Image courtesy of impawards.com
Adam Sandler……….Chuck Levine
Kevin James……….Larry Valentine
Jessica Biel……….Alex McDonough
Dan Aykroyd……….Captain Tucker
Steve Buscemi……….Clinton Fitzer
Nicholas Turturro……….Renaldo Pinera
Rachel Dratch……….Benefits Supervisor
Richard Chamberlain……….Councilman Banks
Nick Swardson……….Kevin McDonough
Blake Clark……….Crazy Homeless Man
Mary Pat Gleason……….Teresa
Matt Winston……….Glen Aldrich
Given the subject matter and the two leads, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry could have been disastrous. Detractors of the film will remain set in their ways for both reasons. Joking about homosexuality is still a touchy area of comedy, and the previews did make I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry look to be a celebration of homophobia. Incidentally, sexual orientation becomes more of a garnish to a fairly decent story about platonic love between two friends.
However, the fact that those two friends are Adam Sandler and Kevin James still makes the film a tough sell. Sandler is not known for his subtlety or maturity and James’ shtick is hit-or-miss. With their powers combined, they could badly butcher any subject and horribly offend given the right topic. This was their chance to fail.
It is a pleasure to inform that they did not. Oddly, Sandler’s bizarre humor and ever-growing posse coupled with James’ self-deprecating sentimentalism prove a strong concoction. In fact, it would not be unfair to say that Sandler and James have a better chemistry than many recent heterosexual movie pairings.
But don’t go throwing a parade just yet; I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry won’t be breaking any social barriers or putting a mirror up to American culture in any significant way. Still, at least it handles a wide variety of hot button sub-issues under the gay rights umbrella with a deft and gentle sensibility. Though, as a Sandler movie the comedy train has to hit all the usual stops, all of which lend themselves to certain contrivances that, while expected and somewhat welcome, are derivative and obnoxious nonetheless.
Most notably, there is the beyond impossible love angle between Sandler’s Chuck and Jessica Biel’s defense lawyer, Alex. If Chuck and Larry convince her they are gay in the first place, just imagine how much back-peddling it would take to even begin to make things square with her again. A sticky situation that should be further compounded given that she has a gay brother, “Butterfly” (the always delightful, Nick Swardson). To say that Chuck and Alex getting together would stretch credibility would be putting it mildly.
Luckily, at that point credibility had already left to be a part of some other movie. But the absence of all things plausible greatly services the movie in its own way. Sandler, more than anyone else involved with the film, knows that things need to remain light and silly so that everyone can stay in on the joke. In that way, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is a true crowd pleaser. As is always the case in Sandler movies, the entire cast is obviously having fun and not taking things too seriously, so why should we?
Perhaps that is where the film shows the most strides of progress: it treats its topic with such blind acceptance that its own non-chalance puts the audience at ease. It suggests that gay humor ought to be so commonplace that people should not even bat an eye at it, let alone cause a big commotion over the political correctness of it. More movies would be wise to follow I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry‘s flippant approach. It feels good to get caught up in the breeziness of the whole affair, and if viewers gain a little perspective along the way, all the better.
FINAL SCORE (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):