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Blu-ray Review: I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry

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With the ongoing and never-ending battle for gay rights erupting from coast to coast, it was only a matter of time until the issues were touched in a main-stream movie. Marriage, union, or contract, the benefits are the same, but the terms are different. Though there have been other movies getting close to this concept, only I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry examines what happens if two straight men attempt to get unionized simply for the benefits.

Chuck & Larry tells the story of two best friends. Chuck Levine (Sandler) is a firefighter who happens to hook up with almost every single female in the world. Larry Valentine (Kevin James) is also a firefighter, though he recently lost his wife and has two kids to take care of. The two men are extremely close, and they serve on the same line. Throughout the movie, this relationship – that of platonic love between two men – is stressed repeatedly.

After Larry's wife dies, he forgets to change his life insurance and other legal documents to be in his kids names. Instead, the benefits and money remain in his wife's name, and if Larry died at some point, everything would be stuck in probate court instead of going straight to his kids. To name his kids beneficiaries, Larry would need to either get married or divorced, and the later is not possible. Instead of finding a mail-order bride, he convinces Chuck, who owes him for a previous life saving, to become his "partner."

They head to Canada, get married, and come home; everything should be done and good. Of course, that wouldn't make for a good movie, now would it? Instead, the city for which they work becomes suspicious and thinks the two might be trying to cheat the system (which, of course, they are). To fight these charges, Chuck and Larry must start looking and acting like a couple. They move in together, start shopping together, and publicize their relationship. After hiring the very sexy Alex McDonough (Jessica Biel) as their lawyer, the two men plan to fight the city's investigation. This is the meat of the movie, as the friends are forced into a life they never anticipated, though one with which they are oddly comfortable.

Although I knew the general plot-line (i.e. that they would try to scam the system), I had never seen Chuck & Larry until I viewed it on Blu-ray. Frankly, I had no idea what to expect, and was somewhat worried. Would it be filled with body humor and "faggot" jokes? Would it dumb down the issues, and sugar coat the problems? Or would it actually adequately handle the intricate and delicate nature of the situation? With Adam Sandler as the lead, I had little hope for the movie.

However, my doubts were not necessary. Surprisingly, the film handles the issues quite well. While it is filled with almost every stereotype possible, it also makes sure to show the tenderness and love that gay couples often share. It also shows exactly how harmful and hateful the anti-gay movement can be. From family relationships, to the brotherhood of a fire station, love plays a key role in Chuck & Larry. I really was surprised by this take on the relationship, but it made the movie actually pretty damn good.

As for the video quality of the Blu-ray, it was not so good. This seems pretty standard for the Universal comedies, but I was not too happy with the overall look. The colors were faded, and actually appeared to be somewhat flat. The blacks were shallow, and I did see some ghosting. However, this only happened in the close up shots, as everything from a distance looked pretty good. The odd changes in the video quality indicated a very bad transfer (straight from the old HD-DVD version). This took a huge amount out of the movie, and it disappointed me.

As for the audio quality of the Blu-ray, it was extremely well done. This is no surprise, as Universal is exceptionally consistent in delivering good audio. The sound was well balanced; I never lost any dialog, and there was never a time when I needed to reach for the remote. I was surprised when the sounds of the party actually surrounded me, as I felt as though I was sitting just one table over from the stars. However, the sound did get a little front loaded during the conversations, but that was understandable.

As for extras, the Blu-ray release of Chuck & Larry was not that fulfilling. I expected outtakes, bloopers, and other features showcasing Sandler and James. Frankly, with two hilarious actors in the cast, I expected these, but they were not there. Instead, I had the normal yawn-filled commentary, look-at features, and other things like that. In fact, three of the extras feature some sort of commentary – all of which is almost identical, adding nothing at all. For a Blu-ray release of a comedy, Chuck & Larry is seriously lacking in quality extras.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with the film. While I expected a gay-bashing movie, instead I got a sincere and interesting look into the gay rights movement. Though the movie did get into a little bit of body humor, it was surprisingly straightforward and well done. While the Blu-ray didn't add much to the actual movie, if you don't already own it on DVD, I recommend grabbing Chuck & Larry soon.

Movie: The movie was damn good, and proves that you can't judge a book by its cover.
Blu-ray Quality: A bad transfer held back the film.
Sound Quality: Like most Universal releases, Chuck & Larry was well done.
Extras: Absolutely nothing of any use.
Overall: Not a classic, but it is a good Blu-ray to buy.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry is rated PG-13 for crude sexual content throughout, nudity, language and drug references.

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About Robert M. Barga

  • Nigel

    I don’t know how you can say:
    “Though there have been other movies getting close to this concept, only I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry examines what happens if two straight men attempt to get unionized simply for the benefits.”

    An Australian movie ‘Strange Bedfellows’ did it 6 years ago. And there was no coincidence: the Australian movie was also about two firefighters who pretend to be gay, and one of them also has a child who turns out gay, and… Yeah. It was stolen. Blatantly (they’ve since ended up in court).

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    There was also an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in which Charlie and Frank got married for the benefits.

    The twist was that the pair made absolutely no attempt even to pretend that they were gay: they simply obtained a civil union. Which was dissolved after Frank realised he couldn’t pinpoint any actual benefits he was getting out of the deal.