Click: Adam Sandler Comedy

Click, the new Adam Sandler vehicle, is a cross between Back to the Future and Capra’s classic It’s a Wonderful Life, with elements of The Truman Show thrown into the mix.

Sharply uneven in jokes and laughs, and defying logic even by standards of broad Hollywood comedies, the movie is mechanically constructed pastiche rather than coherently written yarn, by Steve Koren and Mark OKeefe, who shamelessly lift and borrow ideas from various movies.

Nonetheless, despite its occasional gross humorof the bathroom typelapses of good tastes, and repetitions of the same visual gagsthe narrative serves well star Sandlers comedic talents. He gives a dominant performance that almost succeeds in holding the exceedingly fractured movie together. Without his mellow presence and low-key charm and without Christopher Walkens eccentric turn, the movie would be much tougher and less pleasant to watch.

The films thematic premise is based on a simple but new technological tool, a magical remote control. It translates into a series of questions: What if you could actually control your life with the remote What if you could raise the volume of the world or lower it What if you could rewind your life and look back at your past What if instead of worrying about the future, you could fast forward and look at it Most viewers, younger and older, have given thought to these poignant questions at one time or another in their lives, and in this respect, Click touches on primal anxieties and wishes.

Sandler plays Michael Newman, the husband of a beautiful and supportive wife, Donna (Kate Beckinsale, looking sexy in tight jeans and underwear) and the father of two terrifically bright kids, Ben (Joseph Castanon) and Samantha (Tatum McCann).

However, a workaholic architect, he does not see his family much, putting in long, hard hours at his firm in the elusive job that his ungrateful, misogynistic boss, Mr. Ammer (TVs David Hasselhoff of “Knight Rider” and “Baywatch”) will one day recognize his invaluable contribution and make him a partner. Newman deludes himself that, once hes on easy street, hed be able to afford lavishing attention and presents on his neglected wife and children.

Its quickly established that Newman is inept with technology of any kind for he cant even figure out which of his remotes will open the garage and which will turn on the TV set. Frustrated, after staying up all night to work, Newman sets out to find the perfect device to operate all the electronic equipment. To that effect, he accidentally stumbles into the back room of the local branch of Bed, Bath & Beyond, where he meets Morty (Christopher Walken), an eccentric employee who gives him an experimental one-of a kind souped-up gadget thats guaranteed to change his life in radical ways.

Indeed, soon Newman is a master of technology, turning on every appliance with the click of the button. All goes well until he discovers that the device has other, more startling functions. It can muffle the barking of Sundance, the family dog, and even more astoundingly, it can fast forward through an annoying quarrel with his wife.

The remote also intervenes/interferes with Newmans sex life. When Donna nudges him for more attention and physical touch, he consents to sex, because he knows he can climax quickly by fast-forwarding the device; never mind if the quickie leaves Donna perpetually dissatisfied. Recalling Back to the Future, Newman even gets to witness the night he was born, which is not a particularly erotic or appealing sights considering the looks of his folks.

The scripters have acknowledged that, coming up with every joke we could think of about the use of a remote was the easy part,” and that the tougher part was delineating the emotional journey of their protagonist and maintaining a consistent emotional tone.

Indeed, for the first hour or so, the filmmakers are able to sustain our interest by showing variations of Newmans fascination with the new toy. Constantly jumping around and shifting time-frames, Click starts in the present, then goes to the past, then leaps ahead 30 years into the future, and then drops back to when Newman is a child.

Periodically, Newman pays a visit to Morty, or Morty appears unexpectedly and uninvited in his house. Morty tells Newman that he gave him exactly what he had wished, a universal remote that lets him control his universe, including a function that lets him travel back and forth through his life at different speeds.

At work, Newman aspires for promotion without having to sit around and experience the day-to-day drudgery of getting there. With a simple press of the button, he’s suddenly a partner. Who wouldn’t be tempted to hit that button

However, problems arise, when the remote starts to anticipate Newman’s intentions and makes jumps all on its own. Every time he starts arguing with his wife, the remote jumps until the fight is over. At first, Newman knows where’s going, but soon he has no idea what’s going to happen next. He just keeps waking up and suddenly it’s 30 years later, and he’s in bed with someone he doesn’t even know.

The notion of technology taking control over our lives and programming us, instead of the other way around, has been seen before. But here the idea gets a comic-hysterical spin, based on Newmans panic when he first realizes that he cant control the devices arbitrary selectivity, namely, the decisions of which events of his life hell experience and which ones hell miss completely.

Unfortunately, gradually, the film becomes moralistic and sentimental, with Newman learning things or realizing past mistakes about his life, including the way that he mistreated his blue-collar parents, Ted and Trudy (Henry Winkler and Julie Kavner). Like Peggy Sue (Kathleen Turner) in Coppolas Peggy Sue Got Married, Newman gets a chance to revisit his past and bid a properly emotional adieu from his dying father, an opportunity he had missed the first time around. And like “Its a Wonderful Life, Newman gets to witness his life without him, and his wifes remarriage to another man (Sean Astin).

The movie is at its best and funniest when it stays at the jokey level, even if it recycles too many times a gig about how every dog introduced to the family rushes to the stuffed duck toy for sex. Occasionally, perhaps out of desperation, there’s gross bathroom humor, including farting. The sequence in which Newman is an obese, playing with his hanging belly as if it were a ball, might prove offensive to some moviegoers.

Unlike “Back to the Future,” “Click” is not particularly effective when it tries to underline the more serious themes, such as how most of us can attend an event, without being really present. The writers label this process as autopilot, namely, talking to people but not being really there.

Like Jimmy Stewarts George Bailey in Its a Wonderful Life, Newman needs to learn how to truly appreciate the smallest, most mundane events of his existence, and how to embrace his life to the fullestthe good the bad, and the ugly. Films last scene is almost verbatim lifted out of Capras 1946 comedy.

Young, undiscriminating viewers will eat up the variations of the technological innovation, such as the notion of hitting the menu button on their lives, or the fantasy of popping your life into the DVD player and hearing a running commentary on the making of you.

Beckinsale, Astin, Kavner, and Winkler are adequate, but dont have much to do, unlike Walken who has a major part. Pale, with bulging, inquisitive eyes, and frizzled thick hair, Walken is made up to look like the crazy uncle in Back to the Future. Playing his natural eccentricity to the extreme, Walken adds color to the comedy and he even gets to sing and dance.

Highly dependant on special effects, “Click” boasts a striking visual design and some impressive gadgets and toys that distract attention from the plot in a positive way.