New York firefighter Chuck (Adam Sandler) agrees to enter into a civil partnership with his widowed crewmate Larry (Kevin James) so the latter can ensure his benefits are passed on to his children. It’s a set-up as muddled as the sexual politics of this mortifying would-be comedy, in which homosexuality is equated with femininity, femininity with breasts and virtue with a mean right hook. There are also lame fat gags and a comedy Japanese man of the sort that you thought had gone out with ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.
Facing a ‘Green Card’-style state investigation of their relationship (cue smokin’ hot lawyer Jessica Biel), Chuck and Larry become a cause célèbre in the supposed name of gay rights, fighting to win over their colleagues and the system. There are one or two neat ribbings of homophobia, including a shower-room soap-dropping scene filmed like ‘Jaws’, but given the mincing, minstrelised characterisations, you’d be excused for thinking no one involved in this had ever actually met a real, live homo.
The film is actually a paean to male friendship with a severe case of gay panic: its leads can declare their love for one another but the thought of a kiss inspires revulsion. (There’s less man-on-man action here than in ‘Philadelphia’.) That said, the lengths to which the picture goes to establish Chuck’s world-beating red-bloodedness – if he’s not fielding hundredweights of porn, he’s fighting off nympho twins – smacks of nothing so much as the closet.