Mom, Laura, me and the kids went to see Click tonight. It has some standard Adam Sandler humor in it, but it is pretty different than a lot of his previous movies. There is a moral to this story big time and it made me cry. It is a really sweet story. Man, Adam Sandler movies always have such nostalgic music in them that make me think of my childhood..... But, that's not what brings tears, you'd have to see it yourself, I would recommend it. Some of the humor is just a bit mature (or maybe immature) so you might want to preview it before taking your kids.
Here's one of its favorable reviews (not everyone liked it, of course):
Fast-forwarding through life is fun. But it can also give a guy pause.
- Mick LaSalle, Chronicle Movie Critic
Friday, June 23, 2006
Click: Comedy-drama. Starring Adam Sandler and Kate Beckinsale. Directed by Frank Coraci. (PG-13. 115 minutes. At Bay Area theaters.)
Maybe Adam Sandler and his team intended to make a serious movie, and maybe they didn't, but in "Click" they've made one, all right, one of the best American films of the year so far. The filmmakers take what might have been just a gimmicky premise and pursue it meticulously, following wherever it leads. Along the way, they create a shrewd and moving metaphor for the way people live their lives in 21st century America.
That Sandler should appear in one of the year's best movies is astonishing enough. What's more astonishing is that he's good in it. For once he doesn't play a self-satisfied imbecile that we're supposed to regard as a savant, or a complacent slob who's right and everybody else is wrong. Instead, he's an ambitious family man, a talented architect who is slaving at the office and putting in late hours in the hope of someday making partner and achieving financial security.
With all the pressures at work, he finds himself resenting his family obligations as suffocating, even though his wife (Kate Beckinsale) is loving and accommodating, his kids are adorable, and his parents (Henry Winkler and Julie Kavner) are no trouble at all. He wants to work and get ahead and then finally start living, and soon he gets a chance to put his wishes into action.
He goes to the store to buy a universal remote for all his home electronics and is given a brand-new one by a mysterious inventor. The fact that the inventor is played by Christopher Walken should give him pause, but it doesn't, so he takes it home. There he finds that it not only works on the television but that he can use it to silence a barking dog. When he has to walk his dog, he can fast-forward through the boring parts. He can even fast-forward through a spat with his wife.
The seductiveness of the remote works on the audience as well as on the character, which is the beauty of the conceit. Who wouldn't want to fast-forward through a traffic jam? Or fast-forward through desk work? I'm five paragraphs into this review and would be very tempted to fast-forward ahead four paragraphs. But if we had the power to bypass every bit of labor, tedium or unpleasantness in our lives, how much would we actually bother to live? And how much would we lose as a result of not experiencing the process of living? Maybe a lot, or everything.
The point "Click" is making is simple but sharp and effective: That's what many of us are doing, even without the remote control, just going through the motions, digging in, pursuing our goals in the time-honored American way, but so fixated that we're barely present. The movie makes a crucial distinction, one that turns "Click" into a near-great movie instead of a routine piece of garbage: When our hero, Michael (Sandler), presses that remote, he doesn't change reality. He only changes his own perception of it. Thus, when he hits fast-forward, things aren't really going faster, but rather his consciousness is going away and then returning at a later point in time. The joke isn't on everybody else. The joke is on him.
While everyone else, for example, is experiencing a family dinner, he's floating through it on autopilot, functioning but not present. In that way, the magical premise becomes, for writers Steve Koren and Mark O'Keefe, not an end in itself, but the jumping-off point for a story about the consequences of the autopilot approach to life.
The magical element creates opportunities for visual flourishes, which the movie executes with aplomb. In the flashback scenes, live action is mixed with computer graphics to make Winkler and Kavner appear to be in their 30s. In scenes of the future, the 2020s are accounted for by differences in interior design, car design and license plates. Everything is handled with subtlety and intelligence, enhancing the story without calling attention to itself.
The remote is basically a DVD remote, with a menu that pops up as a hologram around the protagonist, another nice visual effect. The menu is for the DVD that's his life, for the life story that he's in the process of creating. That, in itself, is an interesting metaphor, because it speaks to a belief in self-improvement, a faith that life can be made into something magnificent -- and a concomitant narcissism that can infect such naive confidence. It's much more of an American than a European thing to see one's life as a movie.
Director Frank Coraci seamlessly blends comedy and drama, finding the right balance by ignoring genre convention and just telling the story. He gets a performance out of Sandler that I didn't know he had in him.
-- Advisory: Crude humor, sexual situations.
E-mail Mick LaSalle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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