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Click

Director: Frank Coraci
Cast: Adam Sandler, Christopher Walken, Kate Beckinsale, Blake Heron, Allen Covert, Peter Dante, David Hasselhoff

(Sony; US theatrical: 23 Jun 2006 (General release); 2006)

Relentless

Granted, Adam Sandler keeps making the same movie. In which the Sandler manchild meets a pretty girl and learns to be a slightly more attentive, nominally more mature manchild. Applied to any number of basic frameworks—waterboying, wedding-singing, Winona Ryder’s deceiving, Drew Barrymore’s forgetting, Jack Nicholson’s raging—the formula, as we all know too well, has been profitable and then some.


  The Click version begins with a feeble twist. Sandler as ambitious architect Michael has long ago met the pretty girl, here Donna (Kate Beckinsale), and married her. (This suggests the maturation process takes longer this time, or maybe always takes longer, but you’ve never had to suit through the post-marriage part before.) They have two adorable Twinkies-loving children, Ben and Samantha (played at first by Joseph Castanon and Tatum McCann), and he has two doting parents, Trudy (Julie Kavner) and Ted (Henry Winkler).


  Though Donna is a “hottie” (a point made by sundry observers, and the primary point in her characterization) and he sincerely likes his children, Michael finds a way to act out the Sandler plot, initiated by his belief that he is miserable. He’s ragged by his arrogant and frankly idiotic boss, Ammer (the newly resurrected David Hasselhoff), annoyed by conspicuously consuming neighbor (another O’Doyle, as per previous Sandler films), and threatened by his son’s affection for swim speedo-ed swim coach Jim (Sean Astin). When you put these pieces together, you see the problem: everywhere he looks, Michael sees his own inadequacy.


  What better solution than to purchase a universal remote? Frustrated by yet another assignment that has put the kibosh on a family camping trip—not to mention Donna and the kids’ disappointment—Michael drives off into the night in search of salvation. When all the mall stores are closed save for Bed, Bath & Beyond, he enters, making his way past the linens and the plates to a back door marked “Way Beyond.” And here he discovers Morty (Christopher Walken), a technician with oogly-glasses and mad scientist’s hair who offers him a magical remote, all blue-glowy and special, and oh yes, non-returnable. Quicker tan you can say “Clarence,” Michael agrees to the deal and so begins his nightmare. 


  This would be another high-concept nightmare concocted by the Sandler crew that’s ripped off Frank Capra (another being Mr. Deeds). Here the foundation is It’s a Wonderful Life, where Clarence (Henry Travers) is the angel who grants George Bailey’s (Jimmy Stewart) wish that he’d never been born, then proceeds to show him the effects of such an undoing. Here, while Morty cackles a bit and assumes the usual wacky-Walken demeanor, the catalyst is inanimate. The remote allows Michael to reorganize his life, affording him all the controls you’d imagine: fast-forward, rewind, chapter search, freeze-frame, and slow-motion (this to observe a jogger’s breasts bounce). He also has a commentary track voiced by James Earl Jones, a joke worn out the first time you hear it. The remote also briefly serves the most predictable purpose, appearing beneath Michael’s pants as an erect penis. Ha ha ha. 


  As such gags suggest, the film’s worn-outness is incessant. Click has Michael short-cutting more than an occasional argument with Donna or a long work weekend. Soon he’s missing time with his kids and his parents (though subjecting the rest of us to a flashback sequence in which he observes them “make” him under covers, then his own infant’s view of the birth and various comments on the teeny size of his shmeckel). At the same time, as the domestic setting apparently disallows the usual Sandleresque overload of adolescent boy joking, Michael spends demented time at work, or at least at the office (say, watching Ammer perform a wholly horrific “anti-sexual harassment speech” that includes inappropriate comments and repeated shots of girls in tight tops and short skirts).
 
  As Michael continues to speed through the parts of his life he deems unpleasant, the remote retains in its magic memory his “preferences.” And so, for instance, his one night’s decision to fast-forward through sex with the wife becomes a repeated two-minute exercise that leaves her “confused and unsatisfied,” according to James Earl Jones. Donna’s reactions to any of her husband’s shenanigans are mostly limited to brief smiles or sad faces, as she’s less a reason for his transformation (as, say, Barrymore has played more than once) than an occasion for his superficial self-reflections. Donna does have a best friend and potential confidant, Janine (Jennifer Coolidge, playing yet another version of the character she always plays), but she serves mostly as the butt of Michael’s judgmental-jokes, and so even her relationship to Donna is lost in his big shuffle.


  Soon enough, he’s found his way into his own future, where circumstances are dire (even aside from the scene-setting news bulletins that Britney Spears has had her 23rd child and Michael Jackson has not only cloned himself, but also is charging himself with molestation), as Michael is in ill health and even more miserable than he was at Click‘s start.


  While the movie’s point is clear enough from frame one, it’s so blatant and comes at such a high price—relentless childish sex and beat-down jokes (cute little Sam asks her dad if he’s smoking crack, Michael and Donna have fast-sex again and again, the family dog repeatedly humps a stuffed duck, Michael freezes Jim so he can kick him in the crotch, Michael freezes Ammer so he can fart in his face)—that you feel mostly battered by its end.



Click - Theatrical Trailer

Rating:

Cynthia Fuchs is director of Film & Media Studies and Associate Professor of English, Film & Video Studies, African and African American Studies, Sport & American Culture, and Women and Gender Studies at George Mason University.


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