Andy Bockelman: 'Chuck and Larry' is mildly offensive, yet laughable

— "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" is far from an ideal movie regarding diversity and tolerance, but considering the premise, it could be a lot worse.

Widowed New York firefighter Larry Valentine (Kevin James) has a new concern on top of his already dangerous career: if he gets killed in the line of duty, his pension benefits will not pass on to his children.

He learns that the simplest way to appoint a new beneficiary is to get married. Uneasy about getting involved with another woman after his wife's death, Larry calls in a favor from his best friend Chuck Levine (Adam Sandler), a fellow fireman who owes his life to Larry's quick actions.

Chuck begrudgingly agrees to a domestic partnership (on paper only) so that he can take care of Larry's kids if the worst should come to pass. The administrator who checks in on them to confirm the relationship is highly suspicious, so the pair hires a lawyer (Jessica Biel) to handle the case that the benefits office threatens to bring about.

She agrees to help them, believing them to be a legitimate couple, but as she becomes further involved in their lives, Chuck's attraction to her threatens to blow the whole deal.

James and Sandler make for believable buddies, as a concerned father and a good-natured playboy, respectively. Larry is a much more likable character altogether, however, as Chuck starts out as an outright misogynist.

Biel is okay as lawyer Alex McDonough, although hardly more than eye candy for the most part.

Sandler's usual crew of lesser-known pals appear in bit parts, including Allen Covert, Peter Dante, Nick Swardson and Jonathan Loughran, but filling out the larger roles are Steve Buscemi, Dan Aykroyd, Ving Rhames and - unsurprisingly - playing the film's most bizarre character is Rob Schneider.

Although "Chuck and Larry" initially appears to be just a crude one-joke flick, it does attempt to be somewhat of a message movie. Negative stereotypes of all kinds abound, but rather than just accepting these as truths, the story confronts them.

The unfortunate part of this is director Dennis Dugan bites off more than he can chew. Working with Sandler on films such as "Happy Gilmore" and "Big Daddy," Dugan has hardly proven himself an ingenue.

In his latest fare, homophobia gets a good blast, but the movie is more concerned with getting laughs rather than trying to follow through on the theme of open-mindedness.

Sure to make even the biggest "Three's Company" fans blush, "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" is mildly offensive, yet its good intentions make it more enjoyable.

At the very least, it should entertain devotees of the two stars, or possibly someone who notes a distinct similarity between the rear ends of Jessica Biel and David Spade.

The movie is currently playing at the West Theathre.

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