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By Pete Vonder Haar | July 21, 2007

Nothing I could write to begin this review – no prelude, overview, or back story – would serve any purpose other than to delay the news you already know is coming: that “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” Adam Sandler’s latest ulcerated boil on the already heavily-scarred a*s of American comedy, is so remarkably free of laughs I might as well have been watching John Wayne Gacy’s home movies.

Unless your attention has been too occupied by David Beckham coming to America (to deliver us from the other four major sports we already have), you’re familiar with the movie’s premise: straight (and fat) NY firefighter Larry Valentine (Kevin James) is a recent widower worrying about what will happen to his children should an accident befall him on the job. In addition to being a single parent, Larry is apparently also an idiot, and never named his kids as beneficiaries. After reading an article on benefits for domestic partners, he hits up his best friend, fellow straight firefighter Chuck Levine (Adam Sandler), to go in on the scam. The only problem being, Chuck is a ladies man who gets more a*s than a port-a-john at Lilith Fair, and is a tad recalcitrant. He owes Larry for saving his life, however, and so agrees, setting off a chain reaction of excruciatingly predictable and unlikely events.

An aside: Chuck and Larry are the worst firefighters of all time. Larry saving Chuck’s life wouldn’t have been necessary if they hadn’t been dicking around during an inspection in the first place.

The ruse works for a time, until the city comes sniffing around. The pair consults with attorney Alex McDonough (Jessica Biel), who advises them that the best way to convince everyone their fraud is real is to go to Canada and get married. The service is presided over by an Asian stereotype played by Rob Schneider. Schneider obviously studied for the role by watching that episode of “Gilligan’s Island” where the island is taken over by a Japanese sailor who thinks WWII is still going on. You’ll be amazed at how he mispronounces his “R’s” as “L’s,” and vice-versa.

As the newly married couple becomes more and more exposed to a safe version of gay culture, where the homosexual lifestyle appears to involve little more than wearing funny costumes and dancing to Deee-Lite, they grow more enlightened. In Chuck’s case, that simply consists of no longer using the word “faggot” and beating up anti-gay protestors. Like Harrison Ford in “Witness,” Adam Sandler has to step up to protect the queers, who evidently are unable to defend themselves. He endures his own form of torment, however, longing to stick it in the curvaceous Alex but forced to maintain the illusion of disinterested homosexuality.

The script, like the plot itself, would fit right in on the second season of “Three’s Company.” Every gag that isn’t a variation on the gay jokes you told in 6th grade is at the expense of fat guys. And if James isn’t rotund enough for you, there’s a scene where Chuck and Larry rescue a morbidly obese shut-in who ends up falling on Larry, and then – in a comedic twist that probably would have made Billy Wilder laugh until he stroked out – he farts! Where does Sandler keep coming up with stuff?

Biel seems content to follow Bo Derek’s career trajectory, bouncing around in her underwear and a latex cat suit, and director Dennis Dugan continues the award-winning style that helped “The Benchwarmers” challenge “Summer Catch” for the title of Worst Baseball Movie Ever Made. Meanwhile, we’re supposed to believe Chuck can cast aside a lifetime of misogyny and homophobia in a matter of weeks (don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a lighter mile in his loafers, I guess). I’d call “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” a new low, but it’s really just a continuation of the dismal pattern of lazily scripted and derivative horseshit that marks most recent Hollywood comedies. If movies like this, “Norbit,” and “Wild Hogs” are really what you want, by all means go out and buy some tickets. If you can lift your knuckles off the ground long enough to work the Velcro on your wallet, that is.

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