August 02, 2007

Chuck and Larry Get Hitched, to a Myriad of Stereotypes

Having seen Adam Sandler's work on Saturday Night Live for so many years, I didn't anticipate he could break through and become a legitimate, bankable movie star the way he has, trumping the SNL curse that claimed other would-be actors like Rob Schneider, Chris Kattan, David Spade, Chris Farley, and others in this era. But with mega-hits like Waterboy, 50 First Dates, Happy Gilmore, and more, Sandler's movies have become must-sees pretty much every summer. This year's offering, "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry", where he is forced into a fake domestic partnership with Kevin James of King of Queens' fame, to collect on domestic partner benefits from the pair's fire department, is, like the other films on his resume, quite silly at times, and forgettable at others.

The film, following the firefighter's "code", stresses that the department will stick together as one, and that one firefighter, having saved the life of another, will forever be in the other's debt. That the overweight Larry finds himself in a bureaucratic loophole, concerned about the long-term support for his two children, should he leave this world prematurely, forces him into the unlikely pairing with Chuck, a swinging gigolo most famous for being "Mr. February" on a pinup calendar.

From there, the movie pushes through just about every predictable worn-out sterotype of the gay lifestyle. The love of Boy George, Wham and the Village People, the focus on an unrelenting libido and constant sex, and even a "dramatic" scene when one of the pair's colleagues drops the soap in a communal shower. That, combined with the occasional words that only a despicable soul like Ann Coulter can drop with ease, made the movie a bit annoying, getting me to roll me eyes between amusing scenes.

The film, despite having been reportedly previewed by gay advocacy groups before its release, doesn't do the community many favors, in my opinion, making it seem that those who are gay are more like the eccentrics marching in a Castro Street parade, and less like the millions who blend into typical society every day. That Sandler and James eventually find themselves as serious gay rights advocates and see themselves undergo typical discrimination from their co-workers is good, as is Sandler's repeated mantra of what's a good word to use (gay) and what's not (rhymes with Bob Saget), but it's almost lacquered on top of the continued teasing and overdone innuendo.

Sandler and James play their parts well, but aren't a convincing couple, looking like a transparent fraud, and they don't exactly get away with their slight of the rules, but they do expose both the issues with the bureaucracy and the pension process, while championing for gay rights, getting two birds hit with one stone. And it is funny. Not as funny as The Simpsons Movie was, but pretty good.

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