Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 23 November 2008
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry
Las Vegas Round The Clock - http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
Prepared to dislike this film for its insulting male premise, I was surprisingly put off by virtually every female in it. The only one with a brain is dead, and the rest are horrifyingly unprofessional and stereotypically hypersexual. In fact every woman on screen must be objectified, insulted, ogled or in some way mocked.
Because it is a Happy Madison production, Executive Producer Adam Sandler gets to fashion himself as a player and ladies man extraordinaire, one who can get twins, Hooters girls and scores of other vacant females to pursue him. Now this might happen for Adam Sandler. It would never happen for his character, the crude, sexist Chuck Levine.
By contrast, Larry Valentine (Kevin James) plays his role with heart and devotion, simultaneously sincere and fraudulent. His young son Eric (Cole Morgan) is shall we say, flamboyant. His daughter Tori (Shelby Adamowski) is precocious and observant. He needs a new beneficiary for the kids. He is after all a firefighter in NYC, with a heroic past and a lonely future. His harebrained scheme to make Chuck his domestic partner will secure his pension for his kids. He could die any old day as a firefighter, and a fluky clause in the insurance rules precludes a change of beneficiary any other way. Larry is inspired. So were the writers it seems. Let’s do it! We can use every gay stereotype to our advantage, then pull back and slap everyone on the wrist for being so insensitive.
Chuck moves from his lascivious bachelor pad into Larry’s home to make the relationship look legitimate. Their housekeeper Teresa (Mary Pat Gleason) is a battleaxe of a woman who falls for Chuck (who doesn’t?) in her Slavic wrestler kind of way. The kids ask no questions. Realism seems inconvenient here; better to just be rid of it for the duration of the film.
Plagued by paranoia over their ruse, the boys hire attorney Alex McDonough (Jessica Biel) for advice. Biel’s attorney becomes merely T & A, dizzy with no judgment and inappropriate fraternization with clients. A literal pussy (in costume) at a gay fundraiser, she will wear a pair of eyeglasses when she wants to appear intellectual or serious, which is a comedy routine in itself. It can’t make up for the tight clothes and stupid bimbo maneuvers. She conveniently has a gay brother, Kevin (Nick Swardson) who is one screaming flamer, useful for illustrating and perpetrating homosexual stereotypes of every kind. Chuck is visually hot for her (he hides it with a well-placed sweater) but the sharp attorney has no inkling. Ain’t that just like them there women-folk! Cavemen will be appeased – anyone with a brain will find the scene excruciating.
Clinton Fitzer (Steve Buscemi) is a slinking insurance investigator who will root through garbage cans and spy on the pair to see if they’re legitimate. He pronounces Chuck and Larry “not gay enough.”
Meanwhile, on the hetero side of town, Chuck and Larry’s FDNY colleagues keep their distance and circulate a petition to split them up shift-wise. Dan Aykroyd as Captain P. Tucker (get it?) has an inkling about the two, but is a reluctant advocate.
Rob Schneider makes an uncredited cameo as the Asian minister of a quickie wedding chapel in Canada. He gives a humorous but insulting performance, with his buck-tooth, thick eyeglasses caricature (reversing his L’s and R’s in speech is soooo original).
Adam Sandler’s Happy Gilmore Production Company is responsible for this self-indulgent, sexist, homophobic mess of a film. There are some pleasant moments mostly delivered by the very likeable Kevin James when he’s concerned about his kids or worried about his seemingly inevitable and eventual incarceration. There are attempts to show the real gay hate-mongers in assorted mob scenes (the fundraiser, the courthouse) that take the focus off of the writers and producers of the film – the real perpetrators.
Director Dennis Dugan and writers Barry Fanaro, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor (can you believe two of them wrote Sideways?) have a field day with the frat boy humor, slapping a bandage of PC preaching into the mix in a last minute effort to cover all bases.
FDNY colleague Duncan (Ving Rhames), in a daring departure from his usual badass roles gives a campy performance of epic proportions, including a nude shower scene (incorporating dropped soap and frightened co-workers). There’s no gay stereotype left unexplored or exploited for a cheap, low class laugh. The casting of macho Rhames is surprising; everything else is predictable.
Adam Sandler should thank his lucky stars that he was the boss on this one. How else would Chuck get to be an irresistible hunk of a calendar pinup? How else can reality be ignored in scene after scene, whether it panders to gay bashers or supporters? A marvelous taste of dramatic talent in Punch Drunk Love, Sandler seems more comfortable sliding down into the ooze of low brow muck than trying for a valid message.
You can imagine the ending if you realize that formula plots require punishment for infractions. There are cameos of famous out-of-closet stars Richard Chamberlain and Lance Bass, because of course that legitimizes all of the outrageous suppositions and slurs that are allowed to flourish until the very end of the film.
You may want to pronounce Chuck and Larry a no show on your summer must-see list.