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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

After my first viewing of the trailer for "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry," with its rampant homophobia and the sheer presence of Adam Sandler ("Punch Drunk Love" notwithstanding), I knew it was going to be a film to avoid. When it turned out to be my only viable choice at a movie theater one night, I knew deep within my soul that I was going to hate it and write a scathing review.

Much to my surprise, the movie, which came out to rent or own Tuesday, was not as bad as I expected. But not surprisingly, it wasn't particularly good, either.

"Chuck and Larry" tells the story of Larry, a widower who marries his best friend and fellow New York City firefighter, Chuck, in order to be able to transfer his pension to his kids if he dies in the line of duty. High jinks ensue when the two struggle with their homophobia as they pretend to fool everyone into thinking they're gay.

What starts out as your typical story of feigning homosexuality for the sake of insurance fraud soon turns into a story of friendship and acceptance, with as few laughs as possible.

Adam Sandler as an "actor" hardly works in roles where he's playing a real person and not a degenerate man-child. Consequently, when playing ladies' man/firefighter Chuck, he comes off like a punk kid who's pretending to be serious in front of the principal. Kevin James, on the other hand, fares better as Larry, having had loads of practice playing a fairly normal guy on his sitcom, "King of Queens." He comes far closer to being sympathetic and likeable than his counterpart.

The worst part of "Chuck and Larry" is the lack of humor. Most of the laughs either come from comedian Nick Swardson, who plays a hyperactive gay man and the little brother of endangering love interest Jessica Biel, or from a hilarious extended cameo by Ving Rhames. Somehow, the small roles and cameos from other (mostly comedic) actors end up being funnier than the two stars themselves, though "Daily Show" alum Rob Corddry is criminally misused. While James can seem genuinely funny despite unfunny material, Sandler, for the most part, fails at being even remotely entertaining - something he's supposedly known for. When a David Spade cameo is funnier than the whole movie, you're in trouble.

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