I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (PG-13) ★★

Review Date: July 23rd, 2007

Chuck and Larry tries too hard to find the right mixture of Adam Sandler's signature humor and poignancy. In other words, it's only mildly humorous and comes across more preachy than meaningful.


Meet Chuck Levine (Sandler) and Larry Valentine (Kevin James), two devoted--and completely heterosexual--New York firefighters who've had a long career watching each other's backs. So, naturally, when salt-of-the-earth widower Larry has a hard time trying to get the proper life insurance benefits for his two young kids, he asks his best friend a huge favor: to be his domestic partner on paper to get the benefits. No big deal, right? Riiight. Needless to say, the "arrangement" comes under fire when a snippy, spot-checking bureaucrat (Steve Buscemi) becomes suspicious that they are committing fraud. Suddenly, Chuck and Larry are all over the news, much to the chagrin of their firefighting colleagues. They hire a hotshot lawyer (Jessica Biel), who lights Chuck's fire, to look into the case. But Chuck and Larry have to pretend to be love-struck newlyweds in the meantime, fumbling through a charade of domestic bliss under one roof--and along the way, find the meaning of happiness, love, family and all the rest as well.


Adam Sandler is up to his old tricks, and he's dragging Kevin James into it this time. Sandler's usual juvenile, smart-alecky leading man has in turns been endearing (50 First Dates) and hilarious (Happy Gilmore). But in Chuck and Larry, he just grates--creating his own personal la-la land where he gets to play a womanizer who can bed four totally hot women at the same time--and then feel up a scantily clad Jessica Biel. Please. I covet the days Sandler starred in movies like Punch-Drunk Love. James comes off much better than Sandler, as the sweet Larry, a guy having a tough time since his wife died. The actor/comedian has perfected the teddy-bear persona, who's still a little rough around the edges. In fact, if James were the one to hook up with the unbelievably fetching Ms. Biel, you'd totally believe it. For her part, Biel is cute and fun, just like she's supposed to be. Of course, all of Sandler's cronies make appearances, including Rob Schneider as an Asian wedding chapel owner. At least he doesn't say, "You can do it!" Standing out is Ving Rhames, as a badass firefighter who comes out of the closet because of Chuck and Larry's love and shakes his bare tail-feather in more ways than one.


With Chuck and Larry, director Dennis Dugan, a longtime Adam Sandler collaborator (Happy Gilmore; Big Daddy), knows how to create those comedic Sandler set pieces. Take, for example, the scene in which Chuck and Larry have to save a grossly obese man from a burning building, only to watch him tumble down a flight of stairs with the firefighters entangled, landing on top of Chuck and then passing gas. Ah, the farting fat man...I guess, if it floats your boat. There are other more genuinely funny moments in Chuck and Larry, but what a Sandler comedy prides itself most on is that at its core, there is a beating heart. Chuck and Larry certainly has one, making very valid points about homophobia, gay rights and the meaning of true friendship, but somehow, when everyone is going through their own self-realizations in Chuck and Larry's climactic big scene, it feels forced. Oh, well. Chuck and Larry is still a formula that has worked well for Sandler time and time again, bringing him untold millions. Why should he worry if it isn't his best effort?

Bottom Line

Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.