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I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry

Kevin James and Adam Sandler in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 1 out of 5

IT SEEMS hard to believe but somewhere along the way Alexander Payne – of Sideways and About Schmidt fame – got involved in the screenplay for I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry.

Quite how much of his input remains is difficult to know given that the film is a low-brow comedy that often falls victim to the very same errors in judgement that it tries to condemn.

Larry (Kevin James) is a recently widowed New York firefighter whose financial affairs are in disarray. The easiest way to solve them is to get married again but with no bride in sight he enlists the help of best buddy Chuck (Adam Sandler) for a same-sex union.

When the authorities question the validity of the marriage, however, Chuck and Larry must prove their “love” for each other with the help of a beautiful gay rights lawyer (Jessica Biel) – and quickly find themselves battling homophobia on many different fronts.

Dennis Dugan’s film would have us believe that it’s a funny message movie with plenty of heart but instead winds up being almost as offensive as the people it’s trying to shame. Anti-gay jokes fly thick and fast early on, while other stabs at humour are often crude and in bad taste.

The opening fire rescue sets the standard by placing Chuck and Larry in a burning building with a hideously obese man to rescue – and then having them do so amid a flurry of fat jibes and fart gags that really do carry a stale odour.

Thereafter, it’s a procession of stereotypical characters and obvious humour along the way to a contrived and predictable conclusion.

Sandler, once again, frustrates in comedy guise and threatens to undermine the excellent work he does in films like Punch-Drunk Love and Reign Over Me, even though he does share an easygoing chemistry with James.

But for every brief moment that raises a chuckle, there are heaps more that don’t and the film proceeds to waste the talents of just about everyone involved – including Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames and Dan Aykroyd.

A romantic sub-plot involving Biel’s lawyer is nicely played but seems to have been inserted to give red-blooded males the chance to ogle the actress in various states of undress and to reassure Sandler fans that he really isn’t gay. And the touchy feely ending fails to compensate for the crudeness of what’s come before and is sickly-sweet even by Hollywood standards.

In the end, Chuck & Larry is likely to offend more people than it inspires and should therefore be left in the closet, far away from sight.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 110mins