A workaholic architect (Adam Sandler) finds a fairytale-type magic wand in the form of an all-purpose remote control. It lets him remove the tedious, the inconvenient, and the uncomfortable from his life via the fast-forward, mute, pause, and rewind buttons.
Not to mention color adjustment, volume control, a “making-of” option, chapters, and commentary via James Earl Jones’s basso profundo. Basically, life rendered as a special-edition DVD. Click! Who wouldn’t want one of those?
Ah, but this is a Faustian tale. One of the unseen laws of the cosmos is “in order to gain, you must lose.” And like the film’s distant cousin “It’s a Wonderful Life,” in which Jimmy Stewart’s character sees what life would have been like without his existence, in “Click” Adam Sandler’s Michael Newman sees what life would be like without the “bad” in it. A life with no bad in it … is good, right? Nope. It’s worse. Way worse.
Speaking of Life With Bad in It …
The pandemic is bad. It’s a huge manifestation of loss. But what’s the gain? Well, it remains to be seen. But one tiny gain is that it’s clarified something for us movie buffs: Since the dawn of Hollywood, there’s been a torrent of movies, not to mention foreign films, and even though writing about movies is my profession, I’ve recently come to realize the obvious—I haven’t seen them all.
My job, in addition to recommending what’s good in movieland, is to recover movieland’s uncut gems and gold nuggets that deserve polishing. So even though the virus has shut down Hollywood production for the time being, it can’t shut down Epoch Times movie reviews. The saying “So many movies, so little time” is, for the foreseeable future, null and void. We’ve got time. And all anybody is doing right now? Watching movies.
So last week I wrote about a Ben Stiller comedy that got slammed by critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and which I discovered was actually a treasure trove regarding certain issues I think are important to talk about today.
This week, likewise, I’m choosing something by Stiller’s equivalent in underrated Hollywood comedies—Adam Sandler. Let’s talk about one of his movies that got critic-slammed even worse than Stiller’s on R.T. One of my father’s favorite expressions was “You can sometimes find nuggets of gold in junk.”
Too Much on His Plate
Michael Newman (Sandler) has to bring home the bacon, and keep his boss (David Hasselhoff), wife (Kate Beckinsale), two kids, parents, and dog happy. He himself is not happy—hence the immediate addiction to above-described remote. The other solution to this problem was fleshed out (pun intended) by 1996’s “Multiplicity,” where Michael Keaton’s character figured out how to clone himself six times, to his wife’s great delight.
It’s a man-who-works-too-much movie. When Michael winds up in the “Beyond” section of Bed Bath & Beyond, looking for a universal remote, he encounters a lab-coated, bow-tied, Einstein-haired fellow named Morty (Christopher Walken, outdoing himself in his one-of-a-kind, Brooklyn-accented, syncopated weirdness), manning what appears to be B, B & B’s version of Apple’s Genius Bar. Morty (hint—his name carries clues) demos the basics of how to use the remote. Michael’s sold!
The supernormal power of the gizmo reveals itself to Michael when he points the remote at his yapping dog and turns down the volume. From there it’s a quick foray into fast-forwarding through arguments with his wife, and pausing his boss’s bossing so he can kick him in places where it’ll hurt a lot when he un-pauses.
Michael has demonstrated a predilection for the fast-forward function. So like TiVo’s “favorites” feature, which analyzes the shows you watch and selects other shows you might enjoy, his magic wand-clicker starts skipping weeks, then months, years, and eventually decades.
His wife divorces him and marries their boy’s smarmy, Speedo-wearing swim coach (Sean Astin). Michael gains 300 pounds. His dad (Henry Winkler) dies.
Harbinger of ‘Uncut Gems’?
Now, believe it or not, some of this is actually tragic. Like, “OMG! Sandler is actually making me reach for the Kleenex box” tragic. Who knew? Very surprising. But having recently seen “Uncut Gems,” the first movie where people have been forced to take Sandler seriously as a dramatic actor, I can see in “Click” bits and pieces, in and among the flatulence jokes, of this capacity coming to light.
Make no mistake though, this is still goofball Sandler-the-clown schtick, and director Frank Coraci puts Sandler’s trademark inner 11-year-old-who-needs-detention endlessly on display. There are some exceedingly funny moments, if fleeting, and plenty of “ugh, stop” moments, but all in all, you won’t believe you watched an Adam Sandler movie you thought you’d never, ever watch. And pretty much enjoyed it.
Speaking of trademarks, let me end with my own trademark, which is where I attempt to draw highly esoteric parallels and cite instances of higher spiritual concepts hiding in plain sight in low-brow fare, like I know things.
What that clicker in “Click” might very well represent is an ability to skip around in what’s known in ancient literature as “The Akashic Chronicle.” Imagine that instead of one time-space, there are hundreds of time-spaces, spanning a range from extremely slow times to ones that are extremely fast. And in each one, a you exists.
Some say that one’s entire life already exists across the span of all these other dimensions, with bonds connecting the different yous like the bonds between atoms. And if you could jump to a slower dimension, you’d see yourself being born; if you jumped to a faster dimension, you’d see yourself being lowered into your grave.
What’s that got to do with anything? If your life is already planned in advance, it means that if you try and force it onto another set of tracks, you’ll gain karma. And then more lifetimes will start bubbling up and developing, where a plan is set up for you to pay off that karma in your next lifetimes.
So how do we avoid creating karma for ourselves by trying to skip all the bad stuff? Don’t skip the bad stuff! Bad stuff is karma from our previous lives when we tried to go against the tide and created suffering for ourselves in this lifetime!
And so ultimately, this lowly Sandler comedy addresses a giant truth. Go with the flow. The ancient Chinese called it “wuwei.” Live in the now. Breathe. Walk the middle path. Don’t let life’s pain drag you down too far, and don’t let life’s ecstatic highs unseat you. Our modern society only wants to experience life’s ecstasies and take painkillers and antidepressants to avoid the rest of it.
This movie about a gizmo that allows Michael to shirk his responsibilities is a wee wakeup call; it blows the whistle on our culture’s instant-gratification laziness. We must learn to take the bad with the good and be grateful for all of it, at all times.
Director: Frank Coraci
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kate Beckinsale, Christopher Walken, David Hasselhoff, Henry Winkler, Sean Astin, Jonah Hill, Jennifer Coolidge, Rachel Dratch
Running Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes
Release Date: June 23, 2006
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars