New York firefighters, Chuck and Larry, are best friends and everyday heroes. When the recently widowed Larry (Kevin James) realises that, in the event of his death, his children will be left with nothing he takes drastic action. He asks Chuck (Adam Sandler) to enter into a domestic partnership to protect his kids and save any loss of benefits. Later he discovers the legal implications and the two friends have to convince an obsessed and intrusive fraud investigator (Steve Buscemi) that they really are gay lovers.
The opening scene features Chuck and Larry saving a man from a burning building. It allows the viewers to clearly see their individual nuances and also their aggressively macho relationship. Amidst the most serious of situations there is plenty of room for laughs which promises much for the rest of the film. Unfortunately, from here it all descends into a series of ridiculously outlandish situations which rarely raise so much as a titter; some of which are actually painful to watch.
Characters are lampooned, the straightforward becomes unrealistic, strong women are undermined, all for the sake of an easy laugh. Every single homosexual stereotype you can possibly think of sits proudly at the forefront of this film’s script – yes, there is a soap-dropping scene. To go to such lengths to emphasise each plotline isn’t necessary. The viewer doesn’t need their faces rubbing in it to understand the ruse.
There are certainly several cameo performances that salvage some credibility and these are worth looking out for - Ving Rhames, playing a mysterious fellow firefighter, is one in particular who manages to wring out a few laughs – but overall there is a definite case of miscasting big names simply for big box office takings.
Somewhere buried deep beneath the Hollywood schmaltz lays a heart-warming story of how the most insecure of people can accommodate the most insane of lifestyles all in the name of friendship. It’s such a shame that all the accompanying buffoonery, leading to an overlong running time, ruins this perfectly decent premise.
Postscript: In August 2007, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Shana Levine, one of the producers of the 2004 Australian film, Strange Bedfellows, is considering filing a copyright-infringement suit against the Chuck and Larry producers. It appears that both films are about two firefighters who pretend to be homosexuals in order to take advantage of tax benefits for gay couples. Watch this space!
Commissioned by Local Secrets online magazine...