July 20, 2007, - 2:54 pm
Weekend Box Office: Race Musical w/ Fat Travolta, Gay Marriage Commercial, Islamic-Jewish Kumbaya Marriage
By Debbie Schlussel
It’s chock full o’ PC at the box office, this weekend. From in-your-face race musical, “Hairspray,” to dumb gay marriage commercial, “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry,” to silly kumbaya Jewish-Muslim relationship comedy, “David & Layla,” there’s an overwhelming agenda from the left dominating the silver screen. While it isn’t completely rolled out yet, nationwide (and won’t be until next Friday), the best movie, by far, this summer–the best movie of the year–is “Rescue Dawn,” and I’ve written extensive background info on the movie. My review of that movie, later today or Monday.
For now, there are these three rejects:
* “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry“–Remember “Soul Man,” starring ’80s heart-throb C. Thomas Howell? He takes tanning pills to impersonate a Black man and get a minority scholarship to pay for Harvard Law School. In the end, we’ve been set up. We are supposed to see the error of his ways and sympathize with the impoverished, struggling Black single-mother (Rae Dawn Chong) who lost the scholarship to Howell. We’re supposed to realize at the end of the dumb, PC-comedy that affirmative action for minorities is the right thing to do.
Well “Chuck & Larry” is more of the same, but even dumber and far more tasteless and absurd. And it’s gross. Sorry, but I don’t need a naked male butt in my face every five minutes. That’s more suited for George Michael’s VCR. And not for a PG-13 movie–far too lenient given the very explicit content–to which far too many parents took their young kids at the screening I attended.
I had looked forward to this comedy about two New York City firemen who pretend to be in a gay domestic partnership, so one of them can legally change his pension beneficiary to his children. But, as with all Adam Sandler comedies, this one was a let-down, a groaner, and a complete waste of time. Don’t let the trailer fool you. The best jokes are in it and the rest is trash. Digusting, tasteless, and mostly not funny (I laughed a few times, but not enough), I don’t recommend this one in the least.
In the end–and actually, throughout–we are supposed to feel bad for gays as discriminated against victims of the rest of us. We are supposed to scream from the roof-tops for more understanding for gays and leap to establish gay marriage for all. Sorry, but I don’t need to be lectured to–especially by Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Dan Ackroyd, and Jessica Biel–on right and wrong. They establish very well in this “film” that they haven’t a clue. Nor any sense in picking scripts.
Sandler and James are suspected of gay marriage fraud by a New York City official (Steve Buscemi), and they hire sexy lawyer Biel (who, surprise, has a gay brother). Sandler, a ladies man, falls in love with Biel, but both men have everyone fooled. In the end–surprise!–they do the right thing. Only funny thing in this movie was Rob Schneider impersonating an Asian man who performs their Canadian gay marriage. And even that was not funny and extremely tasteless.
Comedies should be that–comedies. That means, funny and entertaining. Not sick, stupid political sledgehammers repeatedly hitting you over the head, after you’ve paid $10 for the privilege.
Skip this. Not worth the time. Or money.
* “Hairspray“: This is a musical remake of the John Waters 1988 original. As is often the case, I’m annoyed that Hollywood has so little creativity left that it makes remakes of movies based on broadway musicals based on original movies. This is one of those.
While it surpasses the original movie, there really was no reason to remake “Hairspray.” This version is mildly entertaining, though it’s way too long, overwrought, and overly cartoonish and one-dimensional. Everyone is a stick-straight racist stereotype. Yup, that’s what all thin, blonde, blue-eyed, pretty women are in America: racists.
The story: In early ’60s Baltimore–when race demonstrations are in their infancy, Tracy Turnblad, a morbidly obese blob of a girl loves to watch the local TV dance show, “The Corny Collins Show.” She then auditions for the show and makes it, despite her, uh, girth. Everyone else on the show is skinny and beautiful, including Amber Von Tussle, and her mother Velma Von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer), an evil, plotting, racist blonde and the General Manager of the TV station. Velma plots to keep Tracy off the show and to end “Negro Day,” a once a month Black dance show on the station, led by Queen Latifah’s record store owner.
In the midst of all this, Tracy wants to become “Miss Hairspray” and is in love with Linc, a star of the Corny show. Her best friend, Penny Pingleton, also the daughter of a Christian, Bible-thumping racist (all Christians are racists in Hollywood, you dig?), falls for a Black dancer from Negro Day.
The musical singing is entertaining as are the sets and the wardrobe. But the in-your-face storyline, tweaked into more of a race-based conflict than the original is annoyingly preachy and moralizing. Yes, there was racism. But this is 2007, and Hollywood prefers instead to focues on early ’60s Baltimore and race issues, which frankly seem dated and, again, a tool for moralizing to Americans how racist we are.
Then there is the issue of being morbidly obese. I’m sure most Black Americans would be disturbed to note that a large theme of this movie is that discrimination against fat people is the same as discrimination against skin color. The very fat Tracy Turnblad and her equally obese mother (played by an amateurish, flat John Travolta in drag and a fat suit) compare their plight (made of their own making, er . . . eating and lack of exercise) to being Black. Sorry, ain’t the same thing.
Then, there’s the very unappealing factor of watching this giant, fat girl dancing, including in strapless dresses. Sorry, that’s not to be celebrated. It’s just gross. Watching Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) dancing with all of her myriad of rolls and jiggles is like watching a lop-sided “Weeble Wobble.” (“Weebles Wobble, But They Don’t Fall Down.”) Not sure why America should be celebrated “Women of Size,” especially when America’s become fatter than ever and self-control in caloric intake is at an all-time low and unfairly blamed on food purveyors.
John Waters, Ricki Lake, and Jerry Stiller from the original 1988 “Hairspray,” make cameos in this one.
* “David & Layla“: Silly comedy–which mostly groans along–about a Jewish man who seeks to marry a Muslim Kurdish woman. Read my complete review.
Tags: Adam Sandler, Amber Von Tussle, America, Baltimore, Black dancer, C. Thomas Howell, Dan Ackroyd, David & Layla, Debbie Schlussel It, food purveyors, Gay Marriage, General Manager, George Michael, Hairspray, Harvard Law School, Jerry Stiller, Jessica Biel, John Travolta, John Waters, Kevin James, Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer, New York City, Nikki Blonsky, Penny Pingleton, Queen, Rae Dawn Chong, record store owner, Rescue Dawn, Ricki Lake, Rob Schneider, sexy lawyer, Soul Man, Steve Buscemi, Tracy Turnblad, TV, USD, Velma Von Tussle