Fragile Things

I remember a time when all was well
And everyone who knew me thought I was swell
My words were golden and my reasoning was sound
My God, my writing was oh so profound

But then came the outsiders and they were just mean
Exposing all my flaws, it was all so obscene
How dare they disprove my heartfelt theories
By bombing them to shreds with cynical queries

Don’t they ever realize that I always know best
And you’re not supposed to put my work to the test
I am an awesome elitist so please leave me alone
Hey, isn’t that a drunk guy operating a drone?

I can run so fast to my shaky ivory tower
Convenient distractions help keep me in power
I was once so untouchable in the eyes of my friends
Now it’s the unwashed masses who set all the trends

How sickening to discover I’m not being respected
My critics are so gross, I want them disinfected
How quick they are to judge a superior thinker
How rude to claim my masterpiece is a colossal stinker

I’m appalled and dismayed and completely falling apart
In their general direction I blow a nasty fart
Their bitter truths wound me so much that it stings
Why can’t they be more sensitive to us fragile things?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, January 30, 2015
8:43 p.m.

Published in: on January 30, 2015 at 8:44 pm  Comments (1)  

The Purge: Anarchy

The militarization of North American law enforcement finally became a mainstream political issue in the summer of 2014.  Decades of cruel, preventable murders of countless black men, women, boys & girls at the hands of white, paranoid, trigger happy, male police officers became too numerous and despicable to ignore any longer.  What was once discussed by few is now being debated by all in a very public, global forum.

By sheer coincidence, in the weeks before Michael Brown’s murder in Ferguson, Missouri lit the forgotten fuse that outraged millions into action, The Purge:  Anarchy began its run in theatres.  Set in 2023, like its predecessor The Purge, it imagines America in the not-too-distant future as an authoritarian state run by religious conservatives who allow the public 12 consecutive hours one night a year to commit as many violent felonies as they choose with no legal consequences whatsoever.  However, if you use a certain type of explosive, you’ll be prosecuted.  Yes, kill as many as you like with all sorts of automatic weaponry but TNT is a step too far, eh?  Calm down with the boom-boom, you sick bastards.

The demented thinking goes that if one saves up all of one’s pent-up aggressions for this annual purge, you’ll act more like a reasonable, law abiding citizen for the rest of the year.  (Really?  Poppycock, I say.)  The more believable explanation is that killing off the poor or having the rich kill them off for you one day a year saves the government a lot of money.  (Fiscal conservatism, people.)  Unfortunately, since the first Purge movie, unemployment has somehow creeped up from 1% to 5%, so it’s not really working.

At any event, how all of this escapes the attention of human rights groups, the International Criminal Court & the UN, I’ll never understand.  Apparently, in a Purge movie American Exceptionalism is almost always uncontested, especially in the media.  (Reporters and anchors cover it like its just another news story.)  And government officials are never considered worthy targets.  (Wall Street bankers, on the other hand…)

However, the purge doesn’t escape the attention of a black militant group who have their own website led by a Malcolm X-type firebrand who rails against the coldness of the New Founding Fathers, the right-wing government who initiated this barbaric practice in 2018, in posted online videos.  Not a fan of the non-violent philosophy, he announces that his group will be fighting all this state sanctioned violence with violence of their own.  (Yeah, that’s not hypocritical in the slightest.)  How puzzling that he never overtly mentions how much this affects the black community specifically.

While the original Purge focused on one family’s experience under siege in their own house, The Purge:  Anarchy spends far more time outside in the streets and alleys following several unrelated characters as they try to avoid getting caught up in all the simulated sadism put on sickening display.  If Saw and Hostel were what critics called Torture Porn, then this is Assassination Porn, a disturbing splatterfest meant to titillate and arouse your inner murderer.  Those who choose to purge get a different kind of release.  No thanks.

We meet a struggling local waitress (Carmen Ejogo) with an outspoken teen daughter (Zoe Saul) and a father dying from a mysterious disease (a rather healthy looking John Beasley); a married couple (Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez) on the verge of separation; and a divorced military veteran (Frank Grillo) grieving over the death of his young son.  None of them are interesting enough to really care about.

Grillo is the only one who wants to purge (he wants to kill the drunk driver who made him childless a year ago) while the rest are hoping to find safe refuge from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. this March 21st.  Unfortunately, not long after the violence begins, a sexist harasser (Noel G) who Ejogo isn’t interested in breaks into her apartment threatening to do terrible things to her and her daughter because she’s always been resisting his “charms”.  (Beasley sneaked out hours before the first siren to sacrifice himself for his family.  Capitalism works!)  What’s so distressing about this scene is how much he sounds like Elliot Rodger, the screwed up college student who wanted to kill all the women who wouldn’t have sex with him and ended up going on a short, tragic, suicidal rampage because of it.

Thankfully, the two are seemingly spared when this overly chatty, misogynistic prick gets murdered by masked gunmen.  (The Fallacy Of The Talking Killer lives on.)  But then, those same gunmen kidnap the two women for reasons we are temporarily spared from learning.  Meanwhile, Grillo coincidentally drives up outside their apartment building witnessing their ordeal.  At the same time, Gilford & Sanchez, who have to abandon their car a few hours earlier because a gangbanger decided to play amateur mechanic, are desperate for sanctuary of their own.  When Grillo eventually intervenes, the couple slip into the back seat of his car undetected.

After Ejogo & Saul’s rescue is complete, and once Gilford & Sanchez convince a startled Grillo they’re no threat to him (how can they be when he’s the one with all the guns?), all five drive away together in a vehicle that inevitably gets shot up all to hell by the one guy Grillo doesn’t kill, a ballcap-wearing psycho in sunglasses firing off a stationary big ass machine gun in the back of an open truck.  If Grillo had done his job and finished him off properly, the gang would’ve had a better mode of transportation.  But after Big Daddy (yes, that’s his name) obliterates his car, they’re on foot.  Idiots.

Hoping to immediately find a replacement vehicle for his own purge, Grillo is foolishly convinced by Ejogo to journey over to her co-worker’s apartment while also protecting everybody from the roving gangs of sociopaths eager to take advantage of this penalty-free period.  Sucker.

The fact that Ejogo isn’t completely honest with Grillo becomes a major problem once they arrive.  Violence suddenly erupts because of an exposed affair.  Barely escaping with their lives intact (Gilford has already been shot during an earlier subway shootout with one gang), the crisis worsens for the fivesome when Big Daddy and company arrive planning to surround Ejogo’s co-worker’s building.  With just seconds to spare before some goons make their way to the back entrance, our five heroes seem to be in the clear only to be suddenly kidnapped by one of the roving gangs who are curiously more capitalist than sadist.

They’re soon sold as bounties to some rich fucks having a purge party.  Well-to-do volunteers take to a makeshift, darkened inner playground to hunt our heroes down with high-tech weaponry while wearing night vision goggles.  Good thing Grillo is a veteran.

What is the point of a movie like this?  Is it meant to serve as a cinematic warning of where America is heading if it doesn’t wake up and scale back its gun culture?  Is it meant to alarm us about the creeping fascism in American politics, the growing coldness in American life, the endless tentacles of the mass surveillance state?  Or is it meant to simply normalize despicable violence as a final solution to the point of numbness, a CIA specialty?  I think I just stumbled upon the answer.

Recycling its flimsy premise from its slightly better predecessor, The Purge:  Anarchy is all bloodlust, all mayhem, all empty provocation; a dark premise deadly bored with the idea of searching for deeper enlightenment.  And it’s hypocritical, too.  Not all acts of purging are treated equally.  Gilford makes an admittedly bad joke about a murdered Wall Street worker saying he deserved it.  Although there are numerous attempts to talk him out of it, Grillo remains determined to get his revenge.  That’s “acceptable” violence, you see.

Without providing much of a backstory, it’s really hard to buy the idea that, beyond that one solitary black rebel group online, no one else would be publicly protesting the purge or that it would even take place as scheduled (for 6 straight years!) without some kind of serious pushback from lawmakers, journalists, human rights advocates and the citizenry.  Because the film spends zero time talking about the history of the New Founding Fathers, it’s a mystery how they cling to power now that crime rates have dropped.  With the exception of a brief radio debate, there’s no serious resistance to their cruel stupidity whatsoever.

It’s difficult watching The Purge:  Anarchy without thinking about the current state of American politics.  All around us is undeniable evidence of a growing police state where real dissent is punished with overlong prison sentences, the innocent are tortured, being brown or black is immediate justification for suspicion & instantaneous execution and the powerful human monsters who commit all of these atrocities remain free, respected and prosperous.  Anarchy doesn’t mention the War On Terror or the War On Drugs.  In fact, it’s not quite clear what sorts of crimes were out of control before the New Founding Fathers took power.  Maybe if it used these endless, pointless, inhumane wars as a starting point or as context for the annual purge, some important areas could’ve been explored.

But that’s clearly asking too much of a cheapie, exploitation sequel that only exists to cash in on the surprise success of a bad movie that started this needless franchise.  And judging by how well it did (almost 80 million domestically) and the fact that the movie has already started the countdown to the next purge in its final scene, this will soon be a trilogy.

Aren’t there enough bad ideas in the world today?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, January 26, 2015
5:11 p.m.

Published in: on January 26, 2015 at 5:11 pm  Comments (4)  

Hiding Out

“Maxwell Hauser” and a decent remake of Crying.  That’s about all I remember about Hiding Out, the 1987 romantic dramedy Jon Cryer made the year after his cinematic breakthrough, Pretty In Pink.  Wait, I forgot about his hair.  Blonde on the sides, black in the middle.  So, three things, then.  Nope.  The love story.  Make that four.

Cryer has that particular hairstyle because he’s in a serious crisis.  Once a bearded, bespectacled, chain smoking Wall Street broker, he’s now on the lam from a mobster who wants him dead.  Why?  The guy’s on trial for money laundering through phony bonds that were handled by Cryer and two of his colleagues.  At least, that’s what I think happened.  Although it’s sort of explained in two different scenes during the beginning & middle of the film, this still isn’t really clear to me.

In fact, I have a few questions:  did Cryer and his cronies know the bonds were phony?  Did they know they were dealing with a criminal?  Why they were selected?  When did they realize they were all in deep shit?  How did the feds find out?

Anyway, the mob guy is so pissed at the brokers he hires hitmen to eliminate all three.  They only get one (the dumb guy who conveniently leaves his gun on his still playing stereo while he sleeps in the adjacent bedroom in his apartment).  Immediately afterwards, Cryer and his other co-worker are separated & protected by the FBI until it’s their turns to testify against him.  (The co-worker eventually clams up on the stand leaving Cryer the government’s only hope for conviction.)

I have to say something here.  Cryer’s beard looks incredibly fake in these early scenes and distractingly so.  It’s no wonder that diner waitress asks for his ID at one point.

He’s supposed to be playing a man in his early 30s but because he has such a young face (he was in his early 20s when he shot the film), it’s not believable at all.  After barely escaping from a failed attempt on his life by one of the mobster’s hitmen (would he really try to eliminate him in such public surroundings in broad daylight?), he’s desperate to reconnect with his young, teenage cousin (played by another babyface, Keith Coogan, who actually was a teenager at the time).

Before he does that, he shaves off his fake beard, loses his glasses (he never squints and I don’t think he ever wears contacts) and puts “Naturally Blond” hair dye on both sides of his head.  Curiously, he’s far more convincing looking as a fake teen than he ever is as a grown man.

After enrolling in Coogan’s school, they end up in the same sex education class.  This leads to an unfortunate & unfunny homophobic sequence where Coogan thinks Cryer is hitting on him instead of just getting his attention.  Thankfully, once they’re in the boys bathroom, Coogan clues in & finally makes a friend.

Now the point of Cryer being in this school with the new look and fake name (the aforementioned Maxwell Hauser, a not-so-witty tribute to the famous brand of coffee he spots in the school office on his first day) is to keep a low profile.  But when his history teacher rips into an anonymous student’s Nixon essay (the teacher is clearly a Republican in denial), he can’t help himself.  Are there many progressives on Wall Street?

The appreciative student who wrote it is Annabeth Gish (her dad served in Vietnam) who he inevitably falls in love with even though she’s 17 and he’s thirtysomething.  (I was 29 when I lost my virginity to a 19-year-old so who am I to judge?)  The relationship often feels very forced.  Cryer makes her laugh way too easily with subpar material.  As they roller skate during their first date, Roy Orbison and kd lang bring his classic Crying back to life.  It’s kind of an odd choice considering how well the date is going.  Anyway, it’s a shame they don’t play the whole song.  (The original is superior, though.)

Meanwhile, Gish is kind of still seeing Tim Quill, the history teacher’s favourite student, even though they don’t really go on dates or anything.  He doesn’t think that’s cool or something.  Whatever.

Anyway, standing up to the history teacher gets him over with the student body which means cousin Coogan is now cool by association.  Meanwhile, he’s having a difficult time trying to get his license.  Let’s just say Coogan’s an excellent candidate for America’s Worst Driver.

Quill is running for a third term as class president which annoys a group of rapping, black students who nominate Cryer to be his opponent.  (The history teacher, for some inexplicable reason, is backing Quill.  What does she get out of his reelection anyway?)  He’s not down at all but they don’t care.  He’s running whether he likes it or not.  Considering my own troubled history with high school politics, I do not envy his dilemma one bit.

Time has not been kind to Hiding Out.  Almost 30 years after its initial theatrical release, it feels very stale today.  (Watching it again in full screen on a dubbed VHS tape solidifies that feeling.)  The mob plot is a confusing mess (you know how I feel about the romance) and the comedy, for the most part, is very tired.  I laughed exactly 3 times.  Hearing the student body mercilessly boo the conniving history teacher during the election results is the biggest one.  Talk about heel heat.

Even though I’d forgotten most of the story, the film is rather predictable.  You never really feel Cryer is in any serious danger and the chances of an unhappy ending are next to nil.

That said, it’s modestly interesting how Gish isn’t too upset learning the truth about Cryer and how Quill has a surprising amount of integrity for someone who has strange ideas about romance.  (His character is a bit baffling.)  How exactly can he be a “pretty decent guy” if he’s so emotionally distant?

If there’s any tiny consolation in suffering through yet another bad 80s film, it’s briefly seeing a pre-stardom Joy Behar as a sassy waitress.  However, like the rest of the cast, what a shame she’s not given anything memorably funny to say.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, January 18, 2015
3:25 a.m.

Published in: on January 18, 2015 at 3:25 am  Comments (2)  

Availability Of 2015 Oscar Nominated Films On DVD & Blu-ray

Life Itself not nominated for Best Documentary Feature?  No recognition for The Lego Movie in the Best Animated Feature category?  No Best Actor nod for David Oyelowo as MLK in Selma?

Instead of blowing a gasket over these surprise omissions from the 87th annual Academy Award nominations, why not calm down and take a look at which of the 45 nominated feature films are either playing in theatres or are available on home video right now and when everything else will hit DVD and Blu-ray?

As always, this list will be updated as new dates & changes become available.  Dates reflect DVD/Blu-ray releases, unless otherwise noted.  The winners will be announced Sunday night, February 22nd.  In the meantime, happy screenings!

American Sniper – May 19

Begin Again – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Beyond The Lights – February 24

Big Hero 6 – February 24

Birdman – February 17 but still playing in theatres

The Boxtrolls – January 20

Boyhood – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Citizenfour – Now playing in theatres, airing on HBO February 23 September 8 August 25

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Finding Vivian Maier – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Foxcatcher – March 3

Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me – Now playing in selected theatres, opening in more in April & May, airing on CNN June 28, out on DVD September 1

Gone Girl – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Guardians Of The Galaxy – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

The Hobbit:  The Battle Of The Five Armies – March 24

How To Train Your Dragon 2 – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Ida – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

The Imitation Game – March 31

Inherent Vice – April 28

Interstellar – March 31 but still playing in theatres

Into The Woods – March 24, but still playing in theatres

The Judge – January 27

Last Days In Vietnam – April 28

Leviathan – May 19

The Lego Movie – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Maleficent – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Mr. Turner – May 5

Nightcrawler – February 10

The Salt Of The Earth – Opening in theatres March 27 July 14

Selma – May 5

Song Of The Sea – March 17

Still Alice – May 12

The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya – February 17

Tangerines – July 21

The Theory Of Everything – February 17

Timbuktu – June 9 (DVD), June 23 (Blu-ray)

Two Days, One Night – April 21  August 25

Unbroken – March 24

Virunga – Now playing on Netflix

Whiplash – February 24

Wild – March 31

Wild Tales – June 16

X-Men: Days Of Future Past – Now available on DVD & Blu-ray

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, January 15, 2015
5:58 p.m.

UPDATE:  Citizenfour, the Edward Snowden documentary, is still playing in select cinemas but if you’re an HBO subscriber you can catch it the night after the Academy Awards on February 23rd at 9 p.m.  Special thanks to Twitter follower @LOLCat2014 for the HBO tip.  Meanwhile, Best Picture nominee Birdman is scheduled to come out on DVD & Blu-ray February 17th and Interstellar will hit home video on March 31st. Like Citizenfour, both films can be still seen, for the time being, in theatres.  All these dates have been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, January 25, 2015
1:47 a.m.

UPDATE 2:  Two Days, One Night (AKA Deux Jours, Une Nuit) is coming to DVD & Blu-ray April 21st.  The date has been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, February 8, 2015
4:47 p.m.

UPDATE 3:  Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken will be released on DVD & Blu-ray March 24th while Reese Witherspoon’s nominated turn in Wild will be out the following week on the 31st.  Both dates have been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, February 13, 2015
3:57 a.m.

UPDATE 4:  The Battle Of The Five Armies, the third & final chapter in The Hobbit trilogy, is pencilled in for a March 24 home video release.  The date has been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, February 15, 2015
1:53 a.m.

UPDATE 5:  The Imitation Game is coming to DVD & Blu-ray March 31.  The date has been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
2:38 a.m.

UPDATE 6:  According to its official Twitter account, Best Documentary Feature nominee Virunga is now available on Netflix.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, February 21, 2015
10:44 p.m.

UPDATE 7:  Inherent Vice will be released on home video on April 28 while Selma and Mr. Turner are both slated to debut on DVD & Blu-ray May 5.  The new dates have been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, March 14, 2015
10:51 p.m.

UPDATE 8:  You can see Julianne Moore’s Oscar-winning performance in Still Alice beginning May 12th when the film hits DVD & Blu-ray that day.  The new date has been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, March 23, 2015
1:54 p.m.

UPDATE 9:  American Sniper and Best Foreign Language Film nominee Leviathan are out May 19.  Timbuktu, another Foreign Language contender, will be released on DVD June 9 and then on Blu-ray June 23 while Wild Tales, another nominee in that category, will be available June 16.  The new dates have been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
3:53 a.m.

UPDATE 10:  Long after its initial limited theatrical release last September, Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me continues to be screened in select cinemas in both Canada & the United States.  Check the official website for where the film is currently playing and where it will be opening for the rest of April and the entirety of May.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, April 10, 2015
3:14 a.m.

UPDATE 11:  Best Foreign Language Film nominee Tangerines is coming to home video July 21.  The date has been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, April 25, 2015
6:00 p.m.

UPDATE 12:  Just noticed that Two Days, One Night has had its release pushed back to late summer.  Originally scheduled for April 21, it will now be released on DVD & Blu-ray August 25.  The change has been noted in the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, May 23, 2015
4:19 p.m.

UPDATE 13:  Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me can be seen on Sunday, June 28th at 9 p.m. on CNN with “limited commercial interruption” according to an ad running on the network.  It will be available commercial-free on DVD only September 1.  Meanwhile, Wim Wenders’ The Salt Of The Earth is coming to home video on July 14.  Finally, Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’ Oscar-winning documentary about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, will be released on DVD & Blu-ray September 8.  All these dates have been added to the list.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, June 25, 2015
2:31 a.m.

UPDATE 14:  Citizenfour’s release date has changed.  It will now be available August 25.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, July 31, 2015
4:03 a.m.

Published in: on January 15, 2015 at 5:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry

Larry Valentine is a worried man.  A third-generation firefighter and widow with two young kids, he doesn’t have any financial benefits to pass on to them in case he dies before they’re fully grown.  (How is he able to afford that lazy housekeeper, though?)  Not at all ready to start dating again (he’s still in love with his late wife who died three years ago under mysterious circumstances; he still keeps all her clothes in his bedroom closet), he ultimately comes up with what he thinks is the perfect solution:  have a fake, gay relationship with his best friend and fellow fireman Chuck Levine.  That way, Chuck gets the benefits after he dies and he can pass them onto Larry’s children.  (But what if Chuck dies before Larry?)

Chuck (Adam Sandler) owes Larry (Kevin James) big time.  While screwing around in a burned out building their Brooklyn company has just collectively put out, Larry saves his buddy’s life.  Reluctantly, the womanizing Chuck agrees to go with him to sign up for a domestic partnership.  Larry assures his sexist, violent, anti-gay pal (Chuck openly uses the word “faggot” without any hesitation) that everything will be kept on the down low.

Never anticipating that such an impromptu decision would trigger a routine public investigation into possible fraud (we learn they’re not the first to attempt this scam), Chuck & Larry find themselves in an impossible situation having to prove at every turn they’re really gay and really committed to each other.

And therein lies the fundamental problem with I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry.  We don’t buy them as a gay couple.  Hell, we don’t even buy them as friends.  How can we when Chuck is merciless towards Larry, constantly making fun of his weight, slapping him like a Stooge and cruelly imitating his dead wife’s voice, usually when they’re in Larry’s bed together.  (To make the ruse believable, Chuck moves in with Larry’s family temporarily.)

Clocking in at a punishing two hours, it takes forever for all but two characters in the movie to figure out what the entire audience is aware of from the very beginning.  Only Chuck & Larry’s fire chief (Dan Ackroyd) and a very nosy investigator with a patriotic fanny pack (Steve Buscemi) catch on right away.

Belatedly realizing they didn’t really think this stupid plan through, Chuck & Larry consult a lawyer (Jessica Biel).  The promiscuous Chuck (who gets most of his action because he’s Mr. February in a fireman’s calendar) falls in love with her the moment he meets her but, of course, he can’t doing anything about his feelings because he’s supposed to be Larry’s gay partner.  Biel & Sandler don’t have any chemistry anyway so it’s a moot point.  (As an aside, why is she always laughing at his terrible jokes?  Sigh, I digress.)

To put them at ease, she suggests they get married in Canada.  (At the time this film was made, New York didn’t have same-sex marriage laws, so how would this be recognized in the state exactly?)  So they drive to Niagara Falls, Ontario to get hitched by the most offensive character in the film, a Japanese bridal chapel minister played by Rob Schneider.  Yes, Rob Schneider.  Instead of casting an actual Asian actor, he’s in yellowface and speaks in a stereotypical accent.  (However, in a very funny, ironic moment near the end of the film, during a second wedding ceremony he makes an excellent point about Canada’s pioneering acceptance of gay marriage while taking a dig at America’s reticence about it.  It’s the biggest laugh in this mostly humourless travesty.)

As we all know, a marriage, be it gay or straight, isn’t considered official until the couple has sex.  It has to be consummated.  But obviously, Chuck & Larry don’t even dare to discuss this.  (They can’t even kiss each other, for God’s sake.)  They just come right back to New York hoping to fool the right people while still maintaining their regular heterosexual lives in front of everybody else.

That doomed plan inevitably falls apart when they’re invited by their lawyer to a gay masquerade party, a fundraiser for AIDS research.  When it’s over, they exit the building and are confronted by anti-gay religious demonstrators who chant “Gay is not the way!”  After taking one look at one weeping gay man being consoled by another, Chuck, now suddenly a protector of gay rights, tries to get the protesters to leave.  When they don’t, he slugs the minister (former Daily Show correspondent Rob Corddry) who twice calls him a “faggot”.  What a hypocrite.

On a slow news day, the incident makes the front page of The New York Post and now everybody knows about Chuck & Larry.  This leads to baffling scenes where once-loyal members of their firehouse don’t want to play basketball with them anymore (are they sure it’s not because they were always owning their asses on the court?) and at one point, even circulate an in-house petition insisting they be transferred.  Larry is told at his son’s school that he’s not welcome to coach Little League or be involved in any of his extracurricular activities.  Larry ends up assaulting the guy who tells him this.  Why not the screenwriters?

It’s not all bad.  Their well-intentioned charade inspires the quietly scowling new transfer to their firehouse (Ving Rhames) to reveal a predictable secret for the first time and when they face a public grilling over their relationship (overseen in a hearing by Richard Chamberlain, of all people), the gay community comes out to support them and to counter anti-gay protesters.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry is a very dumb, meanspirited movie for a whole lot of reasons but its biggest transgression, next to having only a handful of laughs (David Spade providing two of them in a very funny two-scene cameo), is its fake support for homosexuals.  It wants to use the shield of tolerance to get away with its insulting jokes.

Chuck & Larry have no real clue what it means to be discriminated against for your sexuality because at any moment they can confess the truth and it all stops.  They’re never beaten, they don’t lose their jobs (even the circulating firehouse petition permits them to work for a different company), they’re not kicked out of their homes and beyond one guy calling Chuck a “faggot”, they don’t face a barrage of verbal insults, either.  With the exceptions of a bold mailman (Robert Smigel) and a rude cop (ESPN’s Dan Patrick), they’re not even personally harassed.  So, how can they truly understand what it means to be gay?  (Firemen don’t want to play basketball with you anymore?  Big deal.  They weren’t worthy opponents, anyway.)

Their “acceptance” doesn’t seem the least bit genuine.  In fact, it feels awfully sudden.  (How and when did Larry become ok with his feminine son’s theatrical aspirations?)  It can take a considerable amount of time to reverse one’s views on any difficult subject, especially if the ones you have have been ingrained in you since childhood.  Chuck & Larry’s transformation feels more convenient than heartfelt.  Being an ally of the gay community means a whole lot more than simply renouncing the use of the word “faggot”.

There’s a scene during the AIDS fundraiser where Larry has to use the bathroom.  Dressed as an apple, possibly as an homage to those old Fruit Of The Looms underwear ads, he’s terrified about running into an actual gay man.  He checks every stall to make sure he’s alone.  He is and nothing happens.  Even if someone was in there, still nothing would’ve happened.  If he went back there at the end of the movie, wouldn’t he react the exact same way?

When Chuck & Larry try to figure out how to pass for gay, they rely on tired stereotypes.  Chuck once answers the phone not with a “hello?” but with a “balls and wieners”.   (Name one real gay person who says that.)  They both go shopping for Wham! and Liza Minnelli CDs.  (Come on.)  Meanwhile, New York Mets fan Larry is terrified that his son, who can do an incredible flat split, is more interested in tap dancing and singing show tunes, than playing baseball.  He should be more concerned with his son’s annoying vocals and bad taste in music.

Aside from the film’s awkward views on the gay community and masculinity (why is that being a violent thug is held up as an attribute in so many Adam Sandler movies?), there’s the awful sexism of Chuck and its blatant misrepresentation.  While in the hospital, he harasses his doctor who is insulted that he calls her “honey”.  But later on, there she is in his bedroom (how come him and Larry aren’t living at the fire station?) with a whole bunch of Hooters girls (including Tila Tequila) eager to please him sexually.  Honestly, is there anything less believable than Adam Sandler as a ladies man?  He’s not particularly handsome, he has a repellent personality, he isn’t funny at all and, as the Chuck character, sees women has nothing more than hypersexual playthings to use for his own gratification, not fully realized human beings to get close to.  (He orders & consumes an astonishing amount of porn.)

Sandler’s scenes with Jessica Biel, the world’s dumbest lawyer, are particularly painful to watch.  At one point, he compliments her body (she strips down to a bra and panties right in front of him after they both come inside her place completely soaked from an outside rainfall) and she insists her breasts are real.  This leads to an uncomfortable feel test that goes on way too long.  The fact that she has a gay brother (the overly flamboyant Nick Swardson) makes you wonder why she’s not more skeptical of the transparently bogus Chuck & Larry.

Much has changed since the release of I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry in 2007.  Many American states now allow same-sex marriage including New York.  More public figures in predominantly heterosexual fields are coming out and being accepted.  Even a number of Republicans support it, mostly because of gay family members.

Despite the persistence of dwindling prejudice, it still seems a bit of a stretch that an entire firehouse, even if it was remotely persuasive that Chuck & Larry were gay, would give two shits about their sexuality.  (None of them seem to have an opinion about gays in general until the release of the New York Post story.  And all of them are fully informed of their very real heterosexual histories.)  To be overly generous, maybe a few would be upset but an entire company?  Highly unlikely.

For a film so oblivious of its conflicted, and at times, off-puttingly preachy tone (Ackroyd’s tolerance speech at the hearing is far from sincere considering his earlier decision to have Chuck & Larry work on separate shifts), it seems more than aware of how boring it is.  A number of lifeless scenes are scored, sometimes quietly, with catchy, familiar pop songs:  Genesis’ Follow You Follow Me, Radiohead’s High & Dry, PM Dawn’s Set Adrift On Memory Bliss.  It says a lot about this movie that I wanted them to crank up the jams and turn off the dialogue.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, January 2, 2015
4:55 p.m.

Published in: on January 2, 2015 at 4:55 pm  Comments (2)