I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry. Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and Jessica Biel star in a film written by Barry Fanaro, Alexander Payne, and Jim Taylor and directed by Dennis Dugan.
I am not one to be overly sensitive to comedies that exploit stereotypes for humorous effect. The supposed irreverence and offensiveness of contemporary movies does not upset me. But there is something so base and crass about much of what passes for humor in the latest Adam Sandler vehicle, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, that it is virtually guaranteed to offend everyone, gay or straight, at some point during its two-hour running time. What is most offensive about the film, however, is just how unfunny it is.
Chuck & Larry is about Brooklyn firemen Chuck (Sandler) and Larry (Kevin James, of the interminable sitcom King of Queens) who file a domestic partnership so that widower Larry’s children can receive his pension benefits if something happens to him. Aside from the fact that the premise of the film makes absolutely no sense, the idea of two straight men attempting to pass as a gay couple isn’t the worst idea for a comedy in history. But inverting a premise that was already tired when The Birdcage appeared in 1996 isn’t exactly revolutionary, either. Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor (the strikingly talented team who penned Sidewaysand About Schmidt) are given screenplay credit here for a much earlier (and presumably much more hilarious) draft of the film. What we’re left with is a half-interesting structure and premise filled to the brim with the lowest of low-brow humor.
Adam Sandler is a more interesting fellow than he is often given credit-his work on Saturday Night Live is revelatory, as was his performance in P.T. Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love. Lately, his comedies have drifted into the low-brow, high-concept department as evidenced by last year’s Click and now Chuck & Larry. Cameos from David Spade, Robert Smigel, and Steve Buscemi fail to produce even a chuckle, although a bizarre turn by Dave Matthews as a flamboyantly gay clerk at a clothing store is enough to hold one’s attention for about 60 seconds. All in all, Chuck & Larry seems like a desperate holdover from an era before Jackass, Borat, and Knocked Up pushed the boundaries of contemporary comedy.