I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY (2007)
Featuring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Jessica Biel, Dan Aykroyd, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, Rob Schneider, Cole Morgan, Nicholas Turturro, Nick Swardson, Allen Covert, Rachel Dratch, Richard Chamberlain, Lance Bass, Dave Matthews and Dan Patrick.
Screenplay by Barry Fanaro, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor.
Directed by Dennis Dugan.
Distributed by Universal Pictures. 116 minutes. Rated PG-13.
Dear Dennis Dugan:
Longtime fan here. Really! I know you’re not exactly a household name, but I’ve been following you since you played the lead in the sadly short-lived Rockford Files spin-off Richie Brockelman: Private Eye. (By the way, what are the chances they’re going to release that forgotten gem on DVD? It seems like every other series is coming out. Ask around and get back to me…)
I’ve been thinking – maybe you should consider making a big comeback as an actor.
After all you won an Emmy for your clever masked avenger character on Hill Street Blues. You also shook up the already loose Rockford. Hell, as a kid I even enjoyed Unidentified Flying Oddball, your space-age comic rip on “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” You also had nice supporting roles in an eccentric series of 70s movies including Harry and Walter Go To New York and Norman, Is That You?
Recently, I watched – for the first time in about two decades – your first appearance on Rockford Files in the special two-part episode which introduced Richie. You were light on your feet, funny, hitting on all cylinders. I think you need to get back to that place.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why go back to light television acting? In the last twenty or so years you have been toiling to create a lucrative career as a movie director. And, yes, you have gotten to the point where you get gigs regularly and have worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood.
But it’s just not working, dude…
As a director, you have been responsible for some of the lamest, weakest comedies to ever shame the multiplexes. Hell, let’s not even limit it to comedies (because, let’s face it, most of them are not at all funny). You have made some of the lamest, weakest films ever. They are not even “good” bad like an old Ed Wood movie. Your problem is not ineptitude per se, you have the basic skills down. Your movies are just tired and tiring.
Let’s take a quick look at your body of work. It started with the gawd-awful John Ritter comedy Problem Child. That was enough to kill most nascent careers, but you have followed it up with the chuckle-free likes of Saving Silverman, Beverly Hills Ninja, National Security and The Benchwarmers. And apparently you have become Adam Sandler’s go-to director – which should give you an idea of where you are in the Hollywood pecking order. You have brought out the worst in the terminally unfunny Sandler in Happy Gilmore and Big Daddy.
Your latest collaboration with Sandler, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, proudly lives down to your worst comic moments.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is a movie which claims to try to be championing gay rights, and yet it spends a good 90% of the running time trading in offensive stereotypes and ignorance. That’s not to say the film is homophobic, though – it is also actively offensive to New Yorkers, African Americans, Asians, Canadians, firemen, doctors, lawyers, cab drivers, the homeless, postal workers, women with boob jobs, religious fundamentalists, men, women, children and any other group it fixes its lecherous gaze upon.
Now, it’s true, you didn’t write the film – we can’t blame all that on you. And yet these things seem to keep popping up in your oeuvre – it can’t all be a coincidence. Also, offensive and tasteless can still be done in interesting ways to make it funny. However, despite the quote-unquote “edginess” of the humor, it is mostly weak and toothless. Like the time when the Asian justice of the peace (played by that noted Asian actor Rob Schneider) says that an eyewitness will cost them “100 doll-airs,” and Sandler lets loose with a lame stream of consciousness bullying monologue in which he asks him how much “doll hair” could they possibly get.
By now we know that Sandler’s career is completely beyond redemption, but the sad and horrifying thing is how many actually talented people he drags down to his level. Kevin James looked like he may have had a movie career to keep an eye on after nine years in The King of Queens and a terrific film debut in Hitch. No more, if this movie doesn’t kill his career, I’ll be shocked.
It takes a real special gift to make Jessica Biel in a bra and panties seem kind of dull, but you almost pull it off. Eventually Biel’s force of personality (not to mention her impressive body tone) does make it intriguing – despite the horribly clichéd setup of a straight woman feeling free to strip down in front of a man she thinks is gay. Sorry man… doesn’t happen.
Others who are dragged down include Steve Buscemi (who granted, though a brilliant actor is more than willing to sell out for a payday to fund his more risky projects), Ving Rhames, Dan Aykroyd (who is stiffer than he was when he was trying to sell us a bass-o-matic) and Richard Chamberlain (who is only here, really, because he finally came out of the closet a couple of years ago.).
This waste of talent is not only before the camera. Amazingly, the script was co-written by the extremely talented and sophisticated Alexander Payne (About Schmidt, Sideways). I find it hard to believe that more than a comma in the clunky final script came out of Payne’s imagination.
Now, admit it, Dennis. I know you miss the life in front of the camera, because you do a little cameo in Chuck and Larry as a homophobic Canadian cab-driver. The scene is lame, and frankly you look a bit scruffy and a little bit worse for wear (though I like to think that was just a little method acting on your part.). However, for the short, silly time you were on the screen, you sold it. You said “queers” with conviction! We need that talent back where it belongs – on the other side of the camera, with someone else calling the shots.
I’m sorry if this all seems harsh to you, but your career really needs an intervention. Please bring back Richie Brockelman. Leave Chuck and Larry far in our rear-view mirrors.
A concerned fan
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: November 6, 2007.