A workaholic architect (Adam Sandler) finds a universal remote that allows him to fast-forward and rewind to different parts of his life. Complications arise when the remote starts to overrule his choices.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
What is it about famous multi-millionaire movie star comedians who, after hitting it big in low-brow raunchy comedies, suddenly want to get serious? Call it Jim Carrey disease. After ascending to Hollywood's A-list in such tacky vehicles as 'Ace Venture: Pet Detective,' 'The Mask' and 'Liar Liar,' Carrey suddenly wanted to taken as a dramatic actor. What followed were earnest efforts of varying quality, from the fine 'Truman Show' to the mediocre 'Man on the Moon' to the downright dreadful 'The Majestic.' Though Carrey still gets $20 million a flick and the critics have paid him a fair amount of respect, he still hasn't been able to shake the goofy guy tag, and has yet to win his much sought-after Oscar.
Now, it is apparently Adam Sandler's turn to fall prey to the disease. He's easily America's top comedic actor, proving time and again that anything with his name on it can generate huge box office. Witness the boffo numbers that greeted such negligible flicks as 'Big Daddy,' 'The Waterboy,' 'Anger Management' and 'The Longest Yard' -- there is no doubt that this guy has a huge fanbase. Then came 'Click.' Far from the mindless comedy he's known for, 'Click' is funny at times, yes, but it's also sentimental and mawkish, taking a mid-movie left turn into Frank Capra territory that is almost wholly unexpected, derailing itself in an well-meaning if desperate attempt to wring emotional pathos out of what should have been a one joke concept.
Admittedly, my feelings about 'Click' are somewhat colored by my first experience seeing it theatrically. Begin flashback sequence: I'd never seen an audience so blind-sided by their expectations. This was a theater full of Sandler diehards, the kind who clapped gleefully through a zillion lame pre-movie commercials and horrifyingly bad trailers for even worse comedies by fellow ex-'Saturday Night Live' alumni. They even laughed uproariously at the preview for the most recent Wayans Brothers movie 'Little Man,' the one with Marlon Wayans shrunk down to the size of Mini-Me, a sort of Emmanuel Lewis on crack french-kissing white girls and screaming in homophobic ecstasy at the sight of a rectal thermometer. I really thought I was in trouble.
Anyway, 'Click' finally starts, and the film's concept is pretty neat. Sandler stars as workaholic architect Michael Newman, who is growing more frustrated with the demands of career and family. One night after a particularly brutal day at the office, he makes a trip to Best Buy to replace a broken remote control and meets the mysterious Morty (Christopher Walken). Morty has what appears to be the coolest gadget ever created -- the end-all be-all of universal remote controls -- and better yet, its on sale! So Michael takes it home, and discovers his new toy can control not only his TV, but his environment. He can stop, pause, rewind and fast-forward everything -- and everyone -- around him. Needless to say, Michael has great fun with his new remote, playing all the expected gags on his family, from muting their barking dog to rewinding to the day he met his wife to remember what her favorite song was.
So far, so good. For the first hour or so of the movie, the audience loves Sandler and his stock mannerisms. The sad puppy dog. The howling hyena. The arrogant troublemaker. The sensitive, lovelorn Everyguy with the impossibly hot wife (Kate Beckinsale). Within 15 minutes I have already counted almost a dozen fart jokes. Still, I laughed -- Sandler has always been able to make even the most juvenile of jokes seem charming and fresh, sort of like a younger Tim Allen but without the fake humility.
Then something weird happened. 'Click' starts to turn "dark" -- at least by Hollywood standards. Seems that remote control isn't all it's cracked up to be. It will no longer cooperate, and begins to fast-forward spontaneously -- poor Adam is growing too old too fast. His life is skipping by at random. Soon his wife leaves him, his kids abandon him and he grows old in the blink of an eye. The audience begins to grow very restless, too -- they don't like their Sandler with clouds in his coffee. Suddenly this innocuous fart comedy is turning into some feeble if sincere existentialist comedy, a sort of 'Groundhog Day' meets 'Happy Gilmore' meets 'A Christmas Carol.' And we all know the climax will not be pretty.
It was at this point in 'Click' when the audience really got thrown for a loop. Rarely have I seen pissed off moviegoers so squirm in their seats at being duped by their own expectations. Even the guy in the back row who busted a gut at every fart joke during the film's first half is rendered speechless. I won't reveal any of the film's subsequent plot twists -- other than to say that Morty may not be all that he seems -- but what is rather surprising about 'Click' is that it sets up a climax that has real consequences for its main characters. Though we never truly believe anything bad will happen to Sandler, for a while there the film really does have us going. I even begin to begrudgingly admire this transparent Hollywood ode to family values, not because it is a truly great movie, but because it had been so shamelessly and blatantly mis-marketed. I never would have expected it from an Adam Sandler comedy, but 'Click' is actually delightfully and slyly subversive.
'Click' may not be for everyone. I suspect a lot of diehard Sandler fans that finally catch the movie on disc may be disappointed. He's clearly stretching himself into new territory here, and it's only partially successful. The film takes such a tonal and narrative detour that the first half almost seems like a sucker-punch setup -- could the filmmakers really have been this mean? And maybe Sandler is no Jimmy Stewart, or even a Jim Carrey, but he does show promise as a dramatic actor. The film's later scenes, particularly between the Sandler character and his father, played by Henry Winkler, generate genuine emotion. I hope if Sandler does decide to continue in this vein of more resonant comedy that he picks stronger, more consistent scripts. But if nothing else, 'Click' may be remembered as a transitional film in Sandler's career. And that 'Click' manages to earn even a few of its tugged heartstrings by film's end makes it worth seeing -- at least for the open minded.
'Click' comes to Blu-ray with a bit of historic import. The first-ever BD-50 dual-layer disc to hit the format, this one has a lot of expectations riding on it. If 'Click' looks anything short of fantastic, it may be seen as a bit of a disappointment by some. Also unusual is that, as director Frank Coraci points out in this disc's audio commentary, 'Click' was shot on high-def video, not film. That adds a bit of a wrinkle to any critique of this disc, as it is somewhat unfair to compare the quality of this transfer to your average film-to-video telecine.
Overall, I was very happy with this transfer. I saw 'Click' in the theater showing a standard film print and I remember it boasted quite vivid colors and a very bright, sharp and clean image. However, the film's overall visual aesthetic was also rather clinical and TV movie-esque, so it had a somewhat flat look at times. This 1.85:1, 1080p/MPEG-2 transfer delivers a similar presentation. As there is no "print" to speak of, the source master is predictably pristine. Blacks are absolutely rock solid, and contrast nice and smooth across the entire grayscale. Whites are not overpumped, and unlike some cheaper video formats (such as MiniDV and the like) the darker scenes generally don't lose detail in the shadows.
This Blu-ray release is also considerably superior to the standard DVD release. The image throughout is more detailed and sharp, sometimes noticeably so, and a bit brighter as well. Colors also get a big boost, especially during the second half of the film. The almost shocking hues of the futuristic sets, for example, are so vivid they seem impossibly real, delivering the kind of color only high-definition is capable of. If nothing else, the next-gen formats prove that for material shot native in HD, standard-def video just does not to do them justice.
Now, the big question -- is all the hype surrounding BD-50 justified? Of course, it is impossible to truly know after watching only one title, and there is no BD-25 version of 'Click' to compare anyway. Certainly, this is a very stable, consistent transfer. Shot-for-shot, I was never distracted by any wild variances in depth, detail, sharpness or compression problems, which has been a problem on many prior Blu-ray releases. One caveat, though -- and this could well be indicative of the source material -- I did find that darker scenes and some of the more vibrant colors appeared a bit too alive with movement in the form of slight video noise. However, you could say noise is to digital video as grain is to film, and there is nothing here to indicate any poor compression work or any major defects such as posterization and macroblocking. I'd also say that given the wealth of bonus content on this disc, BD-50 is a major boon for the Blu-ray format. Given its HD video origins and intended visual style, 'Click' delivers very fine video quality indeed.
Another great benefit of the far more space-friendly BD-50 is that it allows for more soundtrack options too. With all this talk of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD, Sony and the Blu-ray format both deserve points for delivering uncompressed soundtracks from day one. I've been quite impressed with the PCM soundtracks on most of the studio's discs, and this new one on 'Click' is no exception.
Admittedly, for the first half of the film 'Click' does not boast incredibly aggressive sound design. It is also primarily a family comedy, so it's largely dialogue-driven. Technical specs are excellent, however. Dynamic range is superior, with spacious frequency range and strong low-bass extension. Effects, dialogue and score are all very clear yet distinct in the mix, and nothing fights for dominance. Stereo effects are numerous while dialogue stays firmly rooted in the center channel, and during the first half of the film, there is some noticeable and quite effective discrete surround action, usually whenever Adam Sandler finds some new feature on his remote control.
However, the soundtrack really comes alive during the second half. The score by Rupert Gregson-Williams comes out blazing, perhaps in an attempt to oversell the movie's sentiments. I don't want to spoil any plot points, but the moment when Sandler's character faces his fate sports some of the most prominent score bleed to the surrounds I think I've ever heard on home video. I actually found it to be a bit much, especially in the rears, as it tends to obliterate any subtle atmosphere. But again, tech specs are top-notch, with near-seamless imaging between channels and excellent clarity to the discrete sound effects.
'Click' also makes news with its supplemental package, which is the first on a next-gen format to be presented entirely in high-def video. Granted, none of the featurettes here are unique in terms of content versus the standard-def DVD release, but seeing as how few Blu-ray and HD DVD releases thus far have sported any sort of content in full HD resolution, it truly is a treat to see.
But first, let's start with the audio commentary featuring director Frank Coraci, executive producer Tim Herlihy, screenwriter Steve Koren and Adam Sandler. I was quite surprised with how humble and supportive Sandler is. Far from a spotlight hog, he often defers to the other participants or prompts them with questions to keep the track going. The information is a nice mix of on-set anecdotes, explanation of the screenplay's development, and Coraci discussing some of the more technical aspects of the production, particularly the special effects. And though it is not a huge part of the discussion, Coraci does discuss shooting the film in HD video, and its an interesting analysis that will likely appeal to next-gen early adopters.
Next up are seven featurettes, all presented in HD. Running an aggregate of only 31 minutes, most of the material is focused on the special effects, though some of it is really quite amusing. My favorite was Humping Dogs," which discusses all the "dog sex" in the movie. The most interesting factoid? The dog wrangler actually had to a wear a green suit, so he could, ahem, get the canines to perform but still be erased out of the film digitally later on. Also fun are "Make Me Old and Fat" and "Fine Cooking," which explain how you make Adam Sandler a fat old guy.
More standard effects dissections are "The FX of 'Click'" and "Design My Universe," though I dug the hi-tech automobiles of "Cars of the Future." Th worst of the bunch, though, is 'Director's Take," which is just four minutes of Coraci clowning around on the set. A true gag reel with Sandler might have been a better bet.
Lastly come four deleted scenes ("Habeeboo Can Do It," "Loser Guy Returns," "Fatty Sandwich" and "Sp-Sp-Spit It Out") running only about five minutes. Again, the quality is great, and three of the scenes are at least amusing (especially "Loser Guy Returns"). Nothing here really would have helped the film, but these are so short and fun enough that they warrant a viewing.
'Click' is certainly not your usual Adam Sandler comedy. Many will likely be turned off by the film's much darker second half, and it is a tough tonal shift for any film to pull off. But there is no doubt about this Blu-ray release -- the format's first BD-50 dual-layer disc packs a fine punch. The transfer is very strong as is the soundtrack, and there are a ton of extras presented in full high-definition video. If this is an indication of what the Blu-ray format can ultimately deliver on a consistent and routine basis, the format war is just getting started.
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