Is there life after 'I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry'?
July 19, 2007 2:17 PM   Subscribe

In light of the horrendously awful "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry," are there any GOOD (i.e. both funny and non-homophobic) comedies about straight people either having to pretend they're gay or, more generally, about straight people slowly but surely letting go of their prejudices towards LGBT people?

I saw an advanced screening of INPYCAL recently, and am still in disbelief of just how awful it is, and in disbelief that post-Brokeback Hollywood still seems to believe that a. all gay people prance about and/or wear leather and feather boa's, and b. that we're supposed to be grateful that Adam Sandler will lecture his fanbase about how the word "faggot" is hurtful. I'm no pc fuddy-duddy, but this movie's totally non-ironic depiction of gay people as all being silly, silly people sets us back about 20 years - is there any movie that's both funny and progressive that I could recommend to a friend in its place? It can totally poke fun at gay culture, again, it need not be super-p.c., but it better be defensible. (I've heard of Happy, Texas, but some reviews say they basically portray gay people as helpful comic foils in that film as opposed to actual people - any thoughts?)
posted by Ash3000 to Media & Arts (42 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Three To Tango.
posted by teleskiving at 2:23 PM on July 19, 2007

Hit post a bit early there. Matthew Perry's character has to pretend he's gay, from what I remember it's a pretty decent movie and I don't remember finding it at all homophobic.
posted by teleskiving at 2:24 PM on July 19, 2007

Three's Company?
posted by dersins at 2:26 PM on July 19, 2007

What about In & Out?
posted by ALongDecember at 2:26 PM on July 19, 2007

The movie CAMP is about a musical theatre camp for teens, but deals with sexuality issues pretty well.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:32 PM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Victor Victoria
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:34 PM on July 19, 2007

La Cage Aux Folles (the original is better than the virtually frame-by-frame American remake, Birds of a Feather - sharper, more sly - but I didn't wholly dislike the US version).

I'm sorry to hear Chuck & Larry is as vile as you say. I'd assumed it was going to be revolting - then started picking up on some oddly positive vibes. Guess I was fooled by some defensive PR.

Even my teenage sons really loved La Cage Aux Folles for the intended reasons - which is no back-handed compliment. They were going through a crappy, Neanderthal phase & I was beginning to despair they'd grow up!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 2:36 PM on July 19, 2007

The Opposite of Sex
posted by ColdChef at 2:39 PM on July 19, 2007

how about But I'm a Cheerleader
posted by gnutron at 2:39 PM on July 19, 2007

Kiss Me Guido. Silly and a little stereotypical, but it has a good heart and is quite funny.
posted by Shecky at 2:42 PM on July 19, 2007

french movie, The Closet ? i vaguely remember the movie, but homophobia wasn't really the central issue anyway.

ive never seen this one, but Strange Bedfellows is the same movie but australian, though apparently it's debatable as to who stole the premise from whom {chuck and larry was originally cast with will smith, 2000}.

hopefully i'll remember more later. good luck.
posted by rmrudy at 2:48 PM on July 19, 2007

but Strange Bedfellows is the same movie but australian, though apparently it's debatable as to who stole the premise from whom

“Dean Murphy, director and co-writer of Strange Bedfellows, which was Australia's highest-grossing film in 2004 according to the Brisbane Times, is concerned that filmmakers involved in I Now Pronounce you Chuck & Larry, which opens in the U.S. this weekend, may have ripped off his idea.

The Times reports: ‘Starring [Paul] Hogan and Michael Caton, Strange Bedfellows was about a straight cinema owner and a mechanic who pretend to be gay to claim a financial benefit.’

In Chuck & Larry, Adam Sandler and Kevin James play firefighters who pretend to be gay in order to claim domestic partner benefits from the city of New York.

According to the paper, ‘While he is yet to see the new movie, Murphy said he was struck by the similarities when he saw the trailer on the weekend. He heard other cinemagoers mention Strange Bedfellows as the trailer screened. Murphy has also been receiving emails every day saying Chuck and Larry seems like exactly the same film. 'It's obviously annoying if they have ripped the film off but until we see it, it's so hard to know,' he said. The American distributor of Strange Bedfellows is looking at possible copyright infringement. 'I don't think they've seen the other film yet but … they're going to have a careful look at it and see if there have been any breaches,' Murphy said.’”*
posted by ericb at 2:55 PM on July 19, 2007

The Birdcage is the American remake of La Cage Aux Folles. I never saw the original, but I thought the scenes with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane talking about their relationship to be surprisingly touching for what's otherwise a slapstick comedy.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:57 PM on July 19, 2007

Kissing Jessica Stein might be of interest to you.
posted by tastybrains at 3:00 PM on July 19, 2007

Another vote for Happy Texas, which I thought was charming and fun. Another little-seen movie you should check out is Strawberry and Chocolate, a Cuban film from 1994.

I loved Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, but it's more of a road trip/journey to self-acceptance than specifically about tolerance.
posted by O9scar at 3:10 PM on July 19, 2007

Sweet Home Alabama has a subplot where the main character outs a gay character that has been longtime friends with the other characters in the small town. While it's initially a shock, in the film's denouement, you realize that nobody really cares and the small town ain't so bad after all.

Reality Bites has a subplot where the gay character contemplates coming out to his parents.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:12 PM on July 19, 2007

Seconding The Birdcage / Thirding La Cage Aux Folles.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 3:15 PM on July 19, 2007

Not a movie, but the sitcom Kate & Allie had an episode where they pretended to be lesbian to avoid the rent increase for using a one-family apartment for two families. It turned into a very touching episode when the landlady turned out to be a lesbian in a long-term relationship. I still remember it as a fairly progressive, positive episode, although I may not have seen it since the original airdate of 1984.
posted by saffry at 3:17 PM on July 19, 2007

One more...

My Best Friend's Wedding ... Rupert Everett pretends he's straight to help Julia Roberts snatch Dermot Mulroney away from Cameron Diaz. Throughout the movie, Everett is the voice of reason to contrast against Roberts' hare-brained scheme.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:18 PM on July 19, 2007

...but then, Cool Papa Bell, poor Rupert virtually negated his lovely work in My Best Friend's Wedding by being forced to play the sympathetic gay foil to Madonna's hit-seeking ego in One True Thing. The latter was practically an unforgivable movie!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 3:32 PM on July 19, 2007

In "defense" of Hollywood, I'd like to point out that they represent pretty much all groups broadly and stereotypically.

Gays, hackers, football players, slam poets, pot smokers... The stereotypical traits of these people are played up in a lot of comedy because the intent is often to create a hilarious event rather than a lasting character.

When it comes to something like a gay character, I don't think the INPYC&L-style approach shows a lack of understanding of gay lifestyle... But calm, sedate, non-ostentatious gay guys just aren't that movie's type of funny. In that kind of movie, calm, sedate, non-ostentatious people are straight men (comedy straight men, not "non-gay" men), and are usually humiliated for comic effect. If the film-makers made a character like that gay, just to be fair or representative or whatever, then the question of "Why was that character portrayed as gay?" would surely come up.

I'm not saying that INPYC&L is a good or worthwhile film. I'm just saying that if you want draw conclusions about Hollywood from it, draw the conclusion that they pander to idiots to make money, not the conclusion that they don't understand or appreciate the realities of gay people's lifestyles.

And also try to remember that there are people out there who may never have taken a step toward "accepting" gay people, and that an Adam Sandler movie, with it's comedy and values aimed right at their narrow, ignorant world-view might be a suitable wake-up call for them, even if the more enlightened movie-goers respond it to it as fluff.
posted by chudmonkey at 3:35 PM on July 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

Saved is a teen comedy about christian evangelicals adapting after one of their own comes out.

The Wedding Banquet" explores gay stereotypes from several perspectives within an extended family. Each of the characters gets their worldview challenged, with unexpected results.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 3:55 PM on July 19, 2007

Seconding Kiss Me Guido. Very silly, but I loved it just the same.
posted by JaredSeth at 4:16 PM on July 19, 2007

Seconding The Wedding Banquet. Excellent film.
posted by Paragon at 4:21 PM on July 19, 2007

It might be a stretch, but some like hot might be relevant. it's "classic" and it's drag.
posted by prophetsearcher at 4:53 PM on July 19, 2007

french movie, The Closet ? i vaguely remember the movie, but homophobia wasn't really the central issue anyway.

This was the first one I thought of. There actually is a homophobia subplot, though; one of the characters (played by Gérard Depardieu, of all people) is a raging homophobe who spends a lot of time with the main (pretending-to-be-gay) character, and eventually comes to terms with his sensitive side.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:13 PM on July 19, 2007

Wedding Banquet. Forgot how good that one was.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 6:17 PM on July 19, 2007

Thirding The Closet (Le Placard). The best aspect of the film is that once the main character "outs" himself as gay (in order to avoid being fired), he never starts prancing around, lisping or otherwise affecting a gay demeanor. He just continues on as normal, totally unchanged -- and yet this new knowledge about his sexual orientation causes his co-workers to totally reinterpret his behavior and intentions. Suddenly he's seen as this wild, exotic creature, the subject of all manner of speculation -- when he hasn't changed at all! A sort of subtle comedy Hollywood seems incapable of producing anymore. Did I mention that his workplace is a condom manufacturer? Indeed!
posted by junkbox at 7:56 PM on July 19, 2007

You may be interested in Kinky Boots, although it concerns a drag queen and not a homosexuals.
posted by Yorrick at 7:58 PM on July 19, 2007

The Wedding Banquet was the first thing to come to mind when I saw this question.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:14 PM on July 19, 2007

Seconding gnutron: But I'm A Cheerleader is awesome.
posted by indienial at 9:15 PM on July 19, 2007

Victor/Victoria is a remake of a 1933 German film (k's instead of c's).
posted by brujita at 9:36 PM on July 19, 2007

Beautiful Thing is a lovely British film about two teenage boys who fall for each other and subsequently, come out of the closet. It's very touching and a really remarkable, sensitive film. One of the boys is quite a tough guy, a footballer, and comes from a working-class, single-dad household, so it breaks all kinds of stereotypes.
posted by SassHat at 10:50 PM on July 19, 2007

Another little-seen movie you should check out is Strawberry and Chocolate, a Cuban film from 1994.

Seconding. An excellent film.

The French film from 1997 Ma Vie En Rose is also good.
posted by misozaki at 1:14 AM on July 20, 2007

Oh, just remembered!

Billy Elliot is another good one.
posted by misozaki at 1:16 AM on July 20, 2007

I think different movies/tv shows/etc might do this differently for different people. I really think the most important thing is to have well-rounded portrayls of people- good, bad, whatever- as long as the characters seem like REAL people instead of somebody we're supposed to laugh at our look at in terms of how different they are from "normal" people.

An incredibly homophobic girl in my Gender Studies class finally had a wakeup call after watching Boys Don't Cry. She almost ran out of the room crying during the movie, and afterwards, I chatted with her in small-group discussion and she said "You know, this whole time I've been thinking that all of this stuff was set in stone. But it isn't. It really isn't, and I just felt sick thinking they were hurting him just because of something so stupid." She went on to take more advanced Gender Studies classes. That made me really happy. Any way people can get the message is good in my book.
posted by nuclear_soup at 5:32 AM on July 20, 2007

It's funny you should bring this up -- the only good review I've seen of Chuck & Larry was in The Village Voice.

Anyway, how about As Good as it Gets?

The Birdcage seems to be the opposite of what you're looking for; it's pretty much a queerface mince-o-mania. Philadelphia would fit the bill, but it has its own problems.
posted by Reggie Digest at 5:42 AM on July 20, 2007

BTW -- 'The Wedding Banquet' (nominated in 1993 for the Academy Award Best Foreign Language Film) was directed by Ang Lee and was responsible for bringing attention to him as a talented film maker to many in the U.S. His most recent success: 'Brokeback Mountain.' He's adored by many in the gay community for his sensitive and honest portrayal of gay men in these two films.
posted by ericb at 8:30 AM on July 20, 2007

Poltergay has a lot of straight-people-confronting-gay-culture themes. It's campy as hell and it's in French but I had a good time when I saw it.
posted by rhiannon at 11:49 AM on July 20, 2007

nthing The Closet (Le Placard). Saw it a long time ago, but it really does seem to fit your criteria and I can't think of anything that Daniel Auteuil has done that I haven't liked.
posted by nnk at 12:20 PM on July 20, 2007

The Sum of Us - Russell Crowe
posted by bystander at 12:57 AM on July 23, 2007

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