I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
I’ve been itching to see this movie for quite some time, not just because of its obvious delve into gay territory but because it stars Kevin James – in my opinion one of TV’s most adorable bears.
Kevin James plays the part of Larry, a widowed fireman who struggles to balance work and taking care of his two kids. His firefighting partner Chuck (Adam Sandler) is the complete opposite, enjoying the single life and seducing the ladies with surprising proficiency. The two men are the pride of their fire station, and many of their peers owe their lives to these men.
With his busy life and dealing with the death of his wife, Larry missed his window of opportunity to update his life insurance so that his children are listed as the beneficiaries. He is told there are only two circumstances under which this can be changed: death and marriage. Unfortunately Larry has been unable to move on, and has no female prospects in his life. But after saving Chuck’s life in a near-fatal building collapse, and nearly getting killed himself, Larry soon gets an idea how his friend can repay him.
Larry assures Chuck that the domestic partnership will only be on paper, long enough for him to update his life insurance policy. They make a quick trip to the registry to sign the documents, and then return to their subsequent lives as usual. But a few days later, a spot-checking bureaucrat comes around sniffing for fraud, and Larry has to tighten Chuck’s leash as both their asses are now on the line.
The two go to great lengths to maintain their appearance as a gay couple in front of the inspectors and their female lawyer (who Chuck secretly has the hots for), but after Chuck takes a stand against an anti-gay picketer, their “secret” gets out to everyone.
Naturally things are awkward at work, and the two experience some discrimination from people that once looked up to them. However the mysterious Duncan (Ving Rhames), shrouded in rumors regarding his transfer from another precinct, is inspired by his colleagues Chuck and Larry and decides to come out of the closet to them.
For me, the highlight of this movie was the shower scene where we not only get to see Kevin James in nothing but a towel, but also the muscular Ving Rhames puts on a hilarious musical number as he showers and picks up the soap that his terrified colleagues have dropped. Nice ass!
Aside from that, I found the movie to be a bit disappointing. It seemed like it teetered on the verge of a comedy and a drama, and yet it really wasn’t that funny, and all the potential sad and heart-warming moments were completely underplayed. It remained well within the straight comfort zone - its portrayal of the gay community was a little stereotypical, but then again, the reaction from the main characters to those stereotypes was accepting. The ending was unlikely, and the moral of the story was a bit unclear, but it presented a number of gay issues to a mainstream audience and that is not an easy thing to pull off gracefully.
When Boys Fly
This documentary follows 4 gay men as they attend the 2000 Miami White Party, giving a brutally honest portrayal of the drug culture and its after-effects. Tone Desario is a 21 year old struggling with drug addictions and alcoholism; Brandon Delcampo is a 23 year old who classifies himself as a circuit party virgin – he has never attended such an event, and is wary of the negative influences at such events; Todd Nash, 35, and his 19-year-old boyfriend Jon have been part of the party scene for over a decade, but stay away from party drugs after both had a near-death experience.
The filmmakers maintain an impressively neutral stance, showing a matter-of-fact portrayal of the party scene without introducing their own spin in any particular direction. Throughout this film, a number of people are interviewed, outside our core group of four guys. Some share their horror stories about drug usage gone bad, and the friends they have lost. One man found his roommate dead after passing out in the shower and suffocating. Others talk about their party drugs as a way of life – something ordinary, that they have no intention of giving up. One 35-year-old seems almost proud of the fact that he has been taking ecstasy for over a decade, and can no longer get a high from a regular dose. He still does it, but regrets how much he has to pay to get a decent high.
Tone is a bundle of energy and is described by his friends as the life of the party, but he has promised himself and his roommate that he will not do drugs this time. He is worried that he still hasn’t figured out what to do with himself in college, and acknowledges that his life is in a shambles. He rides to Miami in the same car with Brandon, but Tone ditches him as soon as he can once they arrive.
Brandon has always been a loner but he is determined to face his fears this weekend. Being on his own in the gay village is enough to put him out of his comfort zone. He bumps into a group that invites him along with them to buy clothes in preparation for the party later that night – Brandon is clearly not aware of how seriously many people take these events.
Meanwhile Todd and Jon are enjoying the bliss of their relationship and setting their limits for the night. Todd has a history of cheating on his past boyfriends, and Jon has only agreed to go to the party on the condition that he will be the most important thing to Todd that night.
The party gets started and at first everyone seems to be having a great deal of fun. All too quickly, Brandon is offered drugs quite forcibly. He comments on the peer pressure and feelings of jealousy and exclusion that come when everyone around you is taking the drugs. But he refuses, and in the end has no problems fitting in, appearing to have just as much fun as everyone else around him. But Tone is only putting on a happy façade as his habits start to pull at him. Soon he goes in search of his rave buddy, someone who Tone knows and trusts, who makes the unanimous decision both will dose up on GHP and go about their partying. Todd eventually wanders away from Jon, and is soon caught sneaking off with another guy. Jon is inconsolable and breaks up with Todd later that night.
As the party goes on into the wee hours of the morning, we start to see the not-so-pretty face of party drugs: those who become overly aggressive in trying to hook up, those who are disoriented from having far too much, and those who are taken away by an ambulance before the night is over.
I highly recommend this film, to our younger generation especially. It attempts to peel away the parasitic drug scene from the underbelly of the party scene – two things so intertwined that they are often treated as synonymous – so that we can examine them separately. It shows how the party scene still has value for those who need to find recreation, while exposing the risks and destructive nature of the drug scene and its effect on the lives of those mired within it.
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