Written by: Barry Fanaro, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Jessica Biel, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, Dan Aykroyd
Representation of struggles of the LGBTQ+ community in Hollywood has quite a number of swings, which has pretty much mirrored modern society and the progress made there. At times these representations can be ahead of the curve, but in the case of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, its seemingly good intentions get horrifically drowned out by its tone-deafness to an almost sickening degree.
Having not updated his beneficiaries since the passing of his wife, Larry (Kevin James) risks having his children not receive benefits should he die on the job as a firefighter. To get around this, he asks his best friend, Chuck (Adam Sandler) to enter into a civil union with him in order to inherit the benefits and care for his children should the time come. This comes under scrutiny from investigators as they become integral in the battle for gay marriage.
Wowee, you can definitely see the good intentions this film wanted to communicate about general acceptance of those wanting to simply be married to the person they love. Something that only recently was made legal nationwide and in a time prior to this general acceptance, this film truly sought to be a story of this acceptance. Yes, the intentions may be nice, but my goodness they certainly fumbled the bag through most of its storytelling and being incredibly offensive, as a result. It becomes such a shocking viewing experience because some massive disconnect occurs here from the general pitch to the production of the movie.
Let’s begin with the absurd idea that Larry would not be able to change his beneficiaries to his children simply because of a deadline to change it following the death of his wife. A piece of clerical stupidity that does not hold weight, but apparently serves as a piece of scrutiny for people to look into the union between Chuck and Larry. At the very least pick something believable as to why these two heterosexual men would need to get married. This only serves as the tip of the iceberg, seeing as this film’s venom and horrid jokes at the expense of the gay community completely dismantles whatever positive force this story wanted to create.
The number of times homophobic slurs were just happily thrown out in this feature along with completely harmful stereotypes for the purpose of laughs only gets more shocking with the thought of this film actually trying to be an ally in its support of the union by Chuck and Larry. I mean, not much can be expected from an Adam Sandler film directed by Dennis Dugan. You just have to look at their collaborations over the years and comprehend the standard we’re working with here, but it just gets worse the farther the story goes along. You have moments where Chuck, who needs to do plenty of learning, will stand up for the gay friends he makes, but then will turn around and make a homophobic joke. There’s even a scene where the pastor marrying the two puts his two index fingers together insinuating the gay sex that will occur between the two men. Simply childish and remedial level of humor on display here, which makes all of its instances of trying to be a game-changer incredibly hollow.
On top of everything else you have this heterosexual couple being the representative of a watershed moment in gay marriage where even when they get discovered to be frauds, they still are beloved as if this whole arrangement does not in all reality do much more damage than help the situation. Essentially a sick joke, which only gets worse where you have the feelings Chuck has for their lawyer, Alex (Jessica Biel). Seeing as she believes Chuck is gay, she allows herself to be put in compromising situations with Chuck under false pretenses as we laugh while he ogles her. Really bottom-of-the-barrel nonsense here.
The supreme disconnect existent in this feature truly boggles the mind in the way a story could not only be offensive but do it under the guise of fighting for acceptance. The only way I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry fits the mold comes in the plot synopsis seeing as everything else serves as a complete contradiction of the message it believes it wants to convey. While writing this review, a level of shock and disbelief remains and it assuredly will never go away as long as I continue to think about this movie, so let’s just all agree to stop doing that.