Hey, I'm only human, I have character defects like anyone else, and one of mine is that I enjoy Adam Sandler movies.
Actually, I'm not sure this is a true character defect, although it is certainly treated as one by my more cultured friends. Say something favorable about an Adam Sandler pic in their presence, and I'm likely to hear, "Oh, just because you've moved to Williamsburg doesn't mean you have to go all ironic on us."
But there is nothing whatsoever ironic about my delight in the broad, slapdash, hamhanded - yet ultimately loving - swipes at popular culture and society that Sandler specializes in. I know I waxed rhapsodic on here about his last movie, Click, perhaps a little too rhapsodic, because a week later I couldn't even remember what the movie was about (something about a TV remote). But I remember it was good. Or at least pretty good. Didn't make me want to slit my wrists, anyway.
But this new one, I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry, is a whole new order of wonderful. I thought the previews looked pretty funny, but I still wasn't sure I wanted to see it until some prissy queen wrote into the Village Voice complaining that it was "completely homophobic," apparently because the word "faggot" is used a few times (only by very bad or ignorant people who get their comeuppance, of course; Hollywood in 2007 would never dream of releasing a mainstream film that made gays look like anything but cuddly Will and Grace-style pets).
When Miss Thing went on to fulminate, "I've never been more offended by a movie than this one," compared it to gay bashing, and finished up with, "I've never been more let down by the Voice" for giving it a semi-favorable review, there was no longer any doubt in my mind that I had to see it.
Apparently quite a few people felt similarly, because even on a Monday night, with the film on three screens in the Times Square multiplex, every showing was sold out. I was lucky to get a seat at all, and when I did, it was sandwiched in between half a dozen clearly heterosexual couples happily munching on what theaters somehow get away with selling as "nachos" (basically corn chips that you dip in orange-colored Elmer's Glue, it seems).
It was a very mainstream and very straight audience, definitely drawn from (way) uptown and the boroughs, and I realized immediately where much of the antipathy toward Adam Sandler comes from: he appeals to what my downtown and inner Brooklyn friends would consider the "wrong" sort of people, though of course they'd never admit it out loud.
Anyway, the movie is hilariously crass, full of fun, and still manages to make a few good points about tolerance and open-mindedness. The audience may not have been entirely won over to this point of view, as there was still a good deal of ew-ing every time things got a little too gay onscreen, but this stuff takes time. It's not that long ago that the idea of a largely working class and ethnic audience paying money to be entertained by an unabashedly pro-gay comedy would have been nearly unimaginable.
But did I say "pro-gay?" It's not really; more like pro-human, pro-doing or being or feeling whatever the hell you want to do or be or feel. Despite being essentially a straight person's take on things, it'll do more for the cause of tolerance and understanding than every overtly "gay" movie I've ever seen, not least because it treats gay people as just plain people rather than as the special, almost magical creatures Hollywood usually serves up, capable only of being noble yet doomed victims or incredibly witty and stylish professionals whose primary purpose in life is to show clueless straights how to dress, shop, eat and dance.
One more point in favor of Chuck And Larry: it's totally Brooklyn-centric. The accents, the backdrops, the attitudes: I don't think any of the characters ever bothers to set foot in Manhattan. It's loud, trashy and irreverent - the film that is, but yeah, Brooklyn, too - yet shot through with home truths. Take your favorite uptight gay activist to see it ASAP.