Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
by Jessica Carreras
Adam Sandler’s movies aren’t exactly known for supporting gay rights. Or anyone’s rights, for that matter. So it’s no surprise that moviegoers are wary of his newest film, “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry,” a controversial comedy opening July 20 that centers on LGBT rights, particularly same-sex marriage.
But don’t make any judgments just yet.
“Comedy has a unique way of opening people’s eyes and helping them connect to simple truths,” says Damon Romine, entertainment media director for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, an organization dedicated to fair and accurate portrayal of gays and lesbians in the media. “Part of what makes ‘Chuck & Larry’ interesting is the way it could help straight audiences understand the experiences of gay couples and question how anyone could continue to support laws that put them in harm’s way.”
Being in harm’s way, of course, is exactly what the movie, about two straight Brooklyn firefighters who seek a domestic partnership and eventually get hitched in Canada, centers around. The reason for the faux-romance? Recently-widowed Larry is about to lose the ability to pass his pension benefits on to his kids – that is, unless he gets remarried. He remains unscathed until he and Chuck, a self-proclaimed ladies’ man, narrowly escape from a fire. Unable to even fathom marrying another woman, Larry gets down on one knee for Chuck, asking for his help.
While some see it as a loving hand-offering story, others, especially those in the LGBT community, worry that it will send the wrong message about same-sex couples and the fight for their right to marry.
Wary of such problems, Sandler’s production company, Happy Madison, and Universal Studios asked GLAAD to watch the movie and assess its representation of gay men. Though the majority of the movie remained the same, Romine said that GLAAD was pleased to be a part of the process. “At the end of the day … studios are going to make the movies they want to make,” he explained. “But when the studios ask for GLAAD’s input, there is an interest in better representing LGBT lives.”
Romine also insists that much of the concern over LGBT representation in the film stems from a misguided view, caused by audiences basing their opinions of the movie solely on the trailer. “What may appear to some as problematic in a 30-second commercial is not necessarily problematic in the context of a two-hour film,” he warned.
Some, however, are still distrustful. “While I am glad to see that there is a popular movie featuring gay marriage being produced, I am not sure how it will impact people’s perception of the issue,” said Kevin Gahman, 18, of Brownstown. “As a gay man, I feel that this movie will only entertain the public, not help the cause of legalizing gay marriage.”
For the most part, Romine agrees, stating that the movie should be looked at foremost as a comedy for Adam Sandler fans, not a shout-out to same-sex couples and gay marriage. He does, however, believe that “Chuck & Larry” will reach a key audience of straight men who may otherwise be homophobic. “In the context of this movie, the filmmakers are shining a spotlight on the ugliness of homophobia,” he said, explaining that Sandler’s experience with a gay family member has made him want to spread a message of equality.
Recent releases like “Talladega Nights” and “Big Daddy,” which both featured central gay characters, aimed at accomplishing the same task, albeit in a subtle way – something both Gahman and Romine applaud. “If there were more movies that featured gay marriage in everyday life, I believe they would make a bigger impact on increasing the acceptance of it,” Gahman said.
Moreover, Romine sees it as a positive step toward acceptance. “I can’t imagine a studio movie being made five years ago that even dealt with marriage equality and the discrimination that same-sex couples face on a daily basis in this country,” he said. “Through the disarming use of comedy … it holds a mirror up to that and asks people to consider where (homophobia) comes from.”