|LARRY & CHUCK: Kevin James and Adam Sandler.|
But, as with any Sandler project, it doesn’t matter what anyone really thinks of them. They still make money (well, maybe not Eight Crazy Nights) . Grossing over $145 million in its theatrical release alone, Chuck & Larry is sure to hit the jackpot again with its DVD release Tuesday.
But this film isn’t just any Sandler vehicle. It’s about me. Or, at least, a struggle that’s close to me: the fight to have a same-sex relationship recognized by the state. So I guess I’m a little more invested in this movie than, say, Happy Gilmore or Billy Madison. After finally breaking down and watching it this weekend, here’s what I have to say.
I’m not going to give you one more gay person’s perspective on a film made by non-gay people playing gay people who aren’t gay. That is (pardon my pun) fruitless, and truth is, it wasn’t made for my consumption. I knew that when I heard the first “faggot” joke just a few minutes into the film. Maybe that’s why so many queers stayed away from it when it was first in the theaters. But, now that it’s ready for home viewing, I can’t help thinking this will be an impulsive rental, and that it will hit gays—and some straights—in the gonads as it did me.
In short, Sandler and Kevin James play firefighting partners who, after a near-death accident, pretend to be gay partners in hopes of acquiring domestic partnership rights.
The gay humor wasn’t that difficult to stomach. That’s because I’ve seen it all before in other homo-riffic films like In&Out and Adam&Steve. It’s all shtick meets “who’s the girl?” dick jokes. Add in a drag queen-filled disco, an uncomfortable dropped-soap shower scene and a coming-out story, and you’ve pretty much nailed the plot.
It’s what happens after their friends and colleagues find out these partners are real-life “partners” that really freaked me out. That’s due in large part to the fact that, in a town like Portland, which has a gay reserve cop possibly running for mayor and a gay-friendly former-cop mayor with an out daughter on the police force, I don’t know of any actual gay firefighters. Not a single one. That utter loneliness is personified on film by Ving Rhames’ character, “Fred,” who musters the guts to come out as a gay man once he saw other firemen like himself do the same thing.
I know the real point of this film is to show us how we all need to love and tolerate those who are different from ourselves. But, truth is, it just shows us how far we still need to go—even in a city as gay-friendly as Portland.