Click: An Odd Consortium of Vaudeville and Drama

Adam Sandler and director Frank Coraci (Around the World) bring together an odd combination of bawdy vaudeville humor and realistic dramatic acting in Click. This combination is about as odd as his collection of actors. David Hasselhof doing a parody of a past TV role; a buxom blond (Jennifer Coolidge) being overtly voyeuristic, apparently all her life; a comedic/straight man duo as mom and pop (Julie Kavner and Henry Winkler) ; a wife and mother who is barely believable but more so once she has her hair out of her face (and why does she most often wear skimpy pj’s?); Christopher Walker as an eerie master technician cum crooner with a slight German accent; Manish Goyal, and Sean Astin (50 First Dates, The Lord of the Rings ) as Sheik Habibu and Al “Speedo.” And of course Adam Sandler as Michael Newman.

Michael Newman’s wife, Donna Newman (Kate Beckinsale, The Aviator and Van Helsing) improved greatly as she aged and the children were sweet and (quite obviously) having a good time with Adam Sandler. Michael’s parents were ultra-realistic, straight from any body’s and everybody’s real life.

Adam Sandler, despite his penchant and inexplicable preference for antiquated slapstick comedy, is, surprisingly, a good dramatic actor. He portrayed the struggle and emotion and anguish of his character spot-on. His most dramatic scene, occurring in the street, was no laughing matter. The ending portions of Click, and Sandler’s most important scenes, were vividly enhanced by the realistic dramatic acting of Jack Hoffman (Adam and Eve, son of actor Dustin Hoffman).

Click is about a misadventure in the time continuum. An overworked architect, husband and father with admirable ambitions finds himself beleaguered by demands at work and at home. As a result of these demands, he sleeps where he happens to fall over, whether on the sofa or at his desk, and is short-tempered with himself and the rest of his (may I say, slightly insensitive and uncomprehending) beloved family.

Also, because of his desires and ambitions, he is unable to either see through his boss’s insincerity or to decline any opportunity for advancement, regardless of the personal cost attendant on accepting it. So, this exhausted and irritable man, in a state of domestic desperation, goes in search of a remote control devise that will at least allow him the luxury of turning on his TV without first having to sift through seven other remotes that operate an assortment of occasionally villainous objects, including remote control helicopters. He wants a universal remote control.

Enter the dialectic semantic confusion between a remote that universally controls multiple remotes and a remote that remotely controls the universe. And, by jingo, which one did he get? Well, he got the other one – as you know from the trailer – the universal remote that remotely controls the universe. His kindly guardian, who likes to give “good guys” a break, played perfectly by the slightly eerie Christopher Walken (Illuminata,Stepford Wives), proffers the marvelous remote which will be the basis for the rest of the comedic/dramatic story of how Michael Newman shapes – or reshapes – his overloaded and overwrought life, providing many amusing and distressing moments which will entertain and enlighten the viewer.

The story is set up by writers Steve Koren and Mark O’Keefe (also teamed-up on Bruce Almighty) so that Michael Newman’s plight and erratic decision to dash out and buy that universal remote is perfectly orchestrated and thoroughly believable. Further, aside from the vaudeville shtick, which I do not appreciate, the dialog and story line all throughout are well written. Additionally, the production design, by Perry Andelin Blake, added an extra dimension to each of the various settings: home, office, hospital, new-age apartment, wedding, etc. They were all very well done and even though they oppose each other in type, they are not disconnected and disunified as some such sets are, as in, for example, Bride and Prejudice.

Now that we’ve covered the confusing consortium of comedic and dramatic, what about the point of the movie? Of course there was a point. Click is actually a serious discussion of the complexity and difficulty facing American professionals of succeeding at home and at the office. Studies show that American professionals are in essence on call to their employers and jobs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Oddly enough – well, two “oddlies,” really…. Oddly enough the first, Tim Allen recently dealt with the same issue as a subplot of Shaggy Dog. He didn’t do it as well as Sandler, though, and there were no redeeming features to the character of the wife (Kristen Davis) as cast – rather, miscast – in Shaggy Dog.

Oddly enough the second, there is a current book addressing just the questions that Michael Newman, Adam Sandler’s character, is forced by circumstances to address. In fact, MSN just featured the book and the research behind it on the MSN Homepage (now if I can find it again). James A. Citrin and Richard Smith performed an in depth study, collecting thousands of profiles and surveys, of executives of the middling sort and of the, as they say, extraordinary sort.

Their book The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers (Crown Publishing Group) goes into detail on discussing the five points leading to excellence that emerged from the study. Citrin (an economist with an M.B.A. from Harvard) and Smith (a finance expert with an M.B.A. in marketing and strategy) have even posted a short quiz on their Web site to help individuals determine their own placement on this ordinary-extraordinary continuum.

Some of the ideas that extraordinary executives hold to may be surprising to some. They insist on not short-changing their families in pursuit of success. They trade some opportunities for immediate advancement for a slower and broader path to success. They make sure that those working with them and for them succeed, too. And they abide by moral and ethical codes of choices and behaviors, leaving the gray areas strictly alone.

Now, isn’t this an exact picture of the problems that Michael Newman is facing and doesn’t he need to learn just these very lessons? Watching Adam Sandler in Click is like taking a seminar in how to attain (or not attain) success in work and happiness at home with the family. And it all boils down to doing just what Citrin and Smith reveal in The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers: turn down – say “No” to – some opportunities for immediate advancement in favor of a slower and broader – but apparently surer – path to advancement.

I think Adam Sandler and Frank Coraci, along with Koren and O’Keefe, have done a fine job – especially in light of Citrin’s and Smith’s book – with an important and timely subject [I don’t get the bawdy tawdry humor though…no reason for it, as far as I can see…and truthfully Sandler used much less of this sort of humor in 50 First Dates (except for Ula) and in Spanenglish] and, not only do I applaud the effort, I give this movie Four Stars.

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