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September 24, 2017

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I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry(當我們假ㄍㄟˋ在一起)

The first gag in the Adam Sandler gay marriage comedy "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" features the comedian's womanizing firefighter trying to convince two sexy twin sisters to kiss each other. ("Use your tongues," he advises.) The next so-called laugh involves a bedridden obese man trapped in a blazing house, unable to get to his feet because of his own weight. ("I haven't walked in five years," he explains.) That extended sequence ends with the big guy passing wind in Sandler's face, which somehow gets buried in the guy's crotch. (Let's not even go there.)

Hot lesbian jokes, incest innuendo and fart punchlines —the first 10 minutes just about covers the entire range of this witless, brainless and gutless cheap shot of a comedy disguised as topical, thought-provoking material. For variation, "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" finds time to let costar Jessica Biel flash her well-rounded breasts (she assures us "they're real") and put Rob Schneider in a bad wig, thick glasses and buckteeth as a Japanese-Canadian ordained minister who specializes in non-traditional nuptials. (Is it the fact that he's Japanese or Canadian that's supposed to be funny?)

A groan-inducing opening act explains how Sandler's Chuck Levine and Kevin James's Larry Valentine, in the words of the latter character, "boarded the dude train." The upshot is that in order to make sure that widower Larry's future pension payments go to his preadolescent kids, he has to re-marry. Since he doesn't want to betray the memory of his late wife, he asks Chuck to agree to a same-sex union and a shared living arrangement to fool the authorities. It's just for show, Larry notes. "Paper f—ts?" Chuck skeptically asks.

Both men are firefighters and revel in exaggerated macho behavior, so their assumed identities make them uncomfortable in their own skin. Chuck, in particular, doesn't want the gay label to stick because he's got a good thing going with the ladies as Mr. February on a calendar of firemen.

Meanwhile, in the firehouse, the guys (played by, among others, Dan Aykroyd, Nicholas Turturro and Ving Rhames) have different reactions to Chuck and Larry's relationship, ranging from cautious sympathy to outright hostility. For his part, a city fraud inspector (Steve Buscemi) views the set-up as illegitimate and starts snooping around.

To work out the legal kinks, the couple hires Biel's lawyer, the gender-ambiguously named Alex McDonough. Of course Alex and Chuck bond over shopping sprees and girl talk. All the while, Chuck wants to jump Alex's bones — but he can't without blowing his cover.

Summarizing "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry's" story makes it seem far more coherent than it actually is. The picture plays out in episodic jerks as a series of gags, most of them relying on tired stereotypes. Storylines disappear or wrap up perfunctorily. To give just one example: We get the obligatory revelation near the end of the second act, where Alex discovers Chuck's real identity as a womanizer, but then the picture skips the mandatory scenes where Chuck works his way back into Alex's heart.

Sandler's character comes closest to having anything near a character arc, from insensitive sexist pig to sentimental man —but the actor, not very expressive to begin with, appears downright morose here, mumbling his way through the part.

James does the same cuddly teddy bear routine that served him well in "Hitch," but he has nothing else — like a character — to fall back on once he actually has to act.

Sandler and James are likeable enough, but "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" does nothing with an admittedly funny premise of having two straight guys pretending they're a gay couple.

The best comedies push boundaries and make us laugh partly as a defense mechanism. This picture's idea of edgy is to have real-life boyband singer Lance Bass and TV star Richard Chamerlain, both famous celebrities who have come out of the closet, appear in cameos.

Worst of all, "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" tries to have it both ways by first throwing out the incendiary f-word (the one that has six letters in it and ends in a "t") and then by getting self-righteous on us in one of the most pathetic courtroom showdowns since Sandler's "Big Daddy" legal cop-out of an ending. To paraphrase "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry's" pat message of tolerance, it doesn't matter if you're straight, gay or ambidextrous — nothing here will get you off.

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