The high concept of a fake gay marriage undertaken to save pension benefits sounds like it would be the perfect fit for a low brow Adam Sandler comedy. Why is it, then, that the jokes fall flat most of the time? I sat there in the darkened theater waiting for the story to take off, but it never left the realm of the sitcom, stretched nearly to the breaking point to reach feature length.
I wanted to like it. Sandler is usually dependable for this type of comedy, but this felt like a different Sandler, a Sandler who wasn't completely comfortable in this new role as an adult character. On the other side, Kevin James' character felt truly conflicted, and had a lot more heart in his portrayal. In the end, it is a movie that has its laughs, but it fails to make much of an impact.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry centers on a pair of New York City firefighters. Larry (Kevin James) is a widower who, following a close call, worries about what would happen to his two kids should something happen to him. You see, he never changed his pension beneficiary from his deceased wife to his kids. Because he waited so long following the death, he cannot change the beneficiary without getting remarried.
Larry is a man who loved his wife, still loves his wife, and has not been able to move on. His love for his wife reminds me of Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub on Monk) and the way his love for his deceased wife persists; even death cannot part them. It is his perpetual state of mourning which leads to his request to fake a domestic partnership; it is out of love for his kids that he is willing to do anything to ensure their futures.
The man playing the role of partner is Chuck (Sandler), Mr. February in the fireman's calendar and confirmed bachelor and ladies man — a man who, as a staunch heterosexual, has no initial desire to take any part in this ruse. However, Larry had saved his life, and as such, he owes it to him to do anything, anytime. The time has come, but signing domestic partner papers winds up being much more than just a paper trick.