I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry

I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (also simply known as Chuck & Larry) is a 2007 American buddy comedy film directed by Dennis Dugan. It stars Adam Sandler and Kevin James as the title characters Chuck Levine and Larry Valentine, respectively, two New York City firefighters who pretend to be a gay couple in order to ensure one of their children can receive healthcare; however, things worsen when an agent decides to verify their story. Released in the United States on July 20, 2007, as Sandler's first role in a Universal Pictures film since Bulletproof in 1996, it grossed $187.1 million against an $85 million budget, but received generally negative reviews from critics.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDennis Dugan
Screenplay by
Based onA treatment
by Lew Gallo
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyDean Semler
Edited byJeff Gourson
Music byRupert Gregson-Williams
Production
companies
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release dates
  • July 12, 2007 (2007-07-12) (Universal City)
  • July 20, 2007 (2007-07-20) (United States)
Running time
115 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$85 million[2]
Box office$187.1 million[2]

Plot edit

Veteran New York City firefighters Chuck Levine, a womanizing bachelor, and Larry Valentine, a widowed father, are the pride of their Brooklyn firehouse, Engine 506/Ladder 223. During a sweep of a burned building, a segment of floor collapses on Chuck, but after Larry rescues him from the debris, Chuck vows to repay him however possible. Experiencing an epiphany from the incident, Larry tries to increase his life insurance policy but discovers that a lapse in the paperwork after his wife Paula's death 1 year earlier prevents him from naming his children, Eric and Tori, as primary beneficiaries. The insurance company representative suggests that Larry find a new spouse that he can name as his beneficiary.

Inspired by a newspaper article about domestic partnerships, Larry asks Chuck to enter a civil union with him. Initially hesitant, Chuck is reminded of his debt to Larry and finally agrees, entering a domestic partnership and becoming Larry's primary beneficiary should he die. However, investigators arrive to inquire about their abrupt partnership, suspecting fraud, and so the duo decides to enlist the help of lawyer Alex McDonough, who suggests they have a formal wedding ceremony to prove their commitment. The pair travel to Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada for a quick same-sex marriage at a wedding chapel, and Chuck moves in with Larry and his children.

Alex invites the couple to a gay benefit costume party. At the end of the evening, homophobic protesters confront the partygoers. Chuck is provoked into punching their leader, and the local news picks up the incident. With their apparent homosexuality and marriage revealed, Chuck and Larry are heckled, their fellow FDNY firefighters abandon them, and their captain, Phineas J. Tucker, aware of the truth, refuses to protect them. Their only ally is Fred G. Duncan, an angry, intimidating firefighter who surprises Chuck by admitting he has not felt comfortable disclosing his homosexuality.

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. During an intimate talk about relationships, the two spontaneously kiss, but Alex, still believing Chuck is gay and married, is shocked and immediately distances herself from Chuck. Meanwhile, city agent Clinton Fitzer arrives to investigate the couple, and the strain on both Larry and Chuck results in a verbal fight. Larry asserts that Chuck's constant absence to spend time with Alex is jeopardizing their ability to maintain the ruse of their relationship, and Chuck responds by instructing Larry to move on from Paula's death. Later that evening, a petition circulates to have Chuck and Larry thrown out of the firehouse. Upon discovering it, Larry confronts the crew about personal embarrassments on the job that Chuck and Larry helped them overcome. Afterwards, Chuck and Larry reconcile with each other.

Eventually, numerous women publicly testify to having recently slept with Chuck, and the couple is called into court to defend their marriage against charges of fraud, with Alex as their attorney. Their fellow firefighters arrive in support, having realized all that the pair have done for them over the years. Fitzer interrogates both men, and eventually demands they kiss to prove that their relationship is physical. Before they do so, Captain Tucker arrives and exposes their marriage as a sham and both men as straight. He emphasizes that the situation reminded people not to be judgmental, and then offers to be arrested as well, since he knew about the false relationship but failed to report it, which prompts the other firefighters to show solidarity by claiming a role in the wedding. The firefighters are quickly released from jail after negotiating a deal to provide photos for an AIDS research benefit calendar, provided that Chuck and Larry plead guilty to fraud, which would reduce the charges to a misdemeanor and allow the duo to keep their benefits.

Two months later, Fred and Alex's brother, Kevin, are married in Niagara Falls at the same chapel as Chuck and Larry. At the wedding party (which features musical guest Lance Bass), Larry moves on from Paula's death and talks to a new woman, while Alex agrees to a dance with Chuck.

Cast edit

Production edit

Producer Tom Shadyac had planned this film as early as 1999. I Now Pronounce You Joe and Benny, as the film was then titled, was announced as starring Nicolas Cage and Will Smith with Shadyac directing. In the official trailer, the song "Grace Kelly" by British pop star Mika was included.[4]

Release edit

Critical response edit

Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports a 14% approval rating based on 166 reviews, with an average rating of 3.80/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Whether by way of inept comedy or tasteless stereotypes, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry falters on both levels."[5] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 37 out of 100 based on 33 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[6] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[7]

USA Today called it "a movie that gives marriage, homosexuality, friendship, firefighters, children and nearly everything else a bad name."[8] The Wall Street Journal called it "an insult to gays, straights, men, women, children, African-Americans, Asians, pastors, mailmen, insurance adjusters, firemen, doctors -- and fans of show music."[9]

The New York Post called it not an insult to homosexuality but to comedy itself.[10] The Miami Herald was slightly less critical, calling the film "funny in the juvenile, crass way we expect."[11]

Nathan Lee from the Village Voice wrote a positive review, praising the film for being "tremendously savvy in its stupid way" and "as eloquent as Brokeback Mountain, and even more radical."[12] Controversial critic Armond White championed the film as "a modern classic" for its "ultimate moral lesson—that sexuality has absolutely nothing to do with who Chuck and Larry are as people".[13]

Box office edit

Chuck & Larry grossed $34,233,750 and ranked #1 at the domestic box office in its opening weekend, higher than the other opening wide release that weekend, Hairspray, and the previous weekend's #1 film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.[14] By the end of its run, the film had grossed $120,059,556 domestically and $66,012,658 internationally for a worldwide total of $186,072,214.[2]

Social responses and controversy edit

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".[15]

According to Alexander Payne, the writer of an initial draft of the film, Sandler took many liberties with his screenplay, "Sandler-izing" the film, in his own words. At some point, he did not want his name attached to the project.[16][17]

A review from AfterElton criticized the character played by Rob Schneider for using yellowface, comparing the performance to Mickey Rooney's infamous role as I. Y. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's.[18]

In November 2007, the producers of the Australian film Strange Bedfellows initiated legal action against Universal Studios for copyright violation.[19] Strange Bedfellows was released three years before. In comparison, the films have 100 similar plot points. Both movie plots deal with two firemen, who pretend to be a gay couple for financial reasons, are investigated, and then have to deal with the situation with their friends and community. The suit was withdrawn in April 2008 after the producers of Strange Bedfellows received an early draft of Chuck & Larry that predated their film, and they were satisfied that they had not been plagiarized.[20]

In January 2020, a member of Chicago's city council cited the film during an argument over a city plan to set aside contracts for gay- and transgender-owned businesses. Alderman Walter Burnett said, "I think about that movie about the two firemen where they were faking like they were gay… to get benefits. That's a concern of mine. How do you distinguish that?"[21]

Home media edit

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 6, 2007.

Accolades edit

The film received eight Golden Raspberry Award nominations including Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Adam Sandler), Worst Supporting Actor (both Kevin James and Rob Schneider), Worst Supporting Actress (Jessica Biel), Worst Director (Dennis Dugan), Worst Screenplay and Worst Screen Couple (Adam Sandler with either Kevin James or Jessica Biel), but did not win any.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK & LARRY (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. July 24, 2007. Archived from the original on October 15, 2014. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on May 1, 2012. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  3. ^ Evans, Bradford (July 18, 2013). "Which Movie Has the Most 'SNL' Cast Members In It?". Splitsider. Archived from the original on August 12, 2016. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  4. ^ "I, Nicolas Cage, take thee, Will Smith". The Advocate. Here. May 25, 1999. p. 22. Archived from the original on July 22, 2023. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  5. ^ "I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. July 20, 2007. Archived from the original on November 14, 2020. Retrieved November 26, 2020.
  6. ^ "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry Reviews". Metacritic. Flixster. Archived from the original on April 4, 2017. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  7. ^ Nikki, Finke (July 21, 2007). "FUNNY MEN NO. 1! 'Chuck & Larry' Beat Musical 'Hairspray' And Magical 'Harry'". Deadline. Archived from the original on June 12, 2021. Retrieved April 30, 2022.
  8. ^ Puig, Claudia (July 20, 2007). "'Chuck and Larry': It's a marriage of bad taste, bad gags". USA Today. Archived from the original on April 6, 2010. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  9. ^ Kaufman, Joanne (July 20, 2007). "'Hairspray' Is Campy Fun, but Travolta Is a Drag". Wall St Journal. Archived from the original on June 24, 2017. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  10. ^ Smith, Kyle (July 20, 2007). "'Laughless comedy isn't a gay time'". New York Post. Archived from the original on April 30, 2008. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  11. ^ "Chuck & Larry". The Miami Herald. Retrieved August 1, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Queer as Folk". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on June 2, 2008. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  13. ^ "Bossom Buddies". New York Press. Archived from the original on January 3, 2012. Retrieved July 25, 2007.
  14. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for July 20-22, 2007". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. July 23, 2007. Archived from the original on July 11, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  15. ^ "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry". Entertainment Weekly. July 20, 2007. Archived from the original on October 3, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  16. ^ "A Peek at the Movie 'Chuck & Larry' Could Have Been". Vulture. July 20, 2007. Archived from the original on October 12, 2016. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  17. ^ "Oscars 2012: Alexander Payne on 'The Descendants'". The Telegraph. January 16, 2012. Archived from the original on July 3, 2018. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  18. ^ "Review of "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry"". afterelton.com. Archived from the original on August 26, 2007.
  19. ^ Garry Maddox (November 24, 2007). "Filmmakers take on Hollywood over comedy 'copy'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on March 8, 2021. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  20. ^ Garry Maddox (April 7, 2008). "Strange fluke, not plagiarism - Film - Entertainment". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on April 19, 2017. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  21. ^ "Democrat cites I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry as a reason to oppose LGBTQ measure". LGBTQ Nation. January 15, 2020. Archived from the original on January 15, 2020. Retrieved January 15, 2020.

External links edit