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Click (June 22/06)

While Adam Sandler remains a performer of endless charisma, his choice of material is growing increasingly questionable as the years pass. His newfound penchant for dramas has served him well, however, as evidenced by stellar turns in serious-minded films like Punch-Drunk Love and Spanglish. Yet the actor seems hesitant to leave his comedy roots firmly behind him; it's as though Sandler's trying to both placate his longtime fans and satisfy his own artistic needs.

Click, like recent Sandler efforts such as Anger Management and 50 First Dates, contains the expected emphasis on puerile bits of comedy, but at its core is a sappy, unabashedly sentimental story that often feels at odds with the plethora of dick and fart jokes. The movie revolves around busy workaholic Michael Newman (Sandler), who - after receiving a magical remote control that can control time - learns valuable lessons about slowing down and appreciating his family.

Before the film takes a surprisingly dark turn in its third act, Click is generally as amiable and zany as anything Sandler has done in the past (his misadventures with the remote are broadly comedic and thoroughly silly). And while some of this stuff is admittedly quite funny - ie Michael uses the device to silence a commuter enthusiastically singing along to Loverboy's "Working for the Weekend" - there's not a whole lot here to keep the viewer otherwise engaged. Screenwriters Steve Koren and Mark O'Keefe offer up sight gags a-plenty, but fail to provide a reason for us to care about any of this.

Having said that, there's a twist that comes at around the one-hour mark that raises the stakes for Sandler's character considerably and provides the film with a welcome jolt of depth. Koren and O'Keefe mercifully drop the wacky hijinks in favor of a far more dramatic vibe, as heavy themes such as mortality and regret start to creep into the proceedings. Sandler's Michael discovers the disadvantages of fast-forwarding through certain sections of his life, and the movie essentially morphs into a modern day It's a Wonderful Life - complete with the requisite emphasis on sappiness and a tear-jerker of a finale. It's surprisingly compelling (albeit predictable) stuff, though it's simply not enough to make one forget the ineffective opening hour.

out of

© David Nusair