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STUDIO: Universal Studios
RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes
• Deleted scenes with optional director’s commentary
• Laughing is Contagious
• I Now Pronounce You Husband…and Husband?
• Look Who Stopped By
• Stop Drop & Roll
• Dugan: The Hands-On Director
• Commentary with Dennis Dugan, Adam Sandler and Kevin James
and commentary with Dennis Dugan
Backdraft takes on a whole new meaning…
Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Jessica Biel, Dan Aykroyd, Ving Rhames, Nicholas Turturro, Steve Buscemi, Rob Schneider.
"Ann Coulter just set herself on fire. Shouldn’t we put her out?"
"You’re kidding, right?"
When New York firefighter Larry Valentine (James) inadvertently lets his life insurance benefits lapse after the death of his wife, he’s suddenly faced with the prospect of his kids being left destitute if he should suddenly die on the job. So after saving the life of best friend and fellow firefighter, Chuck Levine (Sandler), Larry takes Chuck up on his offer of returning any favor that Larry might need at any time. He convinces Chuck – a legendary womanizer – to pose as a gay couple with Larry in order to take advantage of New York beneficiary laws for gays. Chuck goes along with it and they both discover that being a falsely gay duo is a lot more trying than just public opinion against them: if the state catches on to their scheme, they could both go to jail. So after enlisting the legal advice of lawyer Alex McDonough (Biel), Chuck and Larry have to keep up the charade long enough to pass the state’s scrutiny, which is made even more difficult when their co-workers learn of their new status and Chuck starts to develop feelings for Alex that he can’t act upon.
"That sting you’re feelin’, Adam…that ain’t pride…"
Surprising as it was to me, Chuck & Larry was quite a bit better than I thought it would be, specifically because I hadn’t seen an Adam Sandler movie in several years that I could honestly say I liked. I kind of tuned out to him after Little Nicky and haven’t really looked back since. I’ve heard that he stepped up his game recently with Reign Over Me, and he’s likeable in Chuck & Larry, a very paint-by-numbers, fell-good buddy comedy. I’ve also liked Kevin James’s work in King of Queens as wishy washy but loveable delivery man, Doug Heffernan. But that’s kind of the problem with Larry Valentine: he is Doug Heffernan. Swap out Heffernan’s wife Carrie for two kids and make him a fireman instead of a delivery guy, and this movie is in fact, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Doug. More on that later.
"You realize if we were gay we could create some bitchin’ cereal together…"
With Chuck & Larry you pretty much get exactly what you would expect: a heart-warming buddy film where two straight guys are going to go through the gay experience and make lighthearted use of every situational gay joke possible, including a tense soap-dropping shower scene with their firefighter buddies. And you don’t need to have seen the previews to know that one of them, in this case Chuck, is going to fall for a ridiculously hot female character, in this case Biel’s Alex, that he can’t pursue because of his situation. And you also know that eventually everyone’s going to find out about Chuck and Larry’s ruse, which is going to cause all sorts of (hopefully funny) headaches for the two. To say nothing of Chuck and Larry, particularly Chuck, gaining a new understanding of what it’s like to be homosexuals and how they were ignorant in their previous denigrations to gays.
Self Gay Check #1: Noooo…not the least little bit I’m thinking…
Nevertheless, Chuck & Larry delivers on the expected things and makes it watchable. Sandler and James have a fun chemistry and play well off of each other. You can really believe that these two friends are devoted to each other, although they’re not devoted to each other. There aren’t that many outright laughter-inducing moments, but there’s some light moments that keep the film afloat, as when early on, Chuck and Larry have to rescue a morbidly obese man from a burning building by hauling him out of bed World’s Strongest Man-style and end up tumbling with him down some steps and Chuck landing with the man’s you know what right in his face. There’s also a maddening scene where Biel, who’s treating Sandler like her newest girlfriend, saunters over to him in bra and undies and commands him to feel her boobs to prove that they’re real. If you’re not wanting to kill Sandler for being given this gift by God instead of you then you’re not a man. At least not a straight man.
Self Gay Check #2: Still not gay, but have discovered a new love of cats…
Getting back to James as Larry, his portrayal is straight (no pun intended) out of King of Queens, right down to both being Mets fans. Hell, James’ co-star (oh and on another note, James’ real-life brother), Gary Valentine, is in on the action in Chuck & Larry and was also a regular on King of Queens. If you watched that show and watched this movie, you’ll notice it as surely as you will Jessica Biel’s lusciousness. Also making appearances is frequent Sandler running buddy Rob Schneider doing his best Mr. Yunioshi as the gay Asian wedding chapel preacher. If Schneider wasn’t Eurasian, that might be deemed a racial stereotype in a movie about debunking gay stereotypes. Ironic, no? Anyway, Dan Aykroyd also makes an appearance portraying the usual Aykroyd fasdt talking cameo character as Chuck and Larry’s boss. I love Aykroyd and I wish he’d get back to doing movies where his considerable talents are more in the forefront rather than just a quirky minor character. Steve Buscemi makes an appearance for a reason I can’t fathom and Ving Rhames and Nicholas Turturro round out the cast as fellow firemen, with Blake Clark making a cameo appearance as a crazy drunk man. Richard Chamberlain also is in the picture, and if I hadn’t seen it in IMDB, I never would have realized it.
Self Gay Check #3: NOPE, DEFINITELY NOT *head explodes*
Chuck & Larry also makes use of the kid factor, with Shelby Adamowsky as Larry’s oh-so-adorable daughter, Tori and Cole Morgan as Larry’s effeminate, tap-dancing, splits-doing, musical-theatre-loving son, Eric. Morgan is actually pretty enjoyable in a role I would otherwise dislike. He makes good use of the splits in one scene when he goes all Johnny Cage on a bully that’s pretty funny. If you have low expectations and realize the kind of movie you’re in for going into Chuck & Larry, then you’ll get everything you anticipated, plus a little more. If you go in hoping that Chuck & Larry are going to break new ground in comedy, you’ll probably be more than a ittle disappointed. Nevertheless, I found it to be a harmless and somewhat funny bit of comedy that handled a touchy subject pretty deftly and made it entertaining.
"Wait a second, I can’t marry you two."
"Why because we’re gay?"
"No, because you’re Jewish…"
There’s several features on this single disc set, the first being deleted scenes with optional director’s commentary that total about ten minutes. There are also a few features hosted by Sandler and James: Laughing is Contagious, which shows the frequent breakdowns on the set and runs about seven minutes, I Now Pronounce You Husband…and Husband?, which is a standard behind-the-scenes and interview featurette with the major stars. There’s also Look Who Stopped By, which is a spotlight on the cameos by Blake Clark, Rob Schneider, Allen Covert, Dave Matthews, David Spade, Dan Patrick, Richard Chamberlain, Robert Smigel, Lance Bass and Peter Dante that totals about seven minutes. Stop Drop & Roll concerns Sandler and James "doing their own stunts" and clocking in at five minutes; and Dugan: The Hands-On Director is about director Dugan’s antics on the set, also running about five minutes. Finally, there are two commentaries, one by Dugan, Sandler and James and one by Dugan alone.
"Uh Adam, the scene ended five hours ago…"