A shot of Sandler sweetness amid the gay jokes

2008-10-02 08:05

ADAM Sandler has made a career out of crass, broad-brush comedy in which he plays everyman characters. But he can't help adding a shot of sweetness - at some point in most of his films, a beating heart is discernable under the stupidity.

In Chuck and Larry, the target is gayness. Sandler and Kevin James play two New York firemen. Brave and manly, they run into burning buildings together, rescuing trapped people.

Larry is a widower, raising his two kids alone, while Sandler's Chuck is a rampant womaniser (a bit of a wishful fantasy by Sandler, who can be sweet, but a hot hunk?). When Larry realises that his pension is about to lapse because he has not changed his beneficiary to his children some years after his wife's death, there is only one solution - get married. But Larry doesn't know any women, and turns to his best friend.

He assures Chuck that registering a domestic partnership will not alter their lives, and that no one need know. But the validity of the arrangement is investigated, and they have to get married in Canada to prove they are for real. The charade gets ever more complicated when Chuck falls for their very hot lawyer (Jessica Biel) and they get drawn into the gay community.

Everyone learns lessons and it turns out several unsuspected people have secrets of their own.

Sandler approaches his audience at the point where they supposedly are - no faggots here please! - and subverts that. As they see the all-man Chuck come to realise that his previously prejudiced attitudes are wrong, they will question their own beliefs and see that we are all the same. It was hard to gauge, watching the film on Saturday, whether this works. Many in the audience were about 12, and I hope many of the jokes went right over their heads, and the man next to me fell so deeply asleep he was snoring.

Sandler's basic sweetness emerges when Larry and Chuck, forced to prove that their marriage is valid, show that they do in fact deeply love and care for each other, but of course they can't kiss, that would be too much for the audience. The film is crass, and the stereotypes firmly in place until the end, but there's that darn Sandler sweetness …


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