1 hour, 38 minutes
As we left the theatre this weekend after seeing the one-note joke comedy “Click,” a filmmaker friend of mine observed, "when you go to an Adam Sandler movie, you know what you’re gonna get.” He’s absolutely right, which is why I shouldn’t have been surprised at the crude sexual humor, the juvenile behavior, and the frequent use of the word “boobie.”
What did surprise me was how little of the Sandler stuff I love the wacky fights, the comic anger, the rare bursts of wit made it into the film.
Sandler plays Michael Newman, an architect who, in typical Hollywood fashion, is a father who loves his family so much that he spends every second working to make life better for them. But life is complicated. He has to satisfy his boss, his wife, his kids, his parents, the neighbors, (in one of the better comic bits, Sandler brings back the O’Doyle family from “Billy Madison" as the neighbors) and he can’t even figure out which remote turns on the stupid TV.
See where this is going? In a witty bit of product placement, Michael goes to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and winds up in the “Way Beyond” section looking for a universal remote control. As anyone who’s seen the trailer knows, it is here he finds a wacky-looking Christopher Walken who gives him a remote control that controls his universe.
Oh, I get it. Clever.
I’m sorry, but this concept is lame. So, by definition, the whole movie is lame, because it is completely structured around this weak and frankly, antiquated, premise. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could use the remote to affect things other than the TV? I know we’ve all pointed the remote control at someone else in the room and pretended to hit the pause button, but one shared experience does not an entire film make.
It feels a little strange to have this movie made now, considering we’ve had the remote control, in one form or another, for at least 30 years. The newness has worn off. I could see this concept working better in an early 1980s John Hughes movie... maybe “Weird Science.” But today, when we’ve got cars that can give you directions to Siberia, phones that fit in your ear like some kind of Borg implant and mini-monitor cameras that can broadcast me writing this review all around the world. The remote control feels positively twentieth-century.
There are a few funny bits in the movie. Casting David Hasselhof as Michael’s jerk of a boss was great. There’s something about that guy that just makes me laugh, and it’s not necessarily his dialogue. Henry Winkler and Julie Kavner are sweetly funny as Michael’s parents, though it’s hard to watch Winkler in his current incarnation and remember how cool he was as the Fonz. What happened?
There was one element of the remote control concept that seemed relevant the menu button. Michael, at one point, is able to listen to a commentary of his life, read by none other than James Earl Jones.
“He does a lot of voice-over work, these days ...” Walken explains. Not bad.
However, try as this film might to make him seem all grown-up, Sandler can’t seem to get away from the idiotic comedy that made him a star fifteen years ago. Sandler staple Rob Schneider plays a sheik named Prince Abibu wonder what wacky jokes can be made from mispronouncing his name.
Sandler plays fat, and then literally plays with his fat. He slo-mo’s a buxom jogger running. Sean Astin shows up, apparently for the sole purpose of being de-pantsed. And please, for the love of God, can we stop with the dogs humping? I never thought that joke was funny, but typically it only happens once. “Click” turns it into an entire motif, a running joke we learn about inside and out. It even begins to affect the characters’ sex life, which really creeped me out.
This brings me back to the original point. I guess I should have expected what I got. It doesn’t matter who the director is, Adam Sandler is in the driver’s seat. With the exception of “Punch Drunk Love,” Sandler’s movies pretty much follow the same pattern. What I didn’t necessarily expect was the serious, and somewhat dark, turn the movie takes in its third act, some of which was well-done and honestly sentimental, and some of which was lame and overly-sentimental.
“Click,” as a movie, seems to know it has a limited premise, and works overtime to make itself more than it is.
Try as it might, however, “Click” just isn’t “It’s a Wonderful Life.” This movie is definitely a “wait-’til-video.” That way, you can use the remote for it’s true purpose: to turn it off. Grade: D+
“Click” is rated PG-13 for language, some comic violence, and frequent crude sexual humor.
Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.
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