To the list of embarrassments in my movie-going history (screaming in terror in Jim Belushi’s K9; a giggling fit in the middle of Eyes Wide Shut), I now add crying twice at this comedy whose running gag is an oversexed dog. But that’s exactly the schizophrenia induced by Frank Coraci’s tragicomedy about a frazzled middle class dad (Adam Sandler) who tries to fast-forward through the drags in life—dull dinners, arguments, the endless carrot-and-stick slog towards promotion—only to realize that he’s a gray-haired, lonely man who skipped through everything worth living.
As Michael Newman (yes, the symbolism is that earnest), Sandler retires the man-child shtick to play an exhausted breadwinner capsizing under the pressure of grown-up expectations. His out-of-his-league wife (Kate Beckinsale), two kids, and boss (David Hasselhoff) dogfight over his free hours and, despite the rare moments of levity in his existence when his pet mutt dry-humps a stuffed toy, Sandler finds himself muttering about the sweet relief of death and buying a disastrous remote control from Christopher Walken in the Beyond section of a chain housewares store. Good thing he can control time and space—there’s a superstore’s worth of product placement this film has to cram in.
No mistaking it: Coraci can’t direct comedy. His pacing is blunt, his rhythm as uneven as a gravel road, which makes the first half of the flick an awkward eye-roller. At melodrama, however, he’s a mastermind with the fiendish ability to crank up the waterworks using blunt tools like Sandler and Henry “The Fonz” Winkler. Click’s final act is both gentle and grim, as a wizened Sandler surveys the trauma Walken’s fancy gizmo hath wrought. But holding him back from stealing Jimmy Stewart’s crown as the king of redemption pictures is that Steve Koran and Mark O’Keefe’s script feels like its jokes were spackled on later by a committee enslaved by 12-year-old boys. Like yin and yang, there can be no sincerity without a crotch kick, no poignant observation without a lazy gay joke. By hedging its bets, Click leaves everyone unsatisfied.