You Chuck & Larry
- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
All photos © Universal Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
dam Sandler fans beware: “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry” isn’t quite the grand return we all had hoped for from the former “Saturday Night Live” star, but it does offer a glimmer of hope that something great is just around the corner. Perhaps it was all that time spent on the set of those lowbrow Rob Schneider flicks, but Sandler has certainly lowered his expectations when it comes to comedy. Then again, a Happy Gilmore production is always better with Sandler in the starring role, and though the formula may be all too familiar, the story remarkably flat, and the jokes taken way too far, “Chuck & Larry” still manages to entertain on a guilty pleasure level.
Chuck Levine (Sandler) and Larry Valentine (Kevin Smith) aren’t only best friends; they’re fellow New York firefighters who’ve been together on the job since they graduated from the academy. Chuck is a self-described man-whore whose biggest chore in life is choosing which gorgeous woman he’s going to sleep with each night, while Larry is a recently widowed father-of-two dealing with some pretty heavy issues. He’s just run into a bit of red tape involving his pension plan, and the only way to ensure his children receive the benefits is to remarry. When Chuck becomes indebted to Larry after being saved by him, he agrees to a faux-domestic partnership with the hope of tricking the city into honoring his friend’s pension.
What begins as a simple plan of forwarding Chuck’s mail to Larry’s address quickly snowballs into a city-run investigation of their relationship. Before you know it, they’re doing everything in their power to convince a by-the-books, fanny pack-wearing private investigator (Steve Buscemi), their super-sexy lawyer (Jessica Biel), and all the guys at the firehouse that they’re really in love. From getting married in Canada to littering their garbage with “gay trash,” Chuck and Larry’s plan depends on the pair making everyone believe that two of the straightest guys in New York are actually gay. Unfortunately, the entire premise of the story relies on the believability of the situation, and though only one character (their chief, played by Dan Aykroyd) is smart enough to recognize the hoax-in-progress, it’s obvious to the audience that these two guys aren’t in any way gay.
It’s good to see Sandler back in the genre that catapulted him to superstardom ten years ago, and Kevin James remains a formidable comic sidekick, but neither do much to warrant special notice. The rest of the principal cast is equally unimpressive. Jessica Biel, despite trying to prove her talents as an actress, is nothing more than the cheesecake of the picture, while Steve Buscemi phones in an uninspired performance as the villain. In fact, the movie’s more impressed with the amount of cameos it was able to wrangle than with the story itself. The usual suspects appear (David Spade, Rob Schneider, Nick Swardson, Blake Clark and Allen Covert), as do fellow “SNL” alum like Aykroyd and Rachel Dratch, but it’s the unexpected appearance of guys like Ving Rhames, Dave Matthews (as a gay clothing store clerk) and Lance Bass (go figure) that ultimately steals the show. Rhames, especially, is certainly a force to be reckoned with. How can you not laugh at a man who, while best known for being the baddest, meanest motherfucker in the room, plays against type as a closet gay fireman? Okay, so we probably could have gone without seeing Rhames' naked ass prancing around the men’s shower room singing “I’m Every Woman,” but it doesn’t make it any less funny.
Of course, if this were to all happen in real life, Chuck and Larry probably would have been smoked out well before they purchased their first Cher CD, but because it’s a movie, I’m willing to suspend disbelief to the point that even a room full of gay guys couldn’t spot a couple macho men at an AIDS benefit party. And as long as you don’t take things too seriously (even though the movie wants to be both a 110-minute long gay joke and a PSA on the fair rights for homosexuals), “Chuck & Larry” has some very funny moments. Sure, some of the running jokes don’t work (including one where Chuck is always labeled the girl in the relationship), and others are taken too far (especially the old don’t-drop-the-soap shower gag), but you’ve got to respect the filmmakers for going balls out with the gay humor. They know what kind of movie they’re making, and they’re not about to play it safe for the sake of a few sensitive moviegoers.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
Yet another title to add to the list of pointless Blu-ray reissues, the single-disc release of "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" is something not even fans should bother with. The HD transfer is average at best, while the only included bonus material is a pair of audio commentaries with director Dennis Dugan and stars Adam Sandler and Kevin James. There is a Blu-ray exclusive "Friendship Test" accessible via U-Control, but oddly enough, it's the kind of thing you'd only ever consider if you were truly lonely.