Review by Gene
A remote for everything and for everything a remote. Michael Newman (Adam Sandler) is your prototypical upper-middle class American dad complete with two kids, a dog and a beautiful wife, all of whom love and adore him. Michael is also an up-and-coming young architect with an incredibly demanding boss (David Hasselhoff) who does not even begin to relate to the family man lifestyle. More and more Michael is set with a choice between his work and his family. And, more and more his family is asked to sacrifice their time with him. “This is for my family, this will give my kids the things I didn’t have, the finer things in life…” or so Michael tells himself.
This is not a new storyline by any stretch, in fact many have called Click the modern day version of It’s A Wonderful Life, at least in some plot similarities. Frank Coraci directed this 2006 Happy Madison production, of which most over the last decade-plus have been heavy on the slapstick and adolescent comedy and light on substance. Click makes a decent effort at combining the two and in certain scenes does wonderfully well. Most of the time however it is exactly what we’ve come to expect from an Adam Sandler movie: lots of crude jokes and numerous sexual innuendoes that teenage boys probably find hilarious, but that fall flat on the majority of audiences. Joining Sandler in this movie is a pretty decent cast. I already mentioned Hasselhoff as Michael’s boss and he fits nicely in the role he was given. Henry Winkler and Julie Cavner play Michael’s parents, Ted and Trudy. Winkler in particular is given one of the two emotional climaxes and he delivers it quite well as an aged version of himself. Michael’s stay-at-home wife Donna is played by Kate Beckinsale and Kristopher Walken plays a very pivotal role as Morty.
As the film opens Michael is well on his way to earning a partnership at his architectural firm. He’s the young and bright designer and if he can land this one major account, the title of “partner” is his. Unfortunately it would require ditching the family plans for the Fourth of July weekend. One thing that struck me right away was the dual-identify Michael seemed to portray depending on who he needs to please at the moment. Architect Michael can’t wait to make partner and will do whatever it takes. At even the hint of losing the edge in that race, architect Michael immediately changes his tune and takes on the assignment. Husband/father Michael then delivers the bad news in a not so accurate way. Painting himself in the best possible light, he assures his wife he would rather be with his family and that this was something he just had to do. It becomes apparent very soon in the film that while Michael surely does love his wife and his children, the priorities he has set do not at all reflect that love and often require his family to take a back-seat to his job. I recall Jesus’ words, “No man can serve two masters…” (Mt. 6:4). While our hearts may pull us in one direction, our actions portray our true intentions, often at the expense of the things we believe we care most about. These choices aren’t usually black and white, but they also aren’t always as gray as we make them out to be. We would do well to set our priorities straight before we’re met with such obstacles, a lesson Michael learns the hard way in this movie.
After delivering the bad news to the family, Michael sits down to watch some TV. A simple click of the button, right? Wrong. Point and click, the fan turns on. Next remote, point and click, the garage door opens. And so begins Michael’s journey for a universal remote to make his life easier. While at Bed, Bath & Beyond, the only place open at the late hour, Michael runs into the seemingly quirky engineer Morty (Kristopher Walken) in the “Beyond” department. Morty has pity on Michael and does him the favor of handing over the latest and greatest in universal remote technology, only this remote controls a whole lot more than the television. Michael soon finds out that he can mute people he doesn’t want to hear, fast-forward through the times he would otherwise agonize through, and queue up specific moments in his life with the simple click of a button. Morty is there at his beckon-call to aid him in using the amazing gadget and nudge him in certain directions. There are a lot of comedic moments in the interaction between Morty and Michael. You get the feeling that Sandler plays well off of Walken’s style of delivery and they each have fun with it.
Michael proceeds to fast-forward through arguments, through sickness and through awkward family time all the while teaching the remote what it is he values most based on what he skips and what he lives out in real time. At one point Michael is contemplating skipping ahead until he gets a specific promotion at work. Morty advises him, “Remember the leprechaun… He was always chasing the gold at the end of the rainbow. But at the end of the day, it’s just cornflakes.” Sound at all familiar to some words of wisdom our Savior once gave us? (Mt. 6:19) The advice falls on deaf ears and at the push of a button an entire year has passed until Michael finds himself at the celebration of his promotion. A year of arguing with his wife, a year of avoiding tough decisions and being sick are gone. But gone too are a year of missed family time, missed intimacy with his wife and precious moments with his children. The remote now knows which moments Michael would rather not experience, based on what he has skipped in the past, and begins to skip them automatically to Michael’s confusion and regret.
The dragon tales era: skipped. The passing of the family pet: missed. Another promotion looms on the horizon and the remote knows what do to, another chunk of time gone. A sickness sets in and the remote knows what to do, another chunk of time gone. As the remote gains more presumed control over Michael’s life, the emotion in the film ramps up considerably. In one particularly difficult scene to watch Michael learns of his father’s death and asks the remote to take him back to the last time he saw him. He wasn’t taken to his death bed and the sharing of a heartfelt “goodbye”, instead he was taken to his office and witnessed an angry outburst toward his father. It is this scene when Winkler is at his best as Michael’s father, Ted, displaying the incredible pain of a father whose company is not only no longer needed, but no longer wanted by his son.
As the movie draws to a close we’re given a big reveal about the character of Morty, and Michael stumbles upon the moment of his son’s marriage as he fast-forwards through another chunk of time. His children now full-grown, his wife no longer his and his daughter calling another man “dad” drives Michael to the hospital. His son cancels his honeymoon in order to shore up a deal going bad at the company and Michael witnesses his own backwards “work first” priorities now firmly implanted in his son. The ensuing effort to right this wrong he passed down to his son is quite dramatic and reflects incredible regret of a lifetime of bad priorities. I reflect back on a line from Michael saying to his wife, “Every choice I make, everything I do I disappoint somebody.” To which his wife replies, “So just make sure you’re not disappointing the wrong people.” Getting priorities straight in life isn’t something we may give a lot of consideration to. In reality there are really just a couple of things we should be sure remain at the top. God and family. In that order. The rest is, as Morty so aptly described it, “just cornflakes”.
My Rating: 3/5
If I were considering only the quality of the movie I’d say probably 2.5/5. But, taking the strong message into account as well I give it a bit of a boost. There are inconsistencies in how the “autopilot” works when Michael goes back to view events he had already fast-forwarded through. The true character of Morty seems out of place for the tone of the film overall, almost like they couldn’t figure out how to explain him so they just slapped a mysterious label on him (Don’t want to ruin it for you). The comedy is mostly bearable and at times kinda funny. There is a fair amount of cursing and many sexual references, largely by Michael’s boss.
Michael: “I wish I had time for all that stuff.” Donna: “Gimme a break Michael, you’re a big boy you set your own priorities.”
Morty: “Every time you had a conflict between work and home, work won!”
Morty: “You got the life you chose, big shot.” Michael: “Not the life I wanted.”