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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

CLICK (article first published : 2006-10-1)

Click, an uneasy marriage of screwball comedy and sentimental fantasy, stars Adam Sandler as a remote dad who loses control with a magical device that can forward, rewind or pause his life.

If you had a universal remote control that could pause life, zap it forward, rewind it, adjust its volume and even provide commentary - in the voice of James Earl Jones, nogal! - you'd do things like backtrack to change bad things in history or uncover the Lotto numbers, right?

Not Adam Sandler, in character as workaholic, no-time-for-family architect Michael Newman, who here uses such a magical device to, er, pass wind for eight seconds in the face of his obnoxious boss (played by David Hasselhoff) and, um, go into slo-mo to watch a big-breasted woman jogger pass by.

Welcome to a film with huge promise, the new comedy from writers Steve Koren and Mark O'Keefe, who gave us Bruce Almighty and Frank Coraci, the director of The Wedding Singer.

Sadly, what could have been an ingenious movie, that might even have spawned a good sequel or two, ends up only as a mildly entertaining one - unless, like the irritating guy who sat behind me in the cinema, you hysterically crack up whenever Sandler so much as changes his expression.

The trouble with Click is that it is never as funny as it might have been, becoming reliant on a series of cheap shots such as that Hasselhoff moment, Sandler in a fat suit (a jarring, unnecessary sequence that slows down the movie) and a scene in which a dog makes whoopie with a large stuffed toy. The latter gag might raise a faint half-smile (or popcorn-dropping guffaws if you're like that bloke behind me), but it's then repeated not once, not thrice, but some four or five times.

The biggest wobble here, though, is that Click is essentially two different films. For the first three-quarters we get the expected Sandleresque slapstick and juvenile nonsense as the remote dad has fun with his control. Then, in the last section, the story suddenly, awkwardly, slips into something a lot more earnest, a lot more globbily sentimental.

This happens when the magic remote - which Michael gets as a gift from an enigmatic, wild-haired man (Christopher Walken) working in a large store - starts taking it upon itself to fast-forward Michael's life, showing a darker future when his two small kids are adults and his wife (the lovely Kate Beckinsale) has lost her spark.

The movie, also featuring Julie Kavner and Henry Winkler as Sandler's parents, becomes uncomfortably wedged between screwball comedy and wannabe-poignant fantasy, although it's worth noting that Sandler and the cast are far more memorable in the serious part of the picture. Billy Suter




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