Now, I’m not a big Adam Sandler fan. I don’t rush out to see his latest movies because, outside of Punch Drunk Love and possibly The Wedding Singer, he hasn’t really done any really good movies. And, I guess, even with this one, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, that continues. Now, it’s not a bad movie, it’s just one that I found a bit distasteful and, sometimes, not all that funny. Like I said, I’m not a big Sandler fan (and that right there is likely knocking over any credibility I may have to do this review), but the premise seemed interesting enough to grab my interest. While the movie may not exactly be my cup of tea, it does deliver on some laughs and actually provide a good message.
Chuck Levine (Adam Sandler) and Larry Valentine (Kevin James) are the pride of their fire station: two guy’s guys always side by side and willing to do anything for each other. Salt-of-the-earth widower Larry wants just one thing: to protect his family. His buddy Chuck also wants one thing: to enjoy the single life. Grateful Chuck owes Larry for saving his life in a fire, and Larry calls in that favor big time when civic red tape prevents him from naming his own two kids as his life insurance beneficiaries. All that Chuck has to do is claim to be Larry’s domestic partner on some city forms. Easy. Nobody will ever know. But when an overzealous, spot-checking bureaucrat becomes suspicious, the new couple’s arrangement becomes a citywide issue and goes from confidential to front-page news. Forced to improvise as love-struck newlyweds, Chuck and Larry must now fumble through a hilarious charade of domestic bliss under one roof. After surviving their mandatory honeymoon and dodging the threat of exposure, the well-intentioned con men discover that sticking together in your time of need is what truly makes a family.
Now, the premise seemed somewhat funny and the trailer stuck with me, regardless of the stereotypes on display and whatnot. The final product itself is a bit of a mixed bag. There are funny moments, to be sure, and the movie does play out predictably to the very end, but the ride itself is pretty interesting. Infact, what anchors the movie and makes it watchable is Kevin James. His dilemma, his need to make sure his family is secure and insured, is both relatable and even a bit moving. Adam Sandler, however, is pretty annoying as the man-whore of the fire station. His pompous nature and overall jerkiness is downplayed in the trailer, and it’s completely overbearing here in the movie.
Speaking of the whole jerkiness thing, I have to say, I hate the word “faggot,” and I hate how many damn times it was thrown around in the movie. Sandler says it more times than I can count. I will admit there was one instance where the delivery was actually funny, courtesy of Rob Cordrey, but I just dislike that slur. And there were a couple moments where said slur just pulled me out of the movie. It’s even a favorite word of Sandler’s character for a while, until the tables are turned, which, itself, is actually satisfying. Just a pet peeve of mine, nothing more, but to those sensitive to that word, you may want to be cautious when viewing the movie.
Anyways, enough of that, but how is the movie? Well, overall, I’d have to say it’s a pretty average Adam Sandler movie. The concept is actually above his usual comedies and you can actually see that on screen. Some of the jokes are wittier and the actual commentary on society actually lands right on the nose – particularly the hypocritical viewpoints that officials take on homosexuals and heterosexuals. Sadly, the movie tends to fall apart at the end as everyone gets exactly what they were looking for in the end (though, and this may be me overlooking it, but did they ever mention what happened to the whole pension situation with James’s character?). We get the big speech, the clapping crowds, all of that. Of course, a couple gay-themed twists are thrown in and, overall, they elicit a bigger laugh than they probably should. At the end, when the credits roll, the comedy is completely forgettable and the story rather on-the-par and not all that exciting. It’s an average comedy that I think people will like, not love.
It’s a shame that this movie ends up being so average, and even a bit indecisive on the topic at hand, gay unions, because this movie had the potential to reach a big audience on this matter. Instead, it ends up peddling water for the most part. Sure, both sides of the argument are heard in here, but the movie just stalls at the end and seems to waste any potential it had to really make a definitive stance, opting for the easy way out. Disappointing but not unexpected.
The bonus features are much like the main feature, average but enjoyable for the time you sit down and watch, but lacking in rewatchability. The disc features deleted scenes with optional commentary by the director, outtakes, a behind-the-scenes with the cast, a look at the cameos in the movie (and there were quite a few), a look at the stunt work, a look at the director of the movie, and a commentary for the film itself. I will admit, it does look like there’s a rather substantial amount of extras here, but, sadly, the content is what you’d find on most discs. A good effort, though. The audio and video is worth mentioning, as both are solid and, once again, show that standard DVD can still deliver on their transfers.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry is definitely worth a Rental, but nothing more. While the concept is interesting, Sandler takes the usual approach to the material and makes this an average affair. While there are some really hilarious moments, they are not as plentiful as one would think. The DVD has a nice array of extras for fans of the main feature, but will bore those who aren’t a big fan of either Sandler or James. Despite all that, Sandler and James make a great comedy duo, and their chemistry really shows throughout the feature. Still, they need better material to rise above this average movie. It’s worth checking out once, maybe twice, and that’s it.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry is now available on DVD and HD-DVD.