The Adam Sandler comedy I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry was the top U.S. box office attraction this past weekend, as expected. The film brought in $34 million, edging out the previous week’s top draw, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by $2 million.
It will be interesting to see whether Chuck and Larry can sustain its appeal. Adam Sandler has strong box office appeal when appearing in silly comedies, and this film had the additional draw of the curiosity factor, as its subject matter, homosexual marriage, is in the news and seems to promise rich ground for humor.
Unfortunately, the film tries to be all things to everybody and hence should please hardly anybody.
It starts out with a barrage of humor strongly dependent on the recognition of the true oddness of homosexuality. It’s pure incongruity humor, as Chuck and Larry act like husband and . . . husband, and that part of the movie is effective. It’s meant to be funny, and it is funny.
But of course the filmmakers couldn’t simply present such a film unadulterated in the current cultural environment of aggressive support for homosexuality. Hence the second half of the film constitutes a boring and mindless morality play meant to convince viewers that homosexuality is something to be seen as equal to heterosexuality, not just to be tolerated but to be accepted with enthusiasm.
The humor of the first half of the film, of course, is thoroughly muted in this part.
These immorality plays never work, either logically or aesthetically, as the call for people to embrace a rigid standard of not having standards just doesn’t make any sense.
One cannot imagine the teenage boys (of all ages) who make up Sandler’s audience will enjoy this aspect of the film, and hardly anybody else will enjoy the first half.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry would have succeeded if the filmmakers had called up the courage to make it one thing or another.
It would have been a critical success if they had made it openly pro-homosexual.
And it would have been a box-office success if they had made it unapologetically funny.
What it ends up being is something that won’t really please anybody.