Thursday, July 1, 2010

Click

I have absolutely despised 99% of Adam Sandler’s post-Saturday Night Live. The 1% exception was Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love in which Sandler abandoned his usual man-child shtick and let a talented filmmaker design a character for him. The result was surprising proof that Sandler can be a decent actor when he is not in a typical Adam Sandler movie.

Click puts the above conclusion in jeopardy. It is not your typical Sandler movie. He plays a workaholic architect who is neglecting his family to gain a promotion, so forget the usual slacker with an anger management problem who eventually gets the girl and learns a life lesson after ninety minutes of violent outbursts an junior high level jokes. But still, Click goes horribly wrong.

For starters, the movie fails to make Sandler’s character, Michael Newman, sympathetic. The whole pit of the plot is that we are supposed to be rooting for him to finally realize his family is more important than his career. But we do not like him enough to care about his journey. He yells cruelly at his kids, he ignores his wife, and is a total jerk to everyone else. When the fantastical element of the remote control enters the picture and he can glide through life without bothering with his family, I felt like they were the lucky oes. I was still stuck wirh him.

About the remote. It was given to him by Monty, a worker from the blatant advertised Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Monty is played by the great Christopher Walken, who usually plays good, weird characters with a hint of menace, is sleepwalking here as much as Newman will. It is a universal remote with which Newman can control the world around him. At first, he uses it to get passed the minor annoyances of the day, but as the movie progresses, utilizes it more to avoid family obligations, including such unimportant things like spending time with his kids and making love to his wife.

Finally, he starts bypassing huge chunks of his life until he gets to the point in his career to which he always spied. But by that poit, he has lost his family and is an overweight mess. He eventually suffers a heart attack upon witnessing how his family turned out ad risks his life to keep his son rom maig the same career obsessed choices he did. Ashe lay dying, he tells his family he loves them.

In the ultimate cop out, Monty, revealed to be the Angel of Death, hit’s the reset button. Michael wakes up in Bed, Bath, and Beyond before he ever got the remote with a chance to start all over again since he has the memories of his other “life.” So Click turns out to be a twisted variation of It’s a Wonderful Life. Throwing that revelation on us at the end is a cheap twist.

The predictable, unoriginal plot is not the biggest flaw in Click. Who watches a Sandler movie expecting high creativity in the first place? The problem is I came away wondering if Click was a comedy or drama. The jokes were not funny, but the dram aas not compelling. I did not laugh a single time--literally--and I was more disturbing by the unpleasantness of the dramatic aspects. I can appreciate a dark comedy that is done well, but not one that makes me squirm in my chair waiting for some lighthearted relief that never comes.

I am going to be merciful and not brutally critique the terribly miscast David Hasselhoff as Newman’s smarmy boss. The poor guy was out acted by a Trans Am in his most famous role. He has suffered enough.

The only reason you should see Click is if you do not feel you have suffered enough in life. Fans of his usual Happy Gilmore and Billly Madison offerings will not find anything similar here. Anyone else expecting Sandler to rise to Punch Drunk Love highs will be equally disappointed. Click isan incredibly depressing film with no redeeming aspects whatsoever.

Rating: * (out of 5)

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