There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
I never knew this: Straight women, when hanging out with their gay male pals, routinely strip down to their undies, demand that their breasts be squeezed, and initiate make-out sessions to improve their sexual technique. At least they do in I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, but then many strange things keep happening: Ving Rhames sings “I’m Every Woman” in a men’s shower room, Dan Aykroyd can’t seem to decide if he has prostate or testicular cancer, and Jessica Biel is a lawyer—a really smart one. None of it makes a lick of sense, but there’s at least a soft heart beating beneath this human-rights confection. Widowed fireman Larry (Kevin James) needs benefits for himself and his kids, so he asks his best friend, womanizing Chuck (Adam Sandler), to enter into a phony domestic-partner arrangement. (“You mean like faggots?” Chuck asks.) No one is supposed to blink an eye, but a nosy city bureaucrat (Steve Buscemi) sniffs out their fraud and threatens them with jail. The boys hire hot lawyer Alex (Biel) to defend them, but the resulting publicity drives them deeper into their subterfuge and, not so incidentally, exposes them to the perils of being gay in America. Can we doubt they will evolve into nicer straight men? Not in this film, which, under the direction of longtime Sandler enabler Dennis Dugan, reinforces every stereotype it tweaks. The heteros can’t dance, the homos can’t not dance, and Rhames’ butch fireman turns nelly the instant he steps out of the closet. The estimable Alexander Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt) had a hand in the screenplay, but given the ratio of hit-to-miss gags, I would guess he had a foot out the door. What keeps the film from being dismissed altogether is the affectionate rapport between the two leads. Co-producer Sandler effectively dials down his towel-snapping persona, and James shows, as he did in Hitch, that the simple act of staying in character can make the least glamorous actor look radiant.