Adam Sandler, Kate Beckinsale, Christopher Walken, David Hasselhoff
Steve Coren, Mark O'Keefe
|Hmm. How can I say this without appearing to disrespect myself?
Actually, I can't. So, I'll just say it.
Ignore the critics.
I'm serious. We don't like to admit this, but it's true. Sometimes, even the best film critic is wrong. You see, the vast majority of us can be, well, a bit snobbish, a tad detached from the real world AND, perhaps most importantly, completely unable to disconnect our intellectual selves long enough to recognize an entertaining film even if it bites us in the ass.
"Click" is an entertaining film filled with every "put family first" cliché in the book, every sappy movie stereotype around and quite a bit of Adam Sandler's typical cinematic stupidity. You'll be sitting there in the audience going "Man, that is so stupid" or "That reminds me of "It's A Wonderful Life" so much" or "I know exactly where this is going."
You'll be right on all three counts, but if you'll step back for a few minutes and just relax, surrender and just give yourself to "Click," then I dare predict it's going to happen. You will find yourself enjoying it...you will laugh a lot, though not as much as you might during a typical Sandler film. You will also find yourself moved, quite genuinely, in a way similar to the best moments of "Billy Madison," the most dramatic moments of "Spanglish" and the quirkiest moments of "Punch-Drunk Love." You might, as I did, even find yourself shedding a tear or two in the film's more sincere moments.
"Click" is the story of Michael Newman (Sandler), an up and coming architect whose desire to provide the best life possible for his wife (Kate Beckinsale) and two children often comes at the expense of actually spending time with them.
One night, after having spent a large sum of money on family presents based upon a promised promotion that doesn't quite happen, Michael ends up in the back room of a Bed, Bath & Beyond store talking to Morty (Christopher Walken), a sort of mad scientist looking fella who seems jovial enough and who just so happens to have received a universal remote that is programmed to remember Michael's every decision and, thus, programs itself to universally control his daily life.
Sound like a silly idea? It is. Remember, I said "surrender" is required here. I wasn't kidding.
What follows is, indeed, a contemporary version of "It's A Wonderful Life" crossed with "Defending Your Life," in which Michael essentially fast-forwards through all the negatives that life can offer only to realize that he, in fact, also missed the everyday things that make life so wonderful.
This universal remote initially appears as quite the gift, as Michael can fast forward through fights with his wife, foreplay before sex, tasks at work, a demanding boss (a hilariously over-the-top David Hasselhoff), dinner with his parents (Henry Winkler and Julie Kavner) and a variety of other undesirable responsibilities. However, as the universal remote records more and more of Michael's decisions to "fast forward" he suddenly finds himself missing more and more of his daily life...first days, then months, then the disintegration of his marriage, family and even health.
Much like in "It's A Wonderful Life," Michael finds himself accompanied by an angel of sorts in the person of Morty. To explain Morty would be an injustice, but Walken is simply hysterical in portraying this man who is a little mad, a little sincere and, most likely, a touch of evil. Walken was inspired casting for the role, and his performance is restrained enough that Morty never becomes a caricature.
On a certain level, it's quite the shame that screenwriters Steven Koren and Mark O'Keefe didn't go out more on a limb. Both Sandler and Beckinsale are strong enough that this film could have stretched significantly beyond its predictably clichéd storyline. Beckinsale doesn't go much beyond the typical "perky, beautiful wife" role until the film's second half when we begin to see age progression (supplied perfectly by make-up genius Rick Baker), maturity and life changes. In the second half of "Click," something does, indeed, click between Sandler and Beckinsale. Their scenes become tender, intimate, funny and, at times, surprisingly sweet.
Sandler, whose roles in "Spanglish" and "Punch-Drunk Love" garnered critical praise but not much box-office, may give audiences more to like here with a difficult to balance mix of his Sandler brand of sophomoric humor and a sort of confused, but essentially good-hearted, grown-up. Sandler pulls off both roles well, though he's still not quite convincing in scenes requiring him to be distraught/tearful. He comes closer in "Click" to pulling off this sort of scene than I've ever seen, and I have to believe that acting alongside Beckinsale's remarkable authenticity allowed him to let go more fully. It reminded me of the impact Beckinsale had on John Cusack's performance in "Serendipity." Quite simply, she brings out the best in her leading men.
Henry Winkler and Julie Kavner do a nice job as Michael's loyal but neglected parents. Winkler, in particular, pulls off his age progression perfectly and a scene with him, Michael and Michael's now grown-up son Ben in Michael's office is downright heartbreaking. Kavner performs admirably, but makes an odd, noticeable change to her "Marge Simpson" voice as she progresses in age. Particularly when she becomes a senior citizen, this vocal shift is distracting and caused me to think about "The Simpsons" during one of the more serious scenes in the film.
Because there's age progression across the board, it is interesting to watch Michael's kids also age. As young Ben and Samantha, Joseph Castanon and Tatum McCann are adorable and convincing. While the teen Ben and Samantha appearance is brief, when they resurface as adults Jake Hoffman (Dustin's son) and Katie Cassidy (David Cassidy's daughter) take over the roles and add a nice touch of sincerity during the film's more dramatic scenes.
Sean Astin, as I'm sure you've never seen him, offers a nice supporting performance. Additionally, Sandler regular Nick Swardson offers a brief, funny performance in Bed, Bath & Beyond. While the store itself is named in the film, it never feels like product placement so much as it feels like a name they were able to play off of in working with the plot.
Director Frank Coraci (who also is here in a cameo) is directing his third film with Sandler ("The Wedding Singer" and "The Waterboy" being the other two), and rebounds nicely from the debacle known as "Around the World in 80 Days." The film features a solid, entertaining soundtrack including a pleasant, unexpected cameo from Cranberries' lead singer Dolores O'Riordan. The production design is simple yet effective, and the film's special effects with the remote are a notch above usual Sandler fare.
So, it all comes down to this simple statement...
Ignore the critics. We're going to pick apart "Click" because it doesn't really offer anything new, it doesn't really stretch its actors and it's really not being marketed very effectively. "Click" is a new type of Adam Sandler film that combines the best that Adam Sandler has to offer...his silly, juvenile and sophomoric humor and that grown-up, mixed up but good-hearted man-boy we've all grown to love.
Sometimes, a film just "clicks." It doesn't really matter what the critics say. This film, well, it's one of those films. Despite all its inherent flaws and challenges, what can I say? It clicks.
|© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic