Monday, July 23, 2007

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007)

Rumors abound that the script for I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007) was floating around for a decade before Adam Sandler picked it up, read it, laughed, and got it made. As more than one pundit has no doubt already addressed, had this movie been made a decade ago it might have succeeded as the agitprop it strives to be. Now, however, it simply is a tired exercise in name-calling.

On the bright side, it revolves around a well-constructed plot device...back here I complained about a brutally pathetic plot device that did not bother to hide its role. In Chuck and Larry the plot device, Larry Valentine (Kevin James) needs to provide for his children and the rules prevent him from doing so. It has all the elements that GOOD plot devices have; believability (albeit you still must suspend a certain amount of belief), purpose, and re usability.

With this plot device we get into the real meat of the movie which is a series of jokes revolving around two straight guys living together as if they are married gays which gets in the way of Chuck Levine's (Adam Sandler) sex life. It is interesting that in these "enlightened" times a man-whore is also a hero...and he is a hero EARLY for A) cheating on one girl with her twin sister, B) convincing the twins to engage in incestual lesbian sex acts (which, conveniently, are prevented from occurring onscreen by the timely ringing of a fire bell; watch for this theme to reoccur), C) getting it on with a half dozen Hooters girls and a doctor whom he gets to "discipline" the Hooters girls with a cane for untying her...which is done off-screen, much to the chagrin of bondage voyeur enthusiasts everywhere.

This is only important because of the role this movie is trying to fulfill as agitprop; how can we take seriously the attempt to complain about the mistreatment of gays when one of the central protagonists is a chauvinistic man-whore who sees girls solely as sex objects? If the film were not attempting to make a social statement then the prurient interest of scantily clad hot bodied women would make a lot more sense. Or perhaps that is the point of having them in there.

That comment needs some explanation. It is no secret that most males who are not active in the social commentary community are hardly going to seek out opportunities to see agitprop over the acceptance of gays in the workplace. On the other hand, the opportunity to see bran and panties clad hotties combined with a significant amount of screen time for Jessica Beal in heels, panties and skimpy bra just might draw them in so screenwriters Barry Fanaro and Alexander Payne can try to get their message across.

And there are some things this movie does very provides plenty of flesh shots of hot girls. Alex McDonough (Jessica Biel) spends the movie in provocative clothes and poses. Early on she is dressed classy in..well, sexier business attire than one would suspect. However, this is trumped by a lengthy scene of her bending over at a ninety degree angle (director Dennis Dugan clearly enjoys the female posterior; he also included a lengthy shot of the Hooters girls bending down to look at the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, their panties struggling to hold their cheeks in), thus showing that no matter how intelligent and professional a woman might be, her real value is eye candy for Levine (and, by extension, the viewer).

It also does a magnificent job of showing a wide variety of caricatured stereotypes. Here is a short list;

- the repressed homosexual who displays repression by being a near-raging maniac likely to go on a killing spree. this role is covered by the talented Ving Rhames playing Duncan, a fierce firefighter referred to by Captain Tucker (Dan Aykroyd) as someone he thought would go on a murderous rampage at any time but who was completely changed into a friendly guy once he came out

- the flaming effeminate who leaps about like a pixie. This role is covered by Kevin McDonough (Nick Swardson). Note the last name of the character...which nicely ties into the next one.

- the crusading lawyer mostly interested in a cause because a relative is a member of the affected party. That would be the aforementioned Alex McDonough.

- the universal refusal to work with a gay person (the entire ladder on which Chuck and Larry work)

- the lunatics who are the only people who could possibly protest the gay lifestyle. This group is portrayed universally as unwashed, unbathed, uneducated, hateful and spiteful with no redeeming features whatsoever.

- the overzealous prosecutor. This role is played by Clinton Fitzer (Steve Buscemi). He is pretty funny and makes something of a nothing role.

There are more but you get the idea. This is a movie filled with stereotypes, caricatures, and over-the-top mockeries. There are some nice cameos...David Spade, Lance Bass, I will let you guess the other main one...

The movie floats along with a series of jokes, feel-good moments and bits of agit-prop dealing with reactions to homosexuality in public. At the climactic moment we find out how the stars, Sandler and James, feel about the courtroom they, as proof of their homosexuality, are supposed to perform a kiss. The approach of their lips...the moment of gay chicken, as it is described on Scrubs, is an endless movie moment. The slow motion approach makes the steamroller in Austin Powers seem like a drag racer. Before they can kiss, however, they are interrupted by Captain Tucker with a statement along the lines of him not being willing to watch 2 straight men kiss. Remember the taboo narrowly avoided when the twins' incestuous lesbian kiss is prevented from actually occurring even though a willingness was demonstrated? Boom, instant replay. Willingness? Sure. Execution? Not so much...

This frees up Levine to hook up with Alex and Valentine to move past his wife's death and hook up. Significantly, for a piece of agit-prop, neither main protagonist ends up in a gay relationship, though several supporting players do. Thus the status quo of being accepting even if it isn't for me message is passed on with both heroes ending up with beautiful women.

Overall the movie had some laughs, some nice moments, but the best parts by far are, tellingly, Biel in a vinyl catsuit and in her underwear. And I guess that sums it up. As porn it is too soft, as agit-prop it is too cautious and too late, as a comedy it is too light on laughs.

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