by Matt Seaver
I didn’t have high expectations for “Click.” Hell, I didn’t have ANY expectations for “Click.” The trailer looked slightly more amusing than Sandler’s typical crap, but not so much that I’d put money down. I figured the moments that made me giggle did so because they were contained within a three-minute clip, not a two-hour film. Boy, I was right. Despite the high concept with universal (zing!) appeal, this is a film made specifically for Adam Sandler’s pre-existing fan base. They’ll like it. If you don’t like Sandler, stay far, far away.Sandler plays Billy Mad… er… Happy Gil… shit… MICHAEL… Michael Newman, an architect who is on the cusp of becoming a partner at his firm. To get to that point, he’s worked his ass off, trying to balance demands from his boss (David Hasselhoff), his wife (Kate Beckinsale… yeah, I know), his kids and his parents (Henry Winkler and Julie Kavner). Unfortunately, most of his time goes to work, which angers the family, which stresses Michael out, etc, etc. Eventually, in a symbolic effort to make his life simpler, Michael makes a midnight run to Bed, Bath and Beyond to find the universal remote of his dreams, which will control the TV, the garage door, the ceiling fan, the kid’s toys, his neighbor’s car, and his kids’ hair growth. There he meets Morty (Christopher Walken) a Doc Brown ripoff who gives Michael a very special new product – a remote that controls his universe. Now Michael’s life has never been easier – he can savor the moments he wants to remember, and skip what he doesn’t want to experience. But everything goes to hell when the remote starts “learning” Michael’s habits, and skipping huge amounts of time that he didn’t want to miss.
"Newsflash: Dogs humping stuffed animals? Apparently hilarious!"
So yes, the premise is just as pointless on film as those last few lines look on paper. Click’s biggest (but certainly not only) downfall is that the film’s pattern mimics Michael’s. Once the premise is established – “I can fast-forward through life!” – viewers could easily skip 15-minute sections of the film, and know they’ve only missed the same thing they’re now seeing. It’s a one-trick pony. It’s a gag that’s funny once or twice – one or two of the pause antics are amusing, especially when they involve Hasselhoff (and no, not the fart joke) – but when you stretch it out to two full hours without trailers, it wears very, very thin. It also doesn’t help that the same joke is made multiple times – specifically the 15-second sex session between Beckinsale and Sandler, and the family dog’s attraction to a giant plush duck. Repetition may be one route to comedy, but you have to make sure that you start with something humorous in the first place. So because of that, the film never really gets a chance to build the least bit of momentum – every time it looks to advance the bare-bones story, it runs headlong into some joke it already told, and grinds to a halt.
It also has a great supporting cast, and fails to do much of anything with them. It’s a sad, sad day when I can say that David Hasselhoff stole a film. He plays Sandler’s boss with so much over-the-top sleaze that it’s impossible not to laugh, even if only out of pure disgust. His reactions, even to some of the most juvenile of humor, are comic gold. Walken is here, playing that Christopher Walken character that he’s been having so much fun with these past few years, though this one isn’t nearly as fun in his craziness as past roles. It may just be that Walken has done this so many times now, or it may be the script, or something else altogether. For Kate Beckinsale, I can only ask “why?” As Michael’s wife, she’s here to be sexy arm candy, and to try to add some emotional depth to their relationship, but that’s not even able to happen, because there’s never any time allowed to set a standard for the marriage. As such, she comes off simply as somewhat unappreciative of a husband who is busting his ass to provide for a family – an asshole of a husband, to be sure, but that’s no excuse. She’s not really given any room to be funny or real in her own right, which would have only helped the film had she been allowed to do so.
Sitting in an advanced screening about three quarters of the way through the film, I had basically given up all hope for this one. And then something amazing happened. At about the 90-minute mark, it stopped sucking. At that point, we’re significantly in the future, thanks to Michael’s remote-gone-haywire, and Michael, now aged sixty years, is seriously depressed about the state of his life, most of which he can’t even remember. And there’s a glimmer of the Sandler that has been seen in Punch-Drunk Love and (so I’ve been told) Spanglish. For about twenty minutes, the film gets serious and allows some real family moments and gains some decent emotional weight, right up until a big turning point that I think would have been a perfect ending for the film. His family would have understood his mistakes in life, just as Michael did, and he would have accepted the consequences of his actions and his choices. But instead, Sandler, director Frank Coraci and the writing team throw the film on the ground and skull-fuck it with the worst possible cliché they could have chosen. I won’t spoil that remarkable revelation for you, but needless to say I still have a sore spot on the back of my head from banging it against the seat back. It was one of the most infuriating moments I’ve had in a theater. Just when I was starting to see this film as more than worthless, the makers torpedoed it to the lowest level yet, and that’s the note it ended on.
The one thing I do want to emphasize: Sandler’s fans will enjoy this film. It is in the same vein as Happy Gilmore, I would say, and not a lot has changed in Sandler’s style as he nears his 40th birthday. If you’ve liked what you’ve seen from him so far, this will be right up your alley. But after projects like the two mentioned above, this is a huge step in the wrong direction for Adam Sandler.This film will make $150 million, and there are probably an awful lot of people who will enjoy it, because they’ve enjoyed previous Sandler films, and this is in that same vein. I am very much not one of these people. For me, this was a cinematic nightmare, made even worse by a false glimmer of hope that he might have pulled off a clunky-but-workable transition to end the film with some dignity. In the end, “Click” is no better than any of the films he’s done previously, and probably worse than some of them. The trailer just hides it a little better.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14721&reviewer=412
originally posted: 06/24/06 00:24:23