How many times can a dog hump a duck? The answer, at least in Adam Sandler’s latest high-concept comedy, is “as many times as possible.” Proof that, Punch-Drunk Love notwithstanding, the Happy Gilmore guy is never happier than when pandering to the lowest common denominator.
And therein lies the problem with Click, his latest collaboration with The Wedding Singer director Frank Coraci. What it wants to be is a smart, poignant fantasy with a killer gimmick. What it needs to be is a silly laugh-fest, catering to its star’s core audience with the usual fart gags, fat suits and the aforementioned randy pooch having its wicked way with a stuffed toy bird.
This, then, is a film of two halves. On the one hand it’s all gravy, Sandler’s hi-tech device serving up one witty surprise after another – a commentary option that sees his life narrated by James Earl Jones, a ‘Next Chapter’ button that allows him to skip fights with wife Kate Beckinsale, and an overly literal ‘Making Of’ that whisks him back to the moment of his own conception. On the other it’s suet pudding, our hero freezing time to guff in the face of sleazy boss David Hasselhoff or slow things down to ogle a passing jogger’s bouncing boobs.
The same split personality extends to the cast, with Christopher Walken’s crazy-wigged oddball – another perfectly calibrated creation from the King of Kook – balanced out by Sean Astin’s thankless cameo as a Speedo-sporting rival for Beckinsale’s affections.
Curiously, though, Click is at its most effective when it stops trying to squeeze humour from its supernatural premise and plays up its nightmarish potential, with Sandler’s neglectful husband and father increasingly finding himself at the mercy of his mad point-and-press preferences. It’s here, in its latter stages, that Coraci’s movie comes closest to the Capra-esque fable it aspires to be... at which point it promptly loses the courage of its convictions, reaching desperately for the nearest joke to hand. “Quick!” you can almost hear the producers screaming. “Somebody pull Sean Astin’s trousers down!”