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I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is a 2007 sex screwball comedy film directed by Dennis Dugan and starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James. The film was released on July 20, 2007 in the U.S.marker, August 16, 2007 in Australia and on September 21, 2007 in the UKmarker and Irelandmarker. This film apparently pays a tribute to the 1940s Abbott and Costello comedy films (most of which were distributed by Universal Studios), with Sandler being in Abbott's role, while James being in Costello's role. The film's premise and plot was very similar to the Blake Edwards film Victor Victoria. Although the film was a critical failure, it was a financial success, ranking #1 at the box office.

Plot

Charles "Chuck" Levine (Sandler) and Lawrence "Larry" Valentine (James) are veteran FDNY fire fighters. Chuck is a bachelor who is living single, while Larry is a widower trying to raise two children, one of whom is somewhat effeminate. This boy, Eric, is a very talented young dancer, who proves to be much tougher than he looks.

During a routine sweep of a burned building, a segment of floor collapses and Chuck almost dies. He is saved by Larry, who shields him from falling debris. As they awaken at a hospital later, Chuck vows to repay his debt in any way possible.

This event prompts Larry to realize the fact that death can come for him at any moment, but he has difficulties naming his children as primary beneficiaries in his life insurance due to the death of his wife. One of the ways suggested for him to do so is to get married. Inspired by a newspaper article about domestic partnerships, Larry asks Chuck to enter a civil union with him. Although at first Chuck declines, he is reminded of his debt to Larry and finally agrees. The two become domestic partners and Chuck becomes Larry's primary beneficiary in the event of his death. Soon, city investigators arrive to inquire about their partnership, suspecting fraud. Larry and Chuck decide to enlist the help of a lawyer, Alex McDonough (Jessica Biel), who suggests that they become married. The pair then marries in Canada and move in together.

At a gay benefit costume party, the partygoers are confronted by anti-gay protestors, the leader, a minister, calls Chuck a "faggot". Chuck punches him, causing the event to be published in a newspaper. With their apparent homosexuality and marriage revealed, the pair come under fire: Larry and his son Eric (Cole Morgen) are heckled, while their fellow FDNY firefighters refuse to work or even play basketball alongside the couple. Their only ally is a surprisingly gay Fred Duncan (Ving Rhames), a newly transferred firefighter who is given a wide berth by the other firefighters due to his intimidating size and demeanor. Eric is harassed in school by a homophobic bully - but the sweet little tap-dancer surprises everybody by easily winning the fight.

Chuck becomes romantically interested in Alex after the two spend time together, but finds himself unable to get close to her because she thinks he is gay. Meanwhile, cynical and hard-nosed city agent Clint Fitzer (Steve Buscemi) arrives to investigate the couple. The strain on both Larry and Chuck leads to a fight, but they quickly make up.

The marriage soon comes under fire, however, as numerous women provide testimonies as to having slept with Chuck in the recent past, and the couple is called into court to defend their marriage on charges of fraud. They are defended by Alex, and their fellow firefighters arrive in support. Fitzer interrogates both men, but the pair shows a remarkable understanding and love of each other despite not actually being gay or in love. As his final demand, he asks for the pair to kiss to prove that their relationship is physical, but before they do so, they are interrupted by Captain Tucker (Dan Aykroyd), who finally reveals that their marriage is a sham and that they are both straight. Tucker attempts to save them by claiming that he would have to be arrested as well, since he knew about the fakery but failed to report it. This prompts the other firefighters to each claim a role in the wedding in a show of solidarity.

Unfortunately, with these revelations, the pair, along with all their fellow firefighters, are sent to prison, but they are quickly released after negotiating a deal to provide photos for an AIDS research benefit calendar. Two months later, Duncan and Alex's brother, Kevin McDonough (Nick Swardson) are married in Canada at the same chapel as Larry and Chuck were. At the wedding party, Larry finally moves on after the death of his wife and talks to a new woman, while Alex reluctantly agrees to a dance with Chuck. Eric shows off his excellent dance moves at the wedding.

Cast



MPAA rating

The MPAA initially rated the film R for "some crude sexual humor and nudity". Universal appealed the rating, but it was upheld. Upon losing the appeal, Universal edited the film: this version was rated PG-13 for "crude sexual content throughout, nudity, language and drug references".

Home video release

The film was released on both DVD and HD DVD Combo Format on November 6, 2007.

Critical reaction

The film received mostly negative reviews. On the film review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 13% critic rating from 149 reviews, with a 12% Cream of the Crop rating based on reviews from major news outlets.

The film was ranked the #1 "worst" film of the year according to Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum. She writes, "I now pronounce this a witless, squeamish message comedy about two straight men pretending to be gay. Adam Sandler gets his knickers in a twist straining to be at once unexpectedly homo-friendly and typically hetero-jokey. Unclench, buddy." The magazine also rated the film a 'C-' upon its release.

Newsday's John Anderson said in his review, "What were they thinking? Simple: They weren't." David Ansen of Newsweek said, "There is something to be said for a movie that may end up preaching gay propaganda. If only the laughs were bigger, smarter, and more frequent than they are." Manohla Dargis of The New York Times wrote, "Sporadically funny, casually sexist, blithely racist and about as visually sophisticated as parking-garage surveillance video." Variety's Brian Lowry dubbed the film "relentlessly juvenile and awash in stereotypes." The film received eight Razzie nominations, including Worst Picture, but did not win any.

Some critics praised the movie, including New York Pressmarker critic Armond White, who called the film "a modern classic" that "goes beyond sitcom gimmickry: first, by cleverly satirizing the human rights fiasco of government bureaucracy, then by lambasting homophobia through bold and cleansing humor."

Box office performance

The film grossed $34,233,750 in its opening weekend in 3,495 theaters, an average of $9,795 per theater and managed to gross a total of $119.6 million domestically.

As of December 2007, the film has grossed approximately $184,866,019 worldwide.

Response from social groups

The film was screened prior to release for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). GLAAD representative Damon Romine told Entertainment Weekly magazine: "The movie has some of the expected stereotypes, but in its own disarming way, it's a call for equality and respect".

Controversy

According to Alexander Payne, the writer of an initial draft of the movie, Sandler took many liberties with his screenplay, "sandlerizing" the movie, in his own words. At some point, he didn't want his name attached to the project.

Critics have also said the character played by Rob Schneider is a racist depiction of Asian men, labeling his portrayal as yellowface, despite Schneider's Filipino heritage.

In November 2007, the producers of Australian movie Strange Bedfellows initiated legal action against Universal Pictures for copyright violation.

References

External links




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