07 August 2007

Chuck And Larry

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.


Anonymous said...

I guess where you're from the left-coast the concept of anything about homosexuality causing any sort of discomfort still needs an explanation. My experience these days is that "homophobes" (the types that goto the park downtown to stand up for traditional marriage) are usually pretty friendly folk that would still buy a gay-man an ice cream. My mom is a flight attendant that gets along great with gays but still rallies and votes against any gay marriage initiatives. I am sick of Hollywood's treatment of everything surrounding homosexuality, it is dishonest and if you're a homosexual you must see how it is counter-productive. The only people that can tolerate it fall into that sad group of lefties that instead of falling back on the dogma of God fall back on the dogma of comfort and the second something is said that goes outside that sacred cow, the person purporting to such nonsense shall be ignored forever as well.

South Park does a much more honest take.

But my giant fucking beef is that there is quite a distinction between suburban Christians that oppose gay marriage and overgrown meat-head bullies that hate anyone they can easily beat up. By dishonestly portraying this, films and shows like Will and Grace create a sense in the gay community and in the Christian community that the other side misunderstands them more than they really do and it unacceptable, the lowest form of deception the people who make such shit will find themselves on the lowest rings of the Inferno. For that matter whoever plans on seeing this movie would better spend their ten bucks on Dorothy Sayer's translation of the Divine Comedy.

Anonymous said...

Boo! Chuck and Larry represent nothing more than the continuing gentrification of Adam Sandler. I haven't seen a Sandler movie since he turned his back on the gutsy retard-boy persona of Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison in favor of effete 'artiste' nonsense like Punch Drunk Love and non-threatening chick-friendly schmaltz. Of course this movie is gay-positive -- they consulted with an anti-defamation organization when making it, effectively sanitizing against anything remotely offensive. Boo on such pandering PC cowardice!

jett said...

i refuse to believe you every time that you tell me that you love an adam sandler movie! REFUSE. i just can't do it. and seriously, the commercial for this ran like one long gay joke so i was shocked that GLAAD endorsed it.