I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY is another self-indulgent, unfunny wallow in what Adam Sandler thinks is funny. From the first fart joke (10 minutes in) to the second fart joke (11 minutes in), to the self-congratulatory deus ex machina ending that is supposed to redeem the previous excruciating two hours, it is a non-stop goof that manages to be offensive to everything and everyone with the ill-fortune to be on screen. Women, Asians, gay people (of course), garden produce, the medical profession, postal workers, the homeless, the grieving process, the waitresses at Hooters, traditional Jewish music, and a list far too long to relive here.
The premise had so much promise. Two Brooklyn firefighters, the titular Chuck (Sandler) and Larry (Kevin James) get married in order to make sure that Larry’s motherless kids will get his death benefits in case something happens to him on the job. How he got into this mess isn’t important. He did and this is the logical if unconventional solution. It’s also not the perfect solution, because a city official (Steve Buscemi) smells a rat, a straight rat, and goes all out to prove that Chuck and Larry are really just friends, and hence, guilty of defrauding the taxpayers of New York.
The question is why Sandler even bothers with a premise. Whatever the putative storyline, his antics are as predictable as flies on cow patties and even more odorous. With a smirk and a slam, verbal, physical, or both, he tries to pass himself off as a good guy with a puckish sensibility. He comes off as a mean-spirited narcissist for whom the world is a stage and everyone on it a prop for his next gag. James, so good in HITCH, doesn’t seem to realize his prop status. He gives the part everything he’s got with a good slow burn and a better sense of timing. In a better world, it would have paid off. Instead, he’s Sandler’s punching bag, literally and metaphorically, taking the hits that inspire not laughter or even mild amusement, but rather shock and sympathy through the cringing. It’s just as bad for Jessica Biel as the lawyer tasked with proving Chuck and Larry are a legitimate couple. Her character consists of wearing very tight clothes very well while not noticing that Chuck is salivating for her, as well as giving her a below-the-buckle salute. As for Buscemi, usually so reliable, he trots out his trademark twitches and ticks, but they lack his usual verve, élan, or even heart.
The grist for the cinematic mill, how the guys react to being perceived as gay and what they do about it, gets lost in the muddle and then plays out with such obvious clichés that watching it is as painful as any smack to the head Chuck delivers to Larry with a sadistic regularity. Guys terrified to have dropped the soap in the communal shower when Chuck and Larry are there? Please. The subplot about Larry’s concern over his son being into sequins, musicals, and baking is not cultivated enough along the way for there to be any sort of payoff. And the running joke about Chuck sitting in the kids’ chairs and breaking them verges, but never quite achieves, the dada-esque.
The only thing I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY does achieve is a place on the list of worst flicks of 2007.