I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

You’ve gotta wonder about Kevin James. A couple years ago, he practically stole the show by planting a kiss on Will Smith in the date flick “Hitch.” Now he’s in another big budget comedy ready to lock lips with Adam Sandler. Maybe his hit TV show “King of Queens” had a double meaning.

Watching James dance around make-out scenes with Sandler isn’t necessarily on my short list of things to see before I die, but it didn’t stop me from finding a lot of funny moments in “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.”

The film tells the story of Brooklyn firefighter Larry Valentine (James) who discovers that his pension is in jeopardy because he failed to file the proper paperwork after his wife passed away. In order to ensure the money goes to his kids in the event of his death, he hatches a scheme to keep things straight, so to speak.

Larry convinces his best bud, ladies man Chuck Levine (Sandler), to pose as his gay husband. They think they have things locked up until the city begins an investigation on their relationship to make sure it’s real. Chuck and Larry begrudgingly carry on pretenses as a gay couple while Chuck falls in love with their lawyer, the beautiful but easily duped Alex McDonough (Jessica Biel).

Director Dennis Dugan has a rocky history of unfunny comedies, such as “National Security” and “Saving Silverman.” However, he has managed to open up a can of laughs before with last year’s “The Benchwarmers” and the Adam Sandler classic “Happy Gilmore.” In this film, he gives us a similar serving, nothing spectacular but funny enough for Friday night escapism.

“I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” should make you laugh. It’s not consistently funny throughout, and like some of Sandler’s previous works like “Anger Management,” some of the funny moments from the trailer don’t take you by surprise any more. However, there are still plenty of moments to chuckle outside of these scenes.

One of the strengths of this film, like many comedies, isn’t necessarily the leading cast. Yes, Sandler and James are funny, but it’s the supporting cast and bit parts that really shine. Dan Aykroyd is hilarious as Chuck and Larry’s captain. Steve Buscemi is brilliant in the small part of the city fraud investigator. SNL’s Rachel Dratch has a creepy yet memorable scene early on. However, it’s Nick Swardson and Ving Rhames who really steal the show in their uncomfortably revealing roles.

biel2.jpgBut no critique of this film would be complete without a nod to the gorgeous Jessica Biel. I know it’s pandering to drop a hottie like Biel, including an eye-popping scene of her in only bra and panties, into a movie that is inevitably going to leave macho men cringing at times. She’s more than eye candy here. She’s represents a comfort zone for all the sexually insecure men watching the movie. After all, even the most fervent homophobe is going to take solace in watching Biel amidst Sandler and James almost kissing and David Spade squirming through a cameo in a bunny outfit.

“I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” isn’t perfect by far. Too many scenes fizzle out with stale jokes and bad punch lines. However, when the movie is funny, it is hilarious. And, while it takes on the issues of gay rights, it avoids a preachy tone, which is refreshing to see in a movie nowadays.

Still, you have to realize this film doesn’t treat these issues tenderly. It’s an Adam Sandler movie after all. Expect plenty of crass jokes and low-brow humor. And the gay community might take offense considering the fact that homosexuality is the punch line for the film. But as a gay rights film aimed at homophobic heterosexuals, it will probably reach more people than “Brokeback Mountain” ever did.

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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