Dir: Frank Coraci. US. 2006. 95mins.
The raunchy man-boy of Adam Sandler'searly hits has grown up to become an overworked young dad in Click, a predictable yet sneakilyeffective comedy from the writers of the similarly high-concept Bruce Almighty. Less of a departure for Sandler than Spanglish or Punch-DrunkLove, but not as straightforwardly comical as 50 First Dates or Big Daddy,this Columbia/Revolution production is not an obvious summer winner. But bybringing in family audiences as well as its star's traditional male fan base itcould give the remarkably consistent (in the US at least) Sandleranother sizeable box office success.
The North American launchcomes this weekend, a little later in the summer than the opening of Sandler's $158.1m 2005 hit The Longest Yard. The challenge for Columbia will be to get Click off to a big enough start towithstand fast-approaching competition from more conventional summer releases Superman Returns and Pirates Of The Caribbean:Dead Man's Chest.
Sandler has never scored big internationally, but Click's family theme should help itout-gross The Longest Yard (whoseAmerican football content kept the international take down to $32.2m) andperhaps do as well as 50 First Dates(which reached $75.6m outside North America). The movie opens on June 22 inAustralia - one of Sandler's healthiest overseasterritories - but will not reach most other markets until late summer or earlyautumn.
Steve Korenand Mark O'Keefe were obviously still thinking about some of Bruce Almighty's themes - as well,perhaps, as It's A Wonderful Life andA Christmas Carol - when they wrotethe story of Michael Newman (Sandler), a hard-workingarchitect whose busy career leaves too little time for his wife (Beckinsale) and kids.
Struggling to keep even hishousehold gadgets in order, Michael buys a universal remote control from amysterious salesman (Walken). The device turns out tohave magical powers, allowing Michael to mute his barking dog, fast-forwardthrough marital rows and freeze-frame his obnoxious boss (Hasselhoff).The trouble begins when the remote starts to make Michael's decisions for him,zapping him past troublesome and ever longer episodes in his life.
The obviously far-fetchedconcept isn't as skilfully spun out as it was in Bruce Almighty and the fantasyelement doesn't always mix well with Sandler's roughand ready acting or the directing style of Frank Coraci(who made Sandler's early hits The Wedding Singer and The Waterboy, as well as 2004 flop Around The World In 80 Days).
The film goes through aparticularly jarring change of tone two-thirds of the way through, when lightand occasionally raunchy comedy gives way to some unexpectedly morbid andmawkish drama. (The drama gives way in its turn to a Capra-esque/Dickensianhappy ending.)
The day is just about saved,however, by Sandler's appealing performance in a rolewith which many young fathers will readily identify. Having recently shownhimself capable of romantic comedy and relatively edgy drama, the former Saturday Night Live comedian here showsan easy aptitude for family comedy that should broaden his career options evenfurther.
Themovie's appeal is also boosted by some enjoyable supporting performances.Parodying his Baywatch hunk persona, DavidHasselhoff delivers some broad laughs as the skiving,randy head of Michael's firm. Kate Beckinsale isunderused as Michael's tolerant spouse but Henry Winkler and Julie Kavner are cute as the hero's loving parents. Christopher Walken does his now familiar trick of adding a nicely weirdedge to the otherwise rather bland comedy.
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