Firemen Fake Being Gay for Benefits in Gender-Bent Romantic Comedy
For years, Brooklyn firefighters Larry Valentine (Kevin James) and Chuck Levine (Adam Sandler) have been best friends, at least on the job, even though they lead very different private lives. Away from work, Chuck behaves like a wanton womanizer with no intentions of ever settling down, while Larry is a grieving widower who’s too concerned about the welfare of his kids, Eric (Cole Morgen) and Tori (Shelby Adamowsky), to start thinking about dating again.
Despite their differences, these buddies are absolutely committed to being there for each other, and Larry proves his loyalty the day he saves his pal’s life during the collapse of a burning building. In return, Chuck promises to return the favor at the first opportunity, unaware how soon that pledge will be tested.
For when bureaucratic red tape prevents Larry from naming his children as the beneficiaries of his life insurance policy, he learns that the snafu could be corrected instantly, if he only were married or had a domestic partner. So, to expedite matters, he asks Chuck to sign a document saying they’re gay life mates, never expecting that a nosy inspector (Steve Buscemi) from the city’s Fraud Detection Department might show up at his house unannounced periodically to make sure they’re not lying. With the prospect of prison hanging over their heads, Chuck grudgingly moves in with Larry, rather than risk going to jail. And it doesn’t help that he has to hide the fact that he’s straight from their knockout of a lawyer (Jessica Biel), since he finds himself falling head-over-heels in love with her.
The ensuing awkwardness and embarrassment over having to pretend to be strange bedfellows probably sounds like a zany enough premise to make for a potentially hilarious sitcom. However, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry is so evilly executed that it deserves to be dismissed as a deliberately meanspirited indulgence in homophobia.
Not only are gays repeatedly referred to by such slurs as “faggots,” “queers,” and “fruits,” but this relentlessly hateful and superficial enterprise seizes on any excuse to link homosexuality with effeminacy and with certain specific tastes and traits, such as an appreciation of show tunes and American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken.
What makes this movie most potentially damaging is Larry’s relationship with his young son whom he suspects to be gay, because the boy prefers the arts to sports. Instead of being supportive, he berates Eric, yelling “Play baseball!” into the child’s ear, as if to suggest that there are no gay athletes and that you can change a person’s sexual orientation simply by shouting at them very loudly. When that doesn’t work, he hands him some heterosexual pornography to look at, now implying that a peek at naked
females could nip any contrary inclinations in the bud.
Furthermore, Eric is teased mercilessly as the butt of degrading double entendres about things like “baton swallowing” and is subjected to threats like “sticking a pole up his ass to turn him into a lollipop.” Nor does the bottom-feeding script pass on any opportunity to trade in infantile plays on words, so “Wedding Bells” becomes “Wedding Balls,” “Till death do us part,” becomes “Till dick do us part,” and “Lollapalooza” becomes “Homopalooza.” When not trashing gays, the film goes after Asians with impunity, by making fun of their thick accents and eyeglasses, and by portraying Asian females as empty-headed sex objects. Adam Sandler and Kevin James ought to be ashamed to be associated with the cinematic equivalent of gay bashing.