My desire to see I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry was non-existent when the trailers first came out. It looked like a typical Sandler comedy (not that I don’t enjoy watching those) but the added “twist” was that he and Kevin James would fake being gay. It’s not that I was surprised that such a movie as this would exist, especially in today’s world, but the last person I’d look for real tact when handling real-world events and debates on gay marriage is Adam Sandler.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry covers Larry (Kevin James) and Chuck (Adam Sandler) and their life in the FDNY. After Larry lost his wife, he began trying to juggle being a single father of two and ensuring his kids safety should something happen to him on the job. After discovering that the time to switching his pension over his children had lapsed, Larry is frantic to find an alternative method of care for his children. Discovering that the city now permitted benefits to be switched over to those who enter into a “Domestic Partnership,” Larry convinces Chuck to marry him.
At first the film immediately feels like it is going to do nothing else but be against the prospect of gay marriage. Chuck is a hound with women (I guess Sandler wanted to experience this for once, as he often doesn’t have women crawling over him like he does in this film) and freely throws around derogatory remarks about the gay community when Larry first brings up the concept. The film doesn’t make a real turning point until the pair arrive in Canada to actually get married.
I don’t want to say that the film is homophobic, but it takes the approach you’d expect a movie about gay FDNY fire fighters to have. Larry’s eventual calling out of the squad for their petitioning Chuck and Larry’s transfer to another house was probably more uncomfortable to watch that it should have been, but for the most part the film took straight forward approach to the gay issue. In addition we have all our gay male characters, sans a few in the deleted scenes on the DVD, acting in the typical silly portrayal that films over the last ten years have given the gay male (i.e., flamboyant, loving of soaps and singing Streisand songs or something along those lines). Yes, it’s still humorous in its own right but showing all of the men this way, even the Ving Rhames character who at first was introduced as a hard-ass and then turned into a flamboyant male as described above.
By the end of the film the message became overly preachy. The message of tolerance was sprinkled throughout the film but the end scene in the jail when they just blurt out that more research needs to be done for AIDS it felt like an after-school special all the sudden. Yes, the message is important to get out, but it could have been held with a little more subtlety—nowhere in the film did it feel like I was being smacked over the head with a message except at this part.
On top of that, the un-coming-out of Chuck and Larry at the end of the film felt a little too convenient; but, of course, Chuck had to end up with Alex (Jessica Biel) and Larry had to find another woman to be with. But with this type of movie I guess the audience needs a “comfortable” ending, so it wasn’t altogether surprising that this was the outcome.
One of the funnier aspects of the film was the amount of cameos that littered it. From David Spade to Dave Matthews (yes, the musician), we had quite the group of two-line appearances in the film. Undoubtedly seeing random faces pop up was one of the highlights of the film. Not to say the actors didn’t do a fine job themselves; Sandler and James made for plenty of laughs and Jessica Biel’s character, while of the cookie-cutter variety, was handled decently as well.
There are laughs to be had in the film, I won’t deny that. While most of the best bits were from the trailer, there were still quite a few “new” gags that I hadn’t seen prior. One thing’s for sure, like most Sandler films and things James is involved in, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry was entertaining to watch, but it holds no more heart than your typical romantic comedy and doesn’t really say much about the gay community at all…except that they seem to be represented by Nick Swardson on quite a few occasions. Recommended.
Arriving from Universal in a single-disc widescreen edition (also available in HD-DVD/DVD combo and fullscreen DVD), I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry comes with a fair amount of special features and a fine technical transfer. The packaging uses the film’s original theatrical one-sheet and features an easy-to-navigate menu system.
Video and audio for the film is what you’d expect in this day and age. Crystal clear picture, minimal compression and a solid transfer throughout, I didn’t notice a single issue with the video. The same can be said for the audio which, except for the firefighting scenes, we get a 5.1 track that is front-channel focused. Full surround kicks in when there’s a fiery blaze on screen, but past that there isn’t much to be heard from the satellites.
Moving onto the extras we actually get a few more than Universal originally announced for this title. First up are the typical featurettes which take a very short look into the making of the film. One of the extras focus on the directors involvement in everything, including setting himself up for the stunts his actors go through, as well as a featurette on the stunts themselves. For the most part the behind-the-scenes footage and making-of type extras are the typical fare with cast and crew interviews, although we hear mainly from Kevin James and Adam Sandler throughout…not so much from anyone else.
There is a fair amount of deleted scenes and alternate takes to be had here and while most are not worth viewing, there is a scene at the big party where Larry goes to the bathroom. In the film the bathroom’s empty and he just goes to the bathroom, but in this deleted scene a cavalcade of party goers enter the bathroom and Larry becomes nervous. The one stand-out aspect of this is that the men here don’t act in a flamboyant way as the rest of the gay men in the film do. Here they simply act…normal. Shocking!
Outtakes for the film are made up of Sandler and James laughing at them as they watch the scenes they just shot on the monitors. While it’s contagious to see them laughing, I noticed those around them sat in their chairs with nothing more than a smirk. There aren’t really many outtakes to be seen here and it actually contains some cast interviews here as well, so it’s not a full-blown “outtake” reel. An extra about the many cameos in the film wrap up, commented on by Sandler and James and sprinkled with cast interviews, wraps up the featurettes.
Finally we have…what’s this? A pair of commentaries!? I didn’t even know this DVD had commentary until I popped the disc in. Sure enough we get a lively and entertaining track with Adam Sandler, Kevin James and director Dennis Dugan and it is quite entertaining to listen to. They repeat some of the information from the other extras, but it’s still an entertaining listen. The second commentary is just Dugan and is a much more technical fare; after the track with all three of them on it this one may seem kind of dull but it’s not entirely dry. This isn’t really the type of film that warrants a double commentary, so if you only listen to one go with the Sandler/James/Dugan track—you might find it more entertaining than the film itself.
Overall the DVD portion is a solid package for a decent movie. You won’t find anything shockingly original in either the film or the DVD but not everything has to be new and exciting to be enjoyable. Recommended.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry arrives on DVD and HD-DVD on November 6th.