Four decades ago, Charles Addams published a cartoon where an unhappy man views inclement weather outside a large living room window. He picks up a remote and clicks. The weather becomes sunny and seasonable. A smile is now on the homeowner's face.
It's doubtful that actor-producer Adam Sandler ever saw this cartoon, but nonetheless he is using the same idea in his new comedy, "Click." He is also borrowing the central concepts from the novella, "A Christmas Carol;" the film, "It's a Wonderful Life;" and even the song, "Cat's in the Cradle."
In "Click," architect Michael Newman is so swamped with work that he must cancel a long-anticipated family trip on July 4th weekend. He's in a similar dilemma as that of Robin William's character in the recent "RV," except Newman has an out - a magical universal remote.
Michael buys the incredible clicker from the mysterious Morty (Christopher Walken) in the "Beyond" section of "Bed, Bath and Beyond." Besides making life more bearable (he lowers the volume of his dog barking), the remote can send him on some major time traveling, past and present. This moves the gimmicky gag-fest into a dark Dickensian area, where Newman sees that because of his workaholic self-absorption, he will become an obese, divorced, selfish heart-attack victim. Morty, who moonlights as the Angel of Death-Ghost of July Fourth Future, leads him to the revelation. "Click's" third act ceases to be a comedy at all.
The problem is that Sandler's Newman is more believable as a mean-spirited child-man than as a reformed Scrooge. Early scenes where Newman clicks adversaries to "still" modes while he farts in their faces or lets baseballs smash their foreheads are more Sandler-friendly... and funny. In addition, Newman has a beautiful, loving wife, Donna (Kate Beckinsale), whom he fast-forwards out of arguments and sexual foreplay. Also, his good-hearted parents (Henry Winkler and Julie Kavner) get the nasty speedup treatment when they come to dinner. Newman is not a nice guy, but that's what we like about him. We almost wish his isn't a wonderful life, when he snaps out of his depression. After all, as W.C. Fields said, "Comedy is tragedy happening to someone else." Why shouldn't it be Michael Newman?
By fast-forwarding from the funny stuff, "Click" finds itself not even "remotely" comic... making us wonder why we're paying to see a serious Adam Sandler.