June 29, 2006


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Click (PG-13)
Adam Sandler tries once more to find a place for himself as a grown-up actor in Click, a movie that's oddly shrill for a family comedy.

Sandler and Jim Carrey have sort of the same career problem. One day Will Ferrell might find himself in the same boat. These men found their funny by acting like buffoons. They talked through their butts, showed off doughy midsections, made faces, fell, had things fall on them, engaged in gross-out humor and starred in movies like Little Nicky. These men gained a strong following of young-ish guys and old-ish kids and made bazillions of dollars on Happy Gilmore and Ace Ventura Pet Detective.

Perfectly acceptable career path — who can blame a man for sticking to the things he's good at — but then something happened. These guys (and perhaps the people around them) began to sense that they were too old for all this. Too old to caper. Too old to get hit in the nuts. Too old to do this shtick forever. Both Sandler and Carrey have since then attempted to develop grown-up personas. They've tried on romantic comedies and dramas of varying degrees of seriousness and attempted to find that mushy, indefinable thing called a family comedy (one where parents and their 10 and up or 12 and up or whatever kids can watch a movie and all find stuff to laugh it). How successful have they been? Well, let's put it this way, I hope Will Ferrell is saving a lot of that Anchorman money.

Sandler isn't particularly bad at playing the dad character. As Michael Newman, he's shlubby in all the right places. A bit angry too, which is where all the shrillness comes it. It's a weird part of this suburban guy that he has anger management problems far beyond Sandler's character in the movie Anger Management. Michael is an architect who works hard in hopes of a promotion which seems a long time in coming. He's also sort of desperate to keep up with the material goods of his neighbors and very concerned with making a life full of all the "stuff he never had" as a kid.

Of course wife Donna (Kate Beckinsale) is more concerned with making a life that Michael occasionally visits. She's sick of him backing out of family outings with their kids and with his parents Ted (Henry Winkler) and Trudy (Julie Kavner).

Looking to organize the tangle of his life, or at least the tangle of remote controls on his coffee table, Michael heads to Bed, Bath and Beyond — the Beyond section — to look for an all-in-one remote. He meets Morty (Christopher Walken), who gives him that very item. Michael takes it back home and quickly discovers the emphasis is on the "all" part of all-in-one. He can mute the dog and fast forward through fights. He enjoys his new toy, which gets him through life's boring and unpleasant parts faster and gets him straight to the promotions and parties, but soon he starts to discover the device's TiVo-like effects. After Michael fast forwards through sex once, he finds the device fast forwards him through all sex and then through all fights and then through large parts of his life. And then we all learn valuable lessons about gathering ye rosebuds and stopping to smell the rosebuds and all other manner of horticultural life philosophies.

There are a few sprinklings of funny in Click and several more instances where I can see where the funny is supposed to be (ah, yes, you use the "languages" function to make your boss's boring speech more entertaining). But mostly the movie is a strain, like a jog on a muggy day when you're tired and all you want in life is to stop. Sandler is trying to be affable but doesn't quite make it. Walken is Walkeny but not Walkeny enough to let his strangeness overtake the blandness. The pieces to at least an average comedy seem to be there but, and I apologize for this, they just don't click. C-

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