June 24, 2006

Movie Review: Click

Posted in Movies at 2:13 am by Calico Jack

(The adorable Kate Beckinsale, with an actor who plays her husband.)

Judging from the trailers, one might think that Click is a typical Adam Sandler comedy, albeit a high-concept one. A dad who is uninvolved with his family discovers a truly universal remote control, which allows him to skip around the various parts of his life. All is well until something goes wrong and he can no longer control the remote, leading to utter chaos…and a gradual realization that he should be a better father. At the end of the movie, the moral has been learned; and along the way the audience has laughed at the situations which have befallen him.

That is the synopsis of Click; or rather, it would be if the movie were a typical Adam Sandler film. Click is not a comedy at all, however; but rather an increasingly dark, cold movie that masquerades as a comedy in its first half hour before pulling a bait-and-switch on complacent moviegoers expecting to see an Adam Sandler film full of gross-out sight gags, juvenile banter, and Sandler's patented frat-boy shtick. To be fair, there is quite a bit of the aforementioned humor; but as the movie progresses the humor is quickly overshadowed by a growing sense of despair as the audience watches a man gradually lose his connection with his family by seeking to avoid everything that might not bring him immediate pleasure.

Click is a hard movie to watch, partly because its light-hearted tone is quickly replaced by something far more ruthless. Anyone who has lived through emotional abandonment might find this film both heartbreaking and eerily perceptive; that is quite a combination for a movie that also includes flatulence and sexual humor. Adam Sandler does a good job at portraying a dad who callously ruins his own life and emotionally stunts the lives of his children, simply to climb the corporate ladder. He is a jerk in this movie, and the audience watches his self-destruction not with sympathy but rather a detached horror.

Sandler never quite leaves his adolescent image behind, however; and this weakens the film. I have a feeling that the producers could not decide whether to make this a thoughtful yet lighthearted comedy or a humorous drama with ambitions towards greatness…so they decided to mash the two together and hope that it worked. Either way, Click would have been a stronger film; but as it stands the transitions between fart jokes and marital therapy sessions are quite jarring. Click is brutal in some aspects, but I wish that the producers had the courage to go all of the way and leave out most of the humor in order to make a disturbing, thought-provoking film much along the lines of It's a Wonderful Life. My second choice would have been a fluffy comedy about the everyday struggles of family life. Instead, we get an uneven film that has a completely unnecessary scatalogical joke for every flash of insight it provides.

The lovely Kate Beckinsale sparkles as Sandler's long-suffering wife. I would have liked to see her get even more screen time than she already has because of her role as the emotional core of the film. No, wait; who am I kidding? She is the most beautiful housewife ever to be shown in a movie; that's why I want more of her. Christopher Walken steals every scene he is in; after dozens of movies using his trademark Walken way of speaking, he never fails to entertain. The rest of the cast is uniformly good; there are no weak actors here.

Ultimately, Click doesn't really know what it wants to be; and that is a true shame. This is a movie that I wanted to love, but I can only settle for a disappointed liking. Not because it is worse than I thought it would be; far from it. But I see what it could be, and it falls short. If there had been an editor who was brave enough to take out the adolescent humor and leave the gentle smiles, this could have been regarded as a masterpiece. However, this is not a worthless movie. The final twenty minutes are as much of a tearjerker as any movie released this year, and there are occasional flashes of brilliance throughout that truly resonate with its audience. Kate Beckinsale alone almost makes the movie worth its price of admission. Ultimately, Click can't commit to either making the audience laugh or cry; and it isn't strong enough to do both at the same time, leaving me to give it a regretful B-.

Captain Morgan adds: Scatalogical? I shake my head in disbelief. I saw Click with CJ and agree with his review. We actually gave it the same letter grade as we stood outside the theater. Either his taste is degrading, or mine is improving. Normally I give everyone a B, while he's passing around C's and D's. Perhaps we're getting more mature.

And just because we can:


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