t seem to charge upfront.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is not devoid of humor. There are some funny moments, such as Rhames’ shower scene where he winds up singing and dancing to “I’m Every Woman,” and the first fire rescue sequence where Chuck and Larry save a 400-pound man who can’t get out of bed. There are also several other chuckles, like the first time Larry’s gay mail carrier tells him he’s “used to holding big packages.” Yes, the joke is childish, but it’s kind of funny – until the joke is used seven other ways, like every other joke in the movie.
The problem with this partnership is the fact that the two sides were never compatible. One side is always sitting at home waiting for the other to arrive home, while the other goes out and parties all night, drinks a bottle or two of Jack Daniels, sleeps with hookers and passes out naked on the couch in the living room that no one is supposed to sit on. It is a partnership that is doomed from the time they say, “I do.”
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is two hours of unfunny, thoughtless stereotypical humor that is too lame to truly become offensive. While low-brow, moronic humor is expected from Adam Sandler, Chuck and Larry is below even his standards – mainly because it lacks the normal wit movies like Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore possess. It’s also below the standards of all the other actors and actresses in the movie, including Dan Akroyd, Steve Buscemi, Nicholas Turturro, Rhames and the numerous Saturday Night Live alum and Sandler regulars who make cameos in this movie. The concept of the movie is funny and has potential, but it’s poorly executed in almost every way.
If you haven’t had enough of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, I now pronounce you officially stupid. I know some of the best parts of Sandler movies are the extras because it shows improvisation and other zany moments from the films production, but this is one instance where you don’t get things both ways. Get it? Both ways? I’m officially better than the screenwriters of this movie.
The special features begin with nine minutes of deleted scenes. You can watch the scenes with or without the commentary of director Dennis Dugan. If you’d like some actual comedy, listen to Dugan explain why he cut scenes like Chuck and Larry fighting in the wedding chapel before their civil union, or when they’re working out at the gym and Sandler brings another few minutes of fat jokes James’ way. There is a little humor in some of the scenes, but not enough to help the movie in any capacity.
“Laughing is Contagious” is a toned-down blooper reel. Normally, there is a brief introduction, maybe a little corny music and raw footage of the characters laughing in the middle of a take. This gag reel, however, is narrated by Sandler and James, and is rather disappointing. There are a few funny moments, like when Sandler farts in the middle of the wedding ceremony, but that is about it. While the actors do look like they’re having a good time, it’s unfortunate all of this enthusiasm and positive energy goes into a script that isn’t worth a late night B-movie.
“I Now Pronounce You Husband and … Husband,” is a behind-the-scenes look of the film with the cast as they reveal their favorite moments of the film. This includes interviews with Sandler, James, Biel, Buscemi, Rhames and Akroyd. I find it surprising that none of the actors selected the actual ending of the film as their favorite scene, because it was certainly mine.
“Look Who Stopped By,” features Sandler and James reflecting on all of the actors, comedians and musicians who stopped by the set for a few minutes to become a part of this troublesome marriage. Some of the cameos featured include Blake Clark, who plays the homeless witness to Chuck and Larry’s wedding; Dave Matthews, who plays a gay women’s clothing store owner with no lines; David Spade; Schneider, ESPN’s Dan Patrick; Robert Smigel, of those SNL TV Fun House cartoons; and Lance Bass, former boy band all-star.
“Stop, Drop and Roll,” is a feature that allows you to join the stars as they explain how the dangerous stunts were performed – all three of them. I understand that Chuck and Larry are firefighters and, for at least a small portion of the movie, fight actual fires. But, do they have to make an entire feature about the stunts? I mean, come on. It’s like making a feature about characters that appear in the deleted scenes. No one cares about them. Another lame feature is “Dugan: The Hands-on Director,” which has interviews with cast members about the director being a “sensitive” man with “a lot of heart.” It shows Dugan sucking up to his actors by going through the same stunts they do, as well as being an all-around nice guy. That’s all well and good, but if he’s so nice, why does his movie suck so much?
The final two extras are commentaries for the film. One features Sandler, James and Dugan, while the other is just Dugan speaking about the movie. If you’re going to watch one of them, I would suggest the one with Sandler and James, this way you won’t be bored out of your mind when Dugan talks about his favorite shots in the film, or what inspired him to shoot certain scenes in certain ways. It’s always funnier to listen to comedians improvise and just speak their mind, except when they’re scripted lines and they’re pretending to be a gay couple.