Eleven years after Billy Madison, Click finds Adam Sandler still being tormented by freckled redheads named O’Doyle, the inescapable impression that the star must have been mercilessly picked on by like-named bullies as a kid (against whom he’s now exacting repeated cinematic revenge) consistent with his pathological fixation on his formative adolescent ‘80s heyday. From the appearance of David Hasselhoff as the fatuous, demanding boss of Sandler’s workaholic architect and neglectful family man Michael Newman, to the predictably kitschy soundtrack cuts from The Cars and Loverboy, to the flashback to Michael wearing a Judas Priest concert t-shirt, the SNL alum’s latest lowbrow vehicle drenches itself in Reagan-era trappings even as its story speeds from the present to the distant future, as if that decade—already mined to the hilt by the nostalgic The Wedding Singer—were the only time period relatable to Sandler (and, by extension, his multitude of similarly aged fans).
Such a narrow, stunted worldview is partially at odds with director Frank Coraci’s two-trick pony, which attempts to mellow the comedian’s infantile humor via supposedly grown-up solemnity, its narrative—about the initial pleasures, and then unforeseen pains, bestowed upon Michael by a magical remote control that controls every aspect of his life—a combination of lowbrow Waterboy gags in the early going and A Christmas Carol moralizing melodrama in its near-unendurable latter half. The extent to which Click develops Sandler’s persona, however, can be equated with the inclusion of early ‘90s flourishes into its miasma of ‘80s references, the Cranberries’s “Linger” (replete with a cameo by Dolores O’Riordan) and U2’s Achtung Baby gem “Ultraviolent (Light My Way)” indicative of the miniscule baby steps taken by Coraci and screenwriters Steve Koren and Mark O’Keefe to thrust the comedian’s trademark buffoonery (here characterized by a recurring dog-humping bit and a Fat Bastard-style special effects gag) into more “mature” territory.
Before it devolves into a misbegotten version of It’s a Wonderful Life by way of Bicentennial Man, the film indulges in plenty of puerile remote-related bits—use of the slow-motion feature for gawking at a jogger’s bouncing boobs, the pause button for farting in Hasselhoff’s face, the fast-forward function for skipping arguments with hottie wife Donna (Kate Beckinsale)—sure to satiate die-hards, its central conceit mined only for the most mundane scenarios possible. As Morty, the kooky mad scientist who sells Michael the remote in the “Beyond” section of Bed Bath & Beyond, Christopher Walken rises above the proceedings’ banality by intentionally operating on a different, thoroughly bizarre plane than his costars, whimsically breaking into impromptu song or dance at a moment’s notice and without care to the particulars of the action at hand. As with every other scant trace of inventiveness, though, even Walken’s out-there antics are eventually subsumed by Click‘s third-act earnestness, its artery-clogging schmaltz proving squishier (and significantly less tasty) than Michael’s beloved Twinkies.