|Adam Sandler||Michael Newman|
|Kate Beckinsale||Donna Newman|
|Henry Winkler||Ted Newman|
|David Hasselhoff||Mr. Ammer|
|Julie Kavner||Trudy Newman|
|Directed by||Frank Coraci|
Among the infinite number of ways to subdivide humanity, here is one to consider: people can be divided into A) those who think farting in someone?s face is good comic material, and B) those who don?t. If you chose category B, you can skip Adam Sandler?s new movie Click, and probably the rest of this review as well. If you identify with A, read on.
Sandler, the former SNL comic who has parlayed arrested development into an entertainment empire, is growing older, and beginning to carry his persona into the territory nominally inhabited by adults. Steve Koren and Mark O?Keefe, the writing partners responsible for Bruce Almighty (2003), the Jim Carrey vehicle about a man who gets to be God and change the course of human events, have come up with this Sandler vehicle about a man who acquires a magic universal remote and gets to change the course of human events. (Their next announced project is Evan Almighty, and my money is on a guy getting to change the course of human events.)
So Sandler is Michael Newman, an architect with a firm headed by Baywatch hunk David Hasselhoff (the comedy starts with the casting.) Michael is a workaholic. He neglects his family. He has a gorgeous, loving, patient wife, Donna (Kate Beckinsale), and two terminally cute kids, Ben (successively Joseph Castanon, Jonah Hill, and Jake Hoffman) and Samantha (Tatum McCann, Lorraine Nicholson, and Katie Cassidy ? how those kids grow!) Michael misses family dinners, camping trips, and swimming meets, and a permanently half-finished tree-house in the yard is a daily reminder of his misplaced priorities. A persistent canard (voiced recently in connection with The Devil Wears Prada) holds that career-driven women who neglect their families are criticized, whereas men get off scot-free. This plays to the other side of that coin.
Michael has another problem. He has too many remotes in his house, and can?t figure them out. So late one night he storms out in a tantrum, and goes looking for a universal remote at the only store that is open: Bed, Bath, & Beyond, first among many product placements in the movie. Unable to find what he?s after in Bed or Bath, he flops down exhausted on the former, but awakens almost immediately and notices Beyond, at the end of an ominous hallway.
There he encounters Morty (Christopher Walken), a mad scientist type who presents him with the mother of all universal remotes. The only caveat is that it can?t be returned. Michael takes it home, and soon discovers that it works not only on appliances, but on life itself. A barking dog or a nagging wife can be muted. A jogger can be put in slo-mo to watch her breasts jounce like water balloons in a gentle surf. Arguments can be fast-forwarded, to get to the making-up and the sex (but you know how sometimes you can?t stop the fast-forwarding quite quickly enough?) Pause can freeze present action, allowing Michael to crouch on his boss?s desk and perform the action referred to in the opening paragraph. Rewind, like the Ghost of Michael Past, can take him back to scout his earlier life. Menu offers a host of options, including The Making of Michael, which is pretty much what you?d expect, and a gag perhaps better in the thinking-up than the showing.
The remote has another feature. It remembers the user?s preferences. Skip or fast-forward through something once, and the device remembers and does it every time. Soon Michael is leap-frogging great chunks of his life, whisked by the electronic Ghost of Michael Yet to Come into a future where his father (Henry Winkler) has died, his kids have grown, Donna has left him for a swimming coach (Sean Astin), and Michael himself has ballooned to the proportions of Mike Meyers?s Fat Bastard.
Frank Coraci, who directed the Sandler hits The Wedding Singer and The Waterboy, finds some nuggets of humor in this celebration of sophomoria, but for the most part, chances of the movie appealing to the post-Clearasil market are slight. If dog-humps-stuffed-duck is funny once, imagine how funny it can be a half dozen times! Sandler has an oafish good-guy quality. He?s hard not to like, but he?s also hard to be around. And let?s not lose track of the fact that this is a message film, a cautionary tale about the things a man can miss if he allows himself to be carried away by ambition, and to neglect the things in his life that would really be important to him, if only he?d take the time to slow down and smell the roses. Turn around, and they?re little, turn around, and they?re grown. Where did the time go? Is that all there is? In its last desperate section, Click turns on the waterworks full blast, literally and figuratively, before rushing ecstatically to its predictable happy ending.
The most important truth this movie offers is that if you run into a guy named Morty who looks like Christopher Walken in a fright wig, and he offers you anything, don?t take it, no matter how tempting it might seem. But stick around. The guy is damnably entertaining. Aside from that, the advice here is to use the remote God gave you, and steer clear of the theater.
© Text 2006 Jonathan Richards - Filmfreak.be