Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Review of a Review of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

[I want to try out some mini-posts. I want to see if this is a good or a stupid idea. These will not interfere with my regular posting schedule: Comics Out will be up later today, when I have gotten and read the comics.]

The Village Voice's Nathan Lee reviews I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. He writes: "Tremendously savvy in its stupid way, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is as eloquent as Brokeback Mountain, and even more radical. " The review then goes on to back this point up, demonstrating how the film carries a positive social agenda to the un-adventurous Adam Sandler comedy demographic.

That is all very well. Fine. But back to First Principles. I have said over and over here that before you get to your theory or message or theme or idea you must deliver the basics: story, character, and the demands of the genre you are working on, if you are working in a genre.

I am glad, if Nathan Lee is right, that I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry carries a good social message to people that might not otherwise hear it. But it is a COMEDY and so its first job is to be FUNNY. I have no idea whether it is funny because Nathan Lee failed to tell me if it was funny, surely a top priority in a movie review of a comedy.


Not Ultros said...

Interestingly enough, this review at AICN:
targets the film first for being too obvious and stupid in its social message, and then for being not funny.

That's probably the order the producers put their goals in (social awareness THEN humor) too.

Jason Powell said...

Good point about the failing of the review, Geoff. I agree with you in the general sense, although in this specific case I think we all know that "Chuck and Larry" isn't funny without having to be told.

Have you seen the preview when Jessica Biel takes off most of her clothes in Adam Sandler's presence, and then lets him feel her boobs -- because she thinks his character is gay, you see, so she's totally casual about it. Meanwhile Sandler has to contain his excitement or else he'll give away his secret straightness.

So clever! No movie has ever done this exact same scene before, not once in the history of movies -- I could never have predicted just from hearing about the premise that this film would contain such an uproarious and novel scene.

(Sorry. I'm irritable lately.)

scott s said...

the review is stupid and narcissistic and I bet the movie sucks, but I dont agree with your criticism. Why defend reviewers that stick to their screenwriting guide's first principles? That would be boring! They might as well become statisticians!

The fact that it's a Hollywood movie with Adam Sandler tells me more than i need to know about story, character, genre. its a spirited misreading that'll get me to see it! this particular one's not great, but good reviews of mediocre movies transcend first principles.

subject effect said...

But Geoff, do you really think Lee's target audience really cares whether or not it's funny so much as they care what kind of political message it holds for queer people? I mean, I already know that the probability of my finding an Adam Sandler movie funny is pretty damn low, but I was curious as to whether I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry would actually ending up being poltiically subversive in its own way. I don't like Lee's writing style at all, but at the same time, I feel like he answered the major question I had.

Honestly, I would need to see the movie to know whether or not I disagree with Lee, and that's probably going to do more to get me to see it than someone telling me yet another Adam Sandler movie is uprorious fun for his target audience. Really though, I'll probably diverge in my opinion from someone who thinks Brokeback Mountain was either insightful or politically radical. And, from Lee's review, the "big message" of Chuck and Larry seems about as numbingly puerile and droll as Brokeback's. Who knows? If I can find Chuck and Larry online (without too much work) I'll probably give it a look see.

Incidentally, Geoff, did you see it? And, if so, what did you think of it?