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Click

Please Be KindÖDonít Rewind

You know the filmmaking team, e.g., writers, Steve Koren and Mark O'Keefe (Bruce Almighty), director Frank Coraci ( The Waterboy, The Wedding Singer), and star Adam Sandler (Anger Management, The Waterboy, The Wedding Singer), weren't trying very hard when they made the central character in the comedy/fantasy/drama Click, Michael Newman (Sandler), an architect, one of the most unoriginal and overused occupations in film. Just wait, though, it gets better (actually it doesnít).

Michael has everything an upper-middle class white male wants, a beautiful wife, Donna (Kate Beckinsale), two loving kids, Ben (Joseph Castanon) and Samantha (Tatum McCann), caring parents, Ted (Henry Winkler) and Trudy (Julie Kavner), and a labrador retriever named Sundance. Plus a house in the suburbs. To anyone else, it might sound like Michaelís living the All American Dream.

However, itís not enough for the ambitious Michael, whose next-door neighbors, the O'Doyle's are better off financially and show off the fruits of their material success every chance they get. Harried and overworked, Michael can't balance his demanding career and his equally demanding family. Michael, though, wants nothing more than to make partner at the architectural firm run by the vain, self-centered, over-tanned Ammer (David Hasselhoff).

Frustrated at work and at home, Michael targets the absence of a universal remote control as the key to better living. With a universal remote, Michael reasons, his life will be made much simpler. Driving late at night, he finds only one open chain store, Bed Bath and Beyond (blatant product placement). Sent to a back room marked "Beyond," Michael encounters Morty (Christopher Walken), a curly-haired, absent-minded, mad-scientist type. Morty offers Michael the most advanced universal remote available. Itís a one-of-a-kind electronic device. Michael gladly accepts the seemingly innocuous offer (the remote is free of charge, but canít be returned).

Once Michael discovers that the remote can control more than electronic appliances (it can speed up, slow down, or freeze time), he thinks itís the answer to his problem. As Michael learns, it is and it isnít. Michael learns the life lesson writ large about putting family first and career second, but not without a few emotional downturns. Yes, that means the screenwriters and director ask Sandler show some emotion beyond his usual man-child shtick. That also means weíre supposed to care whether Michael learns anything and, if he does, whether itís too late for him to rectify his mistakes. Think Itís a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol but much, much worse.

Not surprisingly, Sandler essays the same kind of temperamental prone man-child in Click that's made him a highly bankable performer. As long as he sticks to playing roles within this narrow range, audiences will flock in near-record numbers to see him perform. His lone attempts at dramatic roles (e.g., Spanglish, Punch Drunk Love) did better with critics than with paying audiences, which, of course, sent Sandler back to delivering what audiences want. And in Michael Newman, audiences will get the Sandler they expect, the frustrated, needy man-child with an uncontrollable temper and a foul mouth. Sure, the screenplay puts him through the paces, but he never strays far from his comfort zone. All the body and facial tics are there, as is the high-pitched voice heís been using since he worked on "Saturday Night Live".

Still, Click has a fair share of gag-filled moments before it layers on the sentimentality and old age makeup and the obligatory yet unnecessary cameo by fellow "Saturday Night Live" vet and Sandler friend, Rob Schneider. Schneider plays an Arab sheik in a painfully unfunny, overlong and, yes, racist scene. Click also contains several unnecessarily cruel gags at the expense of Donnaís ultra-neurotic, man-hungry friend, Janine (Jennifer Coolidge). Plus, thereís David Hasselhoff, the poor manís William Shatner. Thankfully, Hasselhoff resisted, or someone resisted for him, the urge to slip into a Speedo for his role as Michaelís boss. The dubious honor of wearing a Speedo was saved for Sean Astin as Benís swim coach and potential romantic rival for Donna's affections.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars