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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Click

I would never have believed it if I didn’t see it myself, but Click clicked. I had already seen the preview for this Adam Sandler movie at least thirty times in the past couple of months and I was certain I had seen enough of the movie from that to get the whole premise and then some. The ad showed what appeared to be the bare bones of the movie’s plot in less than a minute: Adam Sandler is a busy executive who gets a magical remote control that allows him to fast forward, pause, and rewind his life at his every whim. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Okay, so it shows him pausing his boss long enough to punch him in the head a few times and then stand innocently by when he reanimates the guy to a sudden unexplained headache. The very fact that the boss is played by David Hasslehoff is cause enough to cheer. I can’t imagine anyone who needs to be sucker-punched more than Hasslehoff for no other reason than he has just never accepted the fact that he is nothing more an annoying caricature of Ted McKinley, which means he is basically a vortex with hair. But I digress.

The clip also shows a whiny snot of a boy making fun of Sandler’s son Ben’s ability to play catch, followed by Sandler freezing the annoying brat in mid-catch, moving his arm, and restarting the action so that his son’s pitch hits directly in the creepy neighbor kid’s face. Then there’s even the obligatory moment when Sandler hits ‘slow-mo’ to enjoy the jogging model with the enormous free-range breasts bouncing all over the place. Yes, laughs galore. How could I not think this looked like just another Adam Sandler comedy, along the lines of Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison? To be honest, I wasn’t excited in the least to see Click, but I made my way to the Essex Cinemas more as a matter of duty than in expecting great entertainment.

I admit it. I’ve never been a fan of Sandler. He’s always come across in his films as some kind of frat boy with an undiagnosed personality disorder that tries too hard to make everybody laugh, so it was a real pleasure to see that in Click he has grown up sufficiently and is now playing an honest-to-God adult.

Here he is Michael Newman, a workaholic architect who is so wrapped up in making partner in the firm where he toils that he has little time for his devoted wife Donna (Kate Beckinsale; Underworld Evolution) and his children, seven year old Ben (Joseph Castanon) and five year old Samantha (Tatum McCann). Vacations are routinely postponed, weekend plans abandoned, and family projects put-off indefinitely because of Michael’s obsession to get to the top of his field, and it is as a result of a seemingly chance encounter with Morty (who better than the inevitably odd Christopher Walken; Pulp Fiction) in the ‘Beyond’ department of a Bed, Bath & Beyond that he inherits a unique “not yet on the market” universal remote control.

This leads to all sorts of silliness that one expects in a typical Adam Sandler movie as outlined above, but soon the story turns unexpectedly dark, and here is where the film - and Sandler - grow most interesting. The remote is “auto-programmed” to adapt to what its’ user has done with it previously, and suddenly Michael finds that many of the familial moments he fast-forwarded through when working to make partner are now skipping past him without his wanting them too. He is missing dinners with his kids, sex with his wife, time with his parents (played incredibly well by long-time pros Julie Kavner, tv's The Simpsons and Henry Winkler, Holes). Time is literally whizzing by, and before he knows it, he is faced with a future where his wife has made a new life for herself and his children, now adults, have become people he doesn’t even recognize. After one of these “jumps”, which his family knows nothing about, Michael reacts to the news that his beloved dog of many years has died, a fact looked at quite oddly by the others since this happened (for them) years ago. Dad has obviously gone ‘round the bend.

Without spoiling the climax of the story I’m guessing you can imagine that this life out of control is headed to only one end, and when the journey reaches its’ finale there is a heavy moral lesson offered up to the audience, perhaps almost more bluntly than is necessary. The parallels to It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Carol are obvious throughout, with a strolling Walken, along with an occasional commentary by the disembodied voice of James Earl Jones, stepping in for Scrooge as he/they point out the flaws in Michael’s life and relationships.

Click, for me, was a huge gamble for Sandler. I had already composed snide commentary on
what I thought I would see, something along the lines of Click doesn’t” or “Click is ick”, chortling at what an unfortunate title the studio had given the movie since it would make this typical Sandler bag of flaming poo so easy to ridicule. Instead, it seems the joke is on me. Adam Sandler has fooled us all and made the cross-over to sensitive artist on screen. That’s going to kill a whole lot of Little Nicky fans, but it definitely Clicks with me and I think if you give it a chance by checking it out while it's now playing at the Essex Cinemas you'll find it just might Click for you.

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