The best remake of Some Like it Hot I've seen this year.
Some Like it Hot, Billy Wilder's 1959 comedy about two musicians who decide to dress up as women in order to avoid a mob hit, is a certifiable classic. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Adam Sandler's new comedy about two firefighters who decide to impersonate a gay couple in order to receive domestic partner health benefits, is not. It is, however, better than I expected it to be.
King of Queens alum Kevin James stars in the film as perennial good guy Larry Valentine, a lonely widower who's still immersed in grief a year after his wife's death. Sandler plays Larry's best friend Chuck Levine, a loveable lothario whose exploits with the opposite sex are legendary. Fearing that his two children will be without benefits in the event of his untimely death, Larry convinces Chuck to become his domestic partner in order to ensure the kids are properly taken care of, should something happen. Let the wackiness begin!
And let me tell you, things get plenty wacky. When the City of New York becomes suspicious of their new arrangement, Chuck and Larry are forced to go to ridiculous lengths in order to prove that their union is legitimate. And while many of the jokes misfire badly, a surprising amount of them hit their (admittedly easy) targets, making I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry the least painful Adam Sandler comedy since 1998's The Wedding Singer.
Sure, the premise is dated. Straight men have pretended to be gay in movies and TV shows for decades, since the days when Jack Tripper duped Mr. Roper into letting him move in with those hotties Janet and Chrissy. Even the domestic partner benefits twist has been done before. And the film's ultimate plea for tolerance and acceptance feels embarrassingly obsolete. Ultimately, what prevents I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry from being a total debacle is the comedic chemistry between stars Sandler and James. They may not be Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, but they've got enough chops to provide the film with a modicum of laughs.
Unfortunately, they're surrounded by mediocrity. Jessica Biel's forgettable performance in the Marilyn Monroe role won't likely do much to help clear up the Alba/Biel confusion many of us face when it comes to differentiating between Hollywood's two hottest Jessicas. Steve Buscemi is surprisingly unfunny as the movie's chief villain, uptight benefits investigator Clinton Fitzer. Sandler's buddies also make their requisite cameos -- Rob Schneider plays an Asian stereotype as the proprietor of Canadian wedding chapel, while David Spade plays a gay stereotype as an especially randy clubgoer. Neither adds much of anything to the movie. How Schneider keeps getting roles in Sandler's movies is beyond me. It looks like Adam will never stop paying for that kidney that Rob gave him.
There are also several irreverent celebrity non-actor cameos -- an increasing trend in Sandler's films -- including turns from ESPN anchor Dan Patrick and alleged musician Dave Matthews.
Barring some epic global catastrophe, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry will likely be another uber-successful high-concept comedy for Sandler and his pals. It's not a masterpiece -- it's not even good, really -- but it had enough laughs to tide me over until the next Judd Apatow movie comes out.