Starring: Kevin James, Adam Sandler, Jessica Biel
Director: Dennis Dugan
Running Time: 115 mins
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Lary is an American film about two best friends who pretend to be a gay couple in order to reap the financial benefits from the city’s domestic partnership programme, but face suspicion from the authorities.
Adam Sandler and Kevin James. Not always the greatest recipe for comedic brilliance, but I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry isn’t quite as bad as you’d expect. Although it’s by no means as funny or intelligent as it thinks it is, and opens with one an abhorrently irritating first act, it does salvage itself with a fairly heartfelt and nice central message about equality and respect for the gay community, something that I really didn’t expect to see from a film like this.
We’ll get into that in a bit, because we have to start off by saying that there’s still no getting away from the fact that this is and Adam Sandler movie through and through. Of course, it’s by no means as awful as some of his most shrill and infuriating atrocities (Jack And Jill, That’s My Boy and the rest), but you shouldn’t be going into this movie expecting any sort of intelligent or original comedy, instead a constant slew of messy, juvenile and often mean-spirited humour that just doesn’t do much to make you laugh.
There are a couple of gags along the way that are a bit lighter and nicer, and Kevin James’ more down-to-earth and likable performance works well to keep you entertained throughout, but whenever the spotlight is on Sandler, and his still inexplicably endless desire to appear in films as an insane, womanising player (and still face no comeuppance in the end), it’s just painful, and every time that he tries to play up his character’s more cartoonish aspects, I just felt beyond irritated.
If you’ve seen any Adam Sandler movies before, then you’ll know what sort of comedy I’m talking about. Juvenile, unintelligent and predictable at every moment, this film really isn’t as funny as it thinks it is, something that makes it a rather annoying watch, particularly in its opening act when there is absolutely nothing else to the story beyond its farcical nature, unfortunately leaving the awful comedy as the only thing left to entertain you.
However, not all is awful in this film. For one, I was very hesitant at the beginning upon realising the film’s premise, Adam Sandler and Kevin James pretending to be a gay couple so they can reap the financial benefits from the city government. At first, it appeared to be a premise open to a pandora’s box of offensive and ill-judged humour, but I have to say that the way the film shines a spotlight on the gay community is actually one of the best things about it.
Is it a sensitive tribute to gay rights? Absolutely not. However, when the film decides to switch its focus from the farcical central story to actually shining a light on prejudice against gay men, it actually makes for an interesting and, dare I say it, somewhat touching watch. Unexpectedly then, when the film strays into more dramatic territory for its final act, and brings this theme to the centre of attention, it proves a far more engaging watch than any of the attempts at comedy earlier on, with even Adam Sandler himself dialling back his performance to make for a more emotional and down-to-earth turn that fits in well with the central theme.
Overall, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry is unfortunately cursed with the eternal problems that only Adam Sandler films can bring. Its opening act is painfully unfunny, and often proves even worse with borderline offensive comedy, but the film manages to turn things around later on by bringing a more serious and dramatic heart to proceedings, something that grabbed my attention far more than any of the humour throughout, and that’s why I’m giving this film a 7.1.