If you watched pretty much any TV show during the past month or so, you know that Chuck & Larry is about two firefighters (Kevin and Adam) getting into a domestic partnership in order for Larry (Kevin James) to maintain pension related benefits for his kids, a little girl and a little gay boy.
The movie is mediocre. Maybe reading a few bad reviews will help you lower your expectations and allow you to enjoy the movie -- that kinda worked for me.
As for gay content, there is a lot of it, of course. A lot of it, especially in the first half of the movie, is really bad on the gay side. Really bad. I will talk about that first, and then about what in the movie makes me think it deserves the highest positive gay rating on the Beacon: LightShed 10. I will talk about the positive stuff after the jump because it will ruin the plot.
I see four really big problems with Chuck & Larry: (i) it suggests gays should not get rights lest people abuse the system with all sorts of fake marriages/domestic partnerships; (ii) Adam Sandler (whom we are made to like and stay on his side) uses "faggot" to refer to gays; (iii) Adam Sandler hits Kevin James hard on the face when Kevin approaches him with kissing intentions; and (iv) Kevin and Adam give Kevin's gay son a hard time for being gay-bound (the kid likes musical theater, etc.).
I think the movie overcomes the problems above, except for the first one, and that is very sad. Gays are in need of rights and acceptance so that they can be happy and stop being bashed and killed on a daily basis. I think that, despite the effort made in the movie to the contrary (I talk about that effort after the jump), there's still a message that fraud can occur, and that is a message that assholes like Bill O'Reilly, who might be looking for a cheap, idiotic, argument against gay rights, will find in Chuck & Larry. So, that's really bad.
Beforing moving on to the positive aspects of the movie, let me address an important criticism the movie has received. I read somewhere that one reason the movie was homophobic was the fact that the gays in the movie were mostly stereotypical characters, basically queeny, effeminate guys, particularly the gay son and this firefighter who is all macho and then, when it turns out that he is actually gay, he turns into a flaming 'mo the minute he comes out.
I can see how stereotypes hurt people and how stereotypes shouldn't be encouraged. But I think the argument against stereotypes of gays as super happy queens is actually based on a not so noble argument; the argument may actually be: If there were no effeminate / queeny gay men, it is possible that we would already have equal rights because we would have an easier case for how normal gay people are; it would be easier to show that we really are equal and "normal". But that is not what life and happiness should be about. Life should be about people being happy no matter how they look, talk, walk, etc. What the hell is the problem with a guy being effeminate? Again, I know society sees that as a problem, but why do we have to comply with assigned roles? Here's what needs to be changed: people who see a problem in an effeminate man (or a butch woman, at that). That's where the problem lies. The mind of those people, that's what needs changing. And, mind you, that sadly includes a lot -- I mean a lot -- of gays too. People need to accept that a man can be effeminate and that a woman can be butch and everything else in-between. Femmies and butchies are people just like you and me, and deserve the dignity all human beings deserve. So, you need to seriously reconsider your views on effeminate men and butch women if you have a problem with them. They must be embraced and that needs to start with us gays.
Just one last think before jumping into the reasons why I think the movie deserves a LightShed 10. The movie is surprisingly racist towards the Chinese. Adam Sandler tries to get a few nasty laughs out of this Chinese guy in the movie. Not nice.
Read on for the remaining of my gay discussion, or go see this mediocre, but very gay-important, movie.
I actually hope I am not giving away too much by saying that three of the four problems I pointed out above are solved in the movie. Adam, who hit Kevin for trying to kiss him, becomes a gentler man. Adam, who slurred against gay people, effectively lectures a crowd about how bad it is to use a slur like "faggot"; how he used that word before; and how that is all just wrong. Both Kevin and Adam help the gay son to succeed in a school musical audition and it is pretty clear that they overcome the problem they have with Kevin's son being gay.
More importantly, the movie shows how hard it is for a person to lose friends and the trust of co-workers for no reason other than being gay.
The firefighters, who are all crazy about Adam and Kevin, dump them after they learn that they are gay; they are afraid of taking a shower with Adam and Kevin, and won't play basketball with them anymore. I actually cried at those scenes just because they hit too close to home. But the firefighters come around nicely and end up fully supporting the gays.
The movie also makes an effort to convey that people should not be concerned with straighties defrauding the system with fake gay marriages/partnerships. In the end, the farce is uncovered and people go to jail, that's the effort the movie makes. But I think the effort is not able to overcome the first problem I have with the movie. Although I welcome the effort, I think it is far from enough because a lot of work and resources are consumed in the attempt to take the impostors to justice. True, that would be the case for all marriages, since it is easier for people to just find an opposite-sex person to marry and defraud, that's for sure. There is no reason to believe straight guys would prefer to pretend to be gay to get some shitty-second-class-citizen-type rights. But do you think people are likely to see that? I don't think so, I think people are likely to see just the bad part: that it is possible that straight people will defraud the system if gays are given some shitty rights; so, gays should not get rights for fear that straighties will abuse those rights. Pretty sad, right? But I think that's what it is, and that's what a lot of people may take away from Chuck & Larry.
Now here's why I think that, despite all the big problems I see in the movie, it deserves attention and high praise from the gays. Gays should be happy that a movie Chuck & Larry is being made because there are a lot of homophobes out there, most of them straight guys. What Chuck & Larry does is, it lures those assholes into the theater (hopefully even a loser like Bill O'Reilly will see this movie). The lure of Jessica Biel should be strong. Bitch is smoking hot, I give her that.
Straighties will also be lured by the cheap laughs on the gays, some which can be seen on the many trailers the distributors released and all of which are executed by two very recognizable, likable and competent names in straight comedy. Once inside the theater, the movie proceeds to show to straighties that Kevin and Adam (in the movie) are guys like them, who may hate on gays, who may just be inconsequent in using an awful slur like "faggot", and then show them that there is no reason to behave in that hateful or inconsequent way.
The movie shows that guys who are like Adam and Kevin in the beginning of the movie can change with not much effort. And my experience shows that that is not an unreasonable expectation. Straight guys can change with not much effort indeed, and I think movies like Chuck & Larry can help a lot. It can help by not giving easy and politically correct answers right away. It can help because the views in a straight movie like this can be viewed as non-biased. The movie first takes us through the struggle straight people may go through with respect to their views on the gays, and then shows how people who call other guys "faggots" can and do come around. That is something that the movie (which is an otherwise pitiful attempt at moviemaking) does wonderfully; and because of all of that it is deserving of a LightShed 10 and much love and sympathy from us gays.