Image courtesy of www.impawards.com
Adam Sandler……….Michael Newman
Kate Beckinsale……….Donna Newman
Sometimes five extra minutes of screen time can turn a gut-wrenching finale into a love tap, as a happy ending following a satisfying unhappier denouement can take the wind out of the sails of a film. Click is proof that while a happy ending doesn’t necessarily make it a better one but is evidence that as Adam Sandler ages he’s striving for higher artistic credibility.
Click features Sandler as Michael Newman, an architect who neglects his beautiful wife Donna (Kate Beckinsale) and two children to concentrate on his job. Seeking a promotion to partner from his ruthless boss Ammer (David Hasselhoff), Newman keeps falling further behind in the rat race while also disappointing everyone around him on a fairly regular basis; he’s overworked and places his career ahead of everything in his life. Seeking a universal remote control to operate everything in his life, he wanders into a Bed, Bath & Beyond searching for the device when he makes a near-Faustian bargain with a worker at the store (Christopher Walken). His universal remote just doesn’t control his appliances; it controls his world.
As Michael skips many events of his life, the remote learns from his behaviors and adjusts itself to his predilections. Fast forwarding through his life, Michael sees and experiences just exactly how his choices influence the world around him and how getting what he wants in one area won’t cure the ills of another. And for the bulk of the film it’s a great film that teeters close to the edge of cinema classics like It’s A Wonderful Life as the film has a great story to it. Michael is a great everyman, trying to do better for his family and failing to balance those priorities with his wanting of a better life for them. This a great script for the most part, as the film’s plot and story move along briskly enough to keep the story moving but deliberately enough to keep the characters front and center. This is a real family with real problems trying to be solved and as the years move by Michael’s choices with the remote and with his life bring them farther away from the place he wants them to be.
The film’s central theme revolves around Michael losing everything to try and be the type of man he thinks his career should take him to. And in what should’ve been the finale an aged Michael has a crucial moment with his family where he has the revelation about his life comes an ending that takes away from its gravity. Frank Coraci, a veteran of happy endings from being at the helm of two prior Happy Gilmore Productions (The Wedding Singer and The Waterboy), does a great job telling this story. While a different ending is something Coraci seems to be aiming for, the one that is provided wrecks the story arc of a man who gained everything to find he had lost it all in the process. It’s a crucial blunder in a film that manages to avoid many of the usual pratfalls of films starring Adam Sandler.
And for Sandler it’s a bold film and a unique role for him to take as it requires a lot of dramatic ability generally not seen in his film selections. Michael has many of the requisite “angry child in a man’s body” issues that Sandler’s comedy repertoire consists of but it has something else that many of his roles don’t have: heart. Sandler has displayed some great dramatic chops in the past, most notably in Punch-Drunk Love, and in crucial moments where a lot of comedians would fail Sandler succeeds in bringing the sort of gravitas needed. As Sandler’s audience is changing and growing up so is Sandler the actor; this is a film and a role that require more than him to punch out various people and scream. He succeeds admirably as while the film requires many of the usual screaming and physical comedy he’s known for there’s plenty of meat to his role as well.
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