Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 10/08/06 23:25:30

1 stars (Sucks)

Adam Sandler, learning nothing from Jim Carrey’s failed attempts to please everyone by combining broad farting-in-someone’s-face-is-funny comedy and schmaltzy everyday-guy-learns-the-secrets-of-life drama in the same movie, now brings us “Click,” a miserable attempt at audience baiting that takes the basic themes learned in “A Christmas Carol” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” and adds in just enough frat house humor and clumsy melodrama to make “The Family Man” deep and “RV” dignified by comparison. It’s so surprise to learn that “Click” has been penned by Steve Koren and Mark O’Keefe, the former sitcom writers who also wrote “Bruce Almighty,” Carrey’s fart-jokes-make-the-hero-learn-what’s-important hit.

“Click” is, if possible, even less subtle than “Bruce,” which itself underlined, highlighted, and bold printed its morals. Here, Sandler is Michael Newman, but he should simply be called Busy Dad, as his character contains nothing but the faintest stereotypical, clichéd points: missing kids’ after-school activities, putting work above family, etc. The only difference between Sandler’s Busy Dad and everyone else’s Busy Dad is that this Busy Dad has some serious rage issues, because Adam Sandler likes to yell at people in his movies - if it worked in “Happy Gilmore,” by gum it’s gonna work in the ten movies after that, too.

(Also in the Beating a Dead Horse category: Busy Dad lives next door to a family of braggart redheads named O’Doyle, who are annoying and who exist merely to build to a hilarious series of comeuppances. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Sandler used the exact same running gag - including family name - in “Billy Madison.” Yawn.)

Busy Dad begins the film as the center of a world of hilarity: his dog is always humping something; in an office full of hotties, he’s stuck with the only frumpy secretary (a depressingly underused Rachel Dratch, whom I sincerely hope can avoid remaining the frumpy sidekick cliché she’s been lately); his boss is David Hasselhoff, which I assume is supposed to be a punchline in itself. As for Busy Dad, he’s such an imbecile that he can’t tell which remote works the TV and which one works the garage door, because, you know, they both have buttons on them, and arrrgh! buttons! reading! thinking! it’s just so hard!

So off Functionally Illiterate Busy Dad goes to Bed Bath & Beyond in search of a universal remote. After a run-in with store clerk Nick Swardson (because your crappy movie isn’t genuinely gawdawful until Nick Swardson stops by for a mercilessly unfunny cameo), Busy Dad winds up in the Twilight Zone-ish “Beyond” section of the store - a joke that may have been genuinely clever had the whole thing not been dripping with an icky product placement vibe. (This is also a film that gives much screen time to Twinkies. Remember, Sandler’s a guy who would create entire subplots involving Subway or Popeye’s.)

Anyway. Busy Dad meets Christpher Walken, playing the same character Christopher Walken has played in every other lazy comedy that just wants him to be weird-funny but can’t figure out any actual funny material for him. Walken has invented a universal remote that, oh the hilarity, can actually control Busy Dad’s entire life, like, for real and stuff. It can mute a barking dog, pause a bratty kid, fast-forward past arguments with the missus (Kate Beckinsale, whose casting as Busy Dad’s gorgeous wife is as impossible to believe as her iffy American accent), rewind so he can watch himself as a kid (thus allowing Sandler to once again populate the soundtrack with the hits of Peter Frampton and Ric Ocasek), etc. With such a wild fantasy concept at its core, note that the best these people could do with it is a series of gags where Busy Dad farts in his boss’ face.

Once the movie gets its toilet humor out of the way, it decides it’s time to get serious. And so Busy Dad, who’s been fast-forwarding through all the hard parts of life and enjoying the promotions at work, realizes he’s been missing all the important parts of life, too. (To underline this, we’re told that Busy Dad’s body goes on “autopilot” whenever he fast-forwards. Talk about subtext that’s all text and no sub.)

At this point, the comedy drops off and the schmaltz kicks in, with Sandler winding up in progressively more and more ridiculous old-man makeup as we travel further into the future! Yes, what “Click” ultimately tells us is that fifteen years from now, we’ll all be driving egg-shaped cars, type on Star Trek-y touch-pad plasma screens, and look about twenty years older than our characters are supposed to be.

(If you think the make-up to age the actors is disappointing, just wait until you see what Rick Baker does with Henry Winkler and Julie Kavner, who play Busy Dad’s parents; in trying to de-age them, we end up looking at these weird alien plastic people with too-smooth faces, as if the cast of “White Chicks” was their model.)

Also in the future: we’ll all be in fat-guy makeup. No, this has nothing to do with the story or the characters or anything, but somebody somewhere thought it’d be hysterical to put Adam Sandler in a fat suit, and hey, why not write something into this movie? Because it doesn’t make any sense, that’s why not. And trying to tackle tender, heartfelt emotional depth while your leading man’s running around making fat jokes is a disastrous choice at best.

It’s rather sad that the only laughs to come from this comedy are when its dramatic moments fail so much. The sight of Old Adam Sandler running in the rain, crying about how he’s learned his lesson about the importance of family, is far funnier than anything involving a horny dog or an annoying neighbor kid or Rob Schneider dressed up like an Arab. (I regret to report that yes, “Click” opens with a scene where Deuce Bigalow is an Arabian prince with a big fake nose, brownface makeup, and one of them funny foreigner names. Thank you, Happy Madison Productions!)

Heck, this is a movie that can’t even make Christopher Walken interesting to watch. That’s an almost impossible feat, and for that; for the fart gags; for the embarrassingly sloppy drama; for the incessant, cheap moralizing; for the old-man and fat-guy bits; for Nick Swardson and Rob Schneider, “Click” easily becomes the very worst film on Adam Sandler’s rapidly, increasingly worsening resumé.

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