Saturday, July 08, 2006

Those crazy Emmys!

I have company this weekend, so this will likely be the only post that goes up. Savor it!

I've started this post a number of times and come up short every time. There's just no way to say how deeply hilarious I find the Emmy nominations. When I first saw the drama list, I was a bit unhappy with it. But as I continued down the list, I grew more and more amused by it, to the point where I sort of thought that these nominations perfectly encapsulated the Emmys, which are perhaps the absolute worst awards-giving body (it's a close race between the Emmys and Grammys).

The choice that perfectly shows the Emmys history as a whole is the decision to nominate House for best dramatic series (not one I necessarily disagree with) but to NOT nominate Hugh Laurie AS House. He's the WHOLE SHOW. Without him, one of the five best drama series on TV (according to the Emmys) just DOESN'T WORK. Denis Leary and Kiefer Sutherland? Fine. I like 'em both. Martin Sheen? Should have been supporting (and not in the list). Peter Krause? What? And Christopher Meloni? No.

The new system did exactly what it was supposed to: It opened up the race to new people and shows. But instead of delighting TV fans, it horrified them. Whereas the old system was based on people having to watch a tape in their home and working on the honor system to come up with nominees, this system is predicated on which show had the BEST SINGLE EPISODE. Therefore, it's unfairly skewed toward shows and performances on procedurals, not serials. Unfortunately, most of the best work on television is done on serials. I know many were upset with Lost this season, but was it SO MUCH WORSE than in season one? Bad enough to be worse than the five shows nominated?

The people on the panels tend to be a bit older, so they're most inclined to go with people they know. Stockard Channing might not be THE BEST on Out of Practice, but they'll give her a high score just because they know she's been good in other stuff. But Lauren Graham? Might as well not even be on their radar.

What I find most interesting is that if you look at the categories NOT affected by the changes (and the supporting categories were not) is that they tend to look like the Emmys might have shuffled out some of the old and shuffled in some of the new in the top races this year. Despite some star-love (Alfre Woodard) and a depressing note of sameness (William Shatner), the supporting categories are actually GOOD CATEGORIES with some interesting choices (Will Arnett? Elizabeth Perkins? Chandra Wilson? All awesome). They seem to indicate that the top categories would have seen one of those rare Emmy sea changes where old shows get swept aside for new.

But we'll never know. Because the new system was in place, and it made everything that much poorer.

While it was nice to see The Office get in over Desperate Housewives and Will & Grace, I'm not sure it was worth it, overall.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

The Sound of Sex: Justin Timberlake unleashes "SexyBack" on the world



This was probably the most guarded single in the history of mankind. Since JT released the, only slightly, eccentric details to his upcoming sophomore effort entitled FutureSex/LoveSounds (beats me), over-eager bloggers, teenage girls, and drooling gays have banded together with one quest at hand: To FIND lead-off single SexyBack as soon as possible. Alas, all we got were release dates and a dubiously itchy 16-second clip intended as a ringtone. No thanks! So, like mortals, we waited. How utterly sickening! So this week they went ahead and finally released SexyBack to radio stations and we were all able to hear it at the same time. Gross. Needless to say, if this first single is any indication of the album itself, you can rest assured that FutureSex/LoveSounds may end up being one of the most daring follow-up albums in a good long while. The track is deliciously trashy in every way, with needlessly vulgar lyrics to boot (for Timberlake, anyway.) Its sonic base is both unrelenting and marvelously contained within its odd allure. Driving synth circles bathed in a radiating sheen; dirty as it seems, something shines on through. Justin, obviously going for a recreation of sorts, succeeds fairly easily here, so you never get the sense of him trying too hard. He’s got a real Prince vibe going on--and it shockingly works. As for how the ALBUM will play out in that respect, I cannot say. For now, however, I will say that SexyBack is, simultaneously, a ridiculously apt club anthem and a surprisingly earnest first foot forward in an uphill battle that may prove well worth the sweat. Not the best single I’ve heard this year, but the best you can hope for after the brilliance of something like Cry Me a River.

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Byarrrrrrrring: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

(My chickens. If you want Emmy commentary, wait a day. I'm percolating something.)

I can already feel myself (and most of the critical community) going out on a limb with this one, but Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is a big, bloated mess of a movie, which overstays its welcome by a considerable degree. Everything that made the first movie so fun is here in enormous quantities, as though Jerry Bruckheimer went and shopped for plot devices at Costco. But because the story neglects to give us characters to latch on to (instead, grafting one of its character's plot arcs on to Han Solo's from The Empire Strikes Back), it becomes an exercise in meaningless action.

Don't get me wrong. There's a lot to admire in this movie. The action sequences are well constructed (especially a three-way sword fight that also meshes with various other action-y moments in some fairly interesting ways), and there are quite a few funny lines. What's more, Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow is a character for the ages, tossing off yet another ridiculously fun performance. And Bill Nighy matches him, note for note (behind a digital squid mask, no less). And the visual effects are some of the best you've ever seen. Disney spent a lot of money on this movie, and every penny is up there on screen. Plus, Davy Jones crew of weird, sea-creature/human hybrids is always fun to look at in that silly/grotesque way.

Unfortunately, when they blew up the first Pirates (a surprising summer confection), they blew up everything that was wrong with it too. While Keira Knightley has improved as an actress since the first film and generates some real heat here with her romantic interest(s), Orlando Bloom is still a dull, dull choice for a lead. The storyline with Bloom and his father, played by Stellan Skaarsgard, feels like a weighty attempt to give the story some heft, but it just falls flat because Bloom can't carry the task of making us feel he's REALLY glad to see his dad again.

Plus, every character is brought back from the first Pirates film. This is surely a film made for the devoted who adopted the first as their religion. If you go in without having seen the first film recently, be warned. Still, I haven't seen the first one since 2003, and I did all right. I didn't recognize everyone, but I was able to figure out what predetermined role they filled in the summer blockbuster template and go from there (Hey! It's Mr. Exposition! And there's C-3PO and R2-D2!). If you HAVEN'T seen part one, and you're keen on this, rent the first one. You'll thank yourself in the morning.

Now. On to the story. My biggest problem with the film.

There have been complaints that this story is hard to follow. It's not. Not really. You don't need a flowchart or a scorecard or anything to keep up with what's going on. It's not like War & Peace or anything. But there is an inordinate amount of plot and not enough character in this film. It feels like an attempt to disguise how much the writers are treading water (yes, this is a middle movie) by piling on meaningless plot twist after meaningless plot twist. It's tempting to say that this is a popcorn movie, not a film noir, but I think that's barking up the wrong tree.

The problem here is that the filmmakers assume we care about the characters already, so they give us no compelling reason to care about them beyond the idea that they're the main characters. Furthermore, they're inconsistent, doing things not because they want to do them, but because the plot demands it of them (a frequent plot-twist-heavy-film complaint).

I like the way the film starts in medias res, at a ruined wedding in the middle of a torrential downpour (even if I kept expecting Slash to step out of the chapel and start playing a bitchin' guitar solo). I love that they trust us to catch up here.

But. . .then they expect us to catch up too much.

I don't mind fan wanking (the process of fans drawing conclusions about things that don't seem to make sense in a genre piece), but if you have to fan wank the central plot device of a film like this, you're in trouble.

You see, everyone in this film wants a chest, filled with the heart of Davy Jones. If they can get their hands on this chest they can. . .well. . .

Here's where it gets interesting. We believe that Jack Sparrow wants the chest. He's in hoc to Jones. We believe that Orlando wants the chest. He's looking to free his father from Jones' purgatory. But why does the man who starts the whole plot in motion, the man who runs the East India Trading Company want the chest in the first place?

He claims he wants it to control the power of the sea.

And here's the thing. We're NEVER told how, exactly, this would work. Presumably the big boss knows, but he's not telling. Honestly, I've seen lots of great theories on how this works. I came up with one myself while watching. BUT IT TOOK ME OUT OF THE MOVIE. And when your main goal is to be a confection-y thrill, that's not a good thing.

ALL of this plot feels like needless busywork for the audience. We spend so much time concentrating on the plot that we feel as if we're being distracted from something. And we are. We're being distracted by just how little we buy into the characters' motivations. And by just how little we don't care about any character that's not Sparrow, Keira or Davy Jones.

Now, I could talk about how the characters do things to service the plot rather than the other way around, but that would get in to spoiler territory. If there's enough interest, I'll post a spoiler review later this weekend.

But let's look at a scene that sets all of this up in a nutshell.

Orlando challenges Davy Jones to a dice game to win a key that Jack needs to open the chest from Davy. At the last second, Orlando's dad enters the game to protect his son. They play along and play along and we suddenly become aware that we have NO IDEA how this game is played, much less how exactly the bidding will work and how, exactly, there can be only one loser, instead of only one winner. We're able to piece most of this together (the game isn't incredibly complicated), but it's more work for us, more of an attempt to make us play catch-up. ALL we need is ONE line of dialogue to set up how the game works beyond "It's a game of deception!"

The worst thing about all of the plot twists is that almost all of them negate everything that went before (except for the ones leading up to the action sequence described above). It makes you feel cheated for investing SO MUCH in the movie, only to have the rug pulled out from under you.

It's an elaborate show of distracting us, this movie. And there's a crass, cliffhanger ending that piles on a twist that's pretty obvious thanks to a throwaway shot in an earlier sequence. It also really hurts that the film ends just as the story starts to get going.

And I haven't even mentioned how it takes an hour for the story to get going, thanks to a weird desire to throw what amounts to an animated short into the start of the movie.

I won't complain about the film's length. Or its plot holes (both are things many reviewers are complaining about). I think that length in a film is relative. If the film is good, it flies by. If not, it crawls by. Pirates splits the difference. And I don't think that plot holes matter in a film unless they confront you as you watch it (I'll write more about this some other time).

I'll still see Pirates 3. But it will feel like more of an obligation than a delight. This could have been such a fun franchise, but they've significantly overplayed their hands here.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Emmys Announce Nominees

Jon here, filling in for Todd. The nominees are in, and one thing's for sure: These are the most insane, craziest nominees in the history of the Emmys, period.

Drama
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
House (FOX)
The Sopranos (HBO)
24 (FOX)
The West Wing (NBC)

Comedy
Arrested Development (FOX)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
The Office (NBC)
Scrubs (NBC)
Two and a Half Men (CBS)

Actor (Drama)
Dennis Leary, Rescue Me (FX)
Peter Krause, Six Feet Under (HBO)
Christopher Meloni, Law and Order: SVU (NBC)
Martin Sheen, The West Wing (NBC)
Kiefer Sutherland, 24 (FOX)

Actor (Comedy)
Steve Carell, The Office (NBC)
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
Kevin James, The King of Queens (CBS)
Tony Shalhoub, Monk (USA)
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men (CBS)

Actress (Drama)
Frances Conroy, Six Feet Under (HBO)
Geena Davis, Commander in Chief (ABC)
Mariska Hargitay, Law and Order: SVU (NBC)
Alison Janney, The West Wing (NBC)
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer (TNT)

Actress (Comedy)
Stockard Channing, Out of Practice (CBS)
Jane Kaczmarek, Malcom in the Middle (FOX)
Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback (HBO)
Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS)
Debra Messing, Will & Grace (NBC)

Supporting Actor (Drama)
Alan Alda, The West Wing (NBC)
Michael Imperlioni, The Sopranos (HBO)
Gregory Itzen, 24 (FOX)
Oliver Platt, Huff (Showtime)
William Shatner, Boston Legal (ABC)

Supporting Actor (Comedy)
Will Arnett, Arrested Development (FOX)
Bryan Cranston, Malcom in the Middle (FOX)
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men (CBS)
Sean Hayes, Will & Grace (NBC)
Jeremy Piven, Entourage (HBO)

Supporting Actress (Drama)
Candice Bergen, Boston Legal (ABC)
Blythe Danner, Huff (Showtime)
Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
Jean Smart, 24 (FOX)
Chandra Wilson, Grey's Anatomy (ABC)

Supporting Actress (Comedy)
Cheryl Hines, Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
Megan Mullally, Will & Grace (NBC)
Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds (Showtime)
Jaime Pressley, My Name is Earl (NBC)
Alfre Woddard, Desperate Housewives (ABC)

And yes, these ARE the real nominations. See?

Anyway, Todd will be back later, filled with much analysis and seething hatred.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Can IMAX save movie theaters?

I went to see Superman Returns in IMAX-3D tonight, and it was great fun. PART of the fun was the circus of seeing the movie itself. The 3D in IMAX-3D is not completely there just yet (it's a bit hard to focus on something at the dead center of the screen), but it's good enough to actually enhance the experience, rather than detract from it (as traditional 3D often did).

The audience was hyped up for it, though. They even applauded the trailer for The Ant Bully, and the four 3D sequences in the film itself got big ovations.

Which got me to thinking.

Could IMAX save the movie theater business?

Granted, IMAX-3D seems a poor way to show an art film or an indie comedy or something, but those tend to be consigned to arthouses anyway (unless they're huge breakout hits).

But when the movie industry wanted to combat television, what did it do? It made the screen bigger. It introduced gimmicks. And it turned to lavish productions that you just couldn't see on television. These measures were just enough of a stopgap to get film to the 70s, when it became something people went to see for the art as much as the spectacle and the studios could breathe easily again.

IMAX-3D combines all of the above. It's on a massive screen, it's got a built-in gimmick (that actually works and could be utilized in all sorts of neat, storytelling-centric ways), and it would seem to best benefit big, spectacular films (like Superman or animated comedies -- I'll bet that Spider-Man turns up in 3D as well, come next May). Plus, movie theaters can legitimately charge more money for IMAX tickets, as your average Joe will think he's getting more for his money.

Now, obviously, I don't know that this will enhance the art of cinema all that much, but it certainly could help the commerce of cinema. It's definitely something you can't wait to see at home, that's for sure.

We're in the nascent days of this technology (indeed, something like 100 screens in North America are equipped to show Superman in 3D), but I can't help but think that the days of all-IMAX multiplexes are that far off, with directors doing their best to throw in two or three sequences per movie that would look great in 3D.

And the market for retrofitting old films as 3D films could be enormous. Who doesn't want to see Star Wars in 3D, just to see how it looks? Or Raiders of the Lost Ark? Or Lawrence of Arabia, to get a sense of those vast, vast desert expanses?

I'm not going to pretend that this is going to do anything to solve Hollywood's budgetary excess (as popular a character as Superman is, no character merits a nearly $300 million budget), but it could prove a stopgap to get the industry through some rough times if carried out on a wider scale.

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Perfect episodes: "Once More with Feeling" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Go on! Click on the picture! It will make for read-timey goodness!

Ahem.

It's the bane of the TV producer. Indeed, it's the bane of the TV fan -- the gimmick episode.

But when sweeps month rolls around, you can just about guarantee that various shows will be testing their respective casts' abilities to sing and dance or perform Shakespeare or reenact classic episodes of The Twilight Zone.

Sometimes, these episodes work, both as gimmicks and as episodes. But those are exceptions. Because most of the time, gimmick episodes are kind of fun while you're watching them but fall apart under further scrutiny, working as gimmicks, but not as episodes. And then there's the 7th Heaven musical, which is just ninth-ring-of-Hell bad.

Actually, though, the television musical has a long and noble history (and that article actually forgets the Chicago Hope musical, which wasn't all that bad, all things considered -- then again, I saw it when I was a teenager trying vainly to repress my love of Andrew Lloyd Webber -- it was a dark time all around). As stunts go, doing a musical episode isn't such a bad idea, since so many TV casts are filled with musical theater veterans who can shoulder the burden for the rest of the cast. And even if the episode is a complete flop, it's nice to hear some of your favorite tunes, so you're likely to forget that the whole thing didn't work on a story level or advance season arcs or anything.

But that all changed with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical, arguably the finest filmed American musical of the last quarter century or so (away from me Newsies fans -- just because you saw it when you were a kid doesn't mean it's good!).

But let's examine just what the Buffy musical had to live up to.

If you must do a gimmick episode, Joss Whedon is the man to do it. He took the many forms of gimmick episode as originally defined by TV writers in the 60s and encoded by the staff of Moonlighting in the 80s and breathed life into them. Since Buffy was a show that operated on a grand, metaphorical scale, Whedon could find ulterior motives to do a gimmick episode. Season four's Hush, for example, found Whedon examining issues of lack of communication by filming an episode that was nearly a silent movie (demons stole everyone's voices -- on second thought, you don't want to know). When Angel (the vampire of his self-titled show) was feeling like a corporate puppet for his bosses at evil law firm Wolfram & Hart, he LITERALLY BECAME A PUPPET (Whedon didn't write and direct that one, but his hand is all over it).

This could have gotten nauseating and overly obvious, but Buffy always glided along with such an effervescent air that it got away with a lot (its rather casual attitude also meant the show could suckerpunch you with a devastating plot twist like no other show in television history). That silent episode is equal parts stylistic triumph, frightening horror film and bawdy comedy. At its best (and even at its worst), Buffy worked on levels within levels, mainly dancing through its playful use of the English language.

All right. Enough fanboyishness.

When it came time for season six, the musical episode Whedon had been promising since at least season four (when he said it would make an interesting companion to Hush) finally came around. He took his summer hiatus to actually write an entire libretto (which, after numerous listens, sounds as influenced by Neil Young as it is by Stephen Sondheim), complete with break-out pop hit (Under Your Spell -- performed at weddings everywhere!), patter songs (I'll Never Tell) and songs that bring every character into a musical tableau (Walk through the Fire). Hell, there's even a classic "I wish" song (Going through the Motions) to open the whole enterprise up. The only song that doesn't work is the rather tepid rocker, Rest in Peace, given to vampire/love interest/villain Spike.

But even if you don't like the songs, even if you can't sing the whole thing bar to bar, you have to admire what Whedon did. By writing all of his own songs in his own style, he freed the television musical from what has held it back in the past -- comparisons to other versions of the same songs.

Invariably, no one on the writing staff has the time to write a complete musical score. So older songs that the production company can get the rights to are used instead. This is all well and good, but it's hard to hear, say, Adam Arkin sing Luck Be a Lady and not compare it to all of the other versions of Luck Be a Lady you've heard before. It rips you out of the moment and sends your attention down a rabbit trail. Plus, the lyrics, barring heavy rewriting, only apply to the situation at hand obliquely. They can't be used to advance the plot or reveal character or express emotions (the typical use of a song in a classic Hollywood musical is to stand in for where there would be a sex scene or a scene of violence in a "straight" drama -- we're all so emotional that we've just gotta' sing about it and such). When Arkin sings Luck Be a Lady, he's singing it because he hopes he's lucky enough to pull out of brain surgery (Chicago Hope, if you hadn't guessed). But that's a painfully flat reading of the song, and it makes the whole sequence nothing more than a curiosity.

By writing his own songs, Whedon was able to avoid this. When Tara sings Under Your Spell, she's revealing her love for her girlfriend AND setting up a plot point (her implicit trust in said girlfriend) that will pay off later AND letting us listen to the purty music AND indulging in a deliciously great double entendre for oral sex. We don't need to see these two kids are happy. We don't need to see they're in love. We can hear it in the music. The song works on any or all of these levels, and you can take from it what you want, just like in the best stage and film musicals.

(Here I bring everything to a screeching halt by pointing out that some of the finest film musicals -- Singin' in the Rain among them -- completely ignore what I just said above and use songs from other sources to dazzling effect. Well, honestly, if you're Singin' in the Rain, you can get away with a whole lot. Gotta Dance indeed.)

But -- what's more -- Whedon again finds a way to make the gimmick work as a storytelling device. At this point in the season's arc, all of the characters are stewing in the juices of secrets they're keeping from each other. But the central idea of the musical is that emotions are so heightened that you've just gotta sing and open up those floodgates. And so, Buffy reveals to her friends where they yanked her from when they resurrected her, Tara and Willow's lovers' spat comes to a head and Giles reveals just how useless he feels now that his surrogate kids are all growed up. Hush, Whedon explained when it first aired, was about having too little communication, but the musical (as he had conceived of it at that point) was about people having TOO MUCH communication. While, of course, secrets are acid-filled things that rot relationships from the inside out, they often won't come out without that extra little shove. In real life, it might be a lover finding an incriminating e-mail or pushing you to the brink in an argument, but in a musical, the song itself is enough to spill. And that's something Once More with Feeling exploits beautifully.

One last note: Most of the cast of Buffy was NOT made up of musical theater veterans. Anthony Stewart Head (Giles) and Amber Benson (Tara) were clearly singers before the show, and Emma Caulfield (Anya) had some theater work in her background, but the core cast of the show featured a lot of people who had very little singing experience. Whedon wrote that into the show, explaining that everyone was singing because of a demon's curse. It was a humorous way to explain the postmodern complaint of "Why are they all singing?" away as quickly as possible, and it also explained some of the rather flat singing.

Okay. You've been good. You've read all of my prattle. Here are some SONGS.

First. I've Got a Theory (special bonus: They Got the Mustard Out).



Next. I'm Under Your Spell (complete with one of Whedon's absolute worst, most on-the-nose lines ever -- see if you can spot it!).



Finally, the show's two best singers sing together.



Want more? Go rent the DVD.

And have a safe and happy Fourth. Enjoy the barbecue!

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy Independence Day!

Our contributors are busy with vacations or celebrating the fact that we live in a country where we can buy pornography or writing pieces for other publications (guilty as charged), so blogging will be a bit slow over the next week.

In the meantime, if you would be interested in contributing to Movies of Our Childhood week (viewing movies you saw as a kid and giving your grown-up reflections on them), please e-mail me. No piece will be turned down! All pieces may be edited!

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

"Who's got the box?": Click

Click, which I mercifully saw for free, is a movie that tries far too hard at everything it does. It tries to be a silly gross-out comedy. It tries to be a sentimental Capra-esque type story. It tries to be a tale of family loved, then lost.

You can almost see the strain on its face.

But let's back up just a bit.

I am not, by nature, an Adam Sandler hater. I don't think there's a single one of his movies that I would unequivocally recommend (well, Punchdrunk Love, but that's not REALLY a Sandler movie, is it?), but I also don't think he's emblematic of any great failure of American culture (he mostly proved that teenage boys like fart jokes -- but teenage boys have ALWAYS liked fart jokes). Happy Gilmore is probably his pinnacle, a dark, violent comedy full of sophomoric jokes and weird surrealist bent that is never allowed to come to full flower. Some, I suppose, would argue for The Waterboy, but Happy Gilmore was where the formula saw its first perfect application.

But Sandler has tried to imbue this formula with something that makes it nauseating, hard to take: sentimentality. From Big Daddy on, his films have become steeped in moments of sheer, corny emotion that just don't mesh with the other stuff described above. In Big Daddy, he really wanted a kid. In Anger Management, he really wanted the girl. And in Click, he really wants to hold on to his family.

Click feels like a personal film for Sandler in many ways. You can see in how hard he's trying to act here. And he manages to land a few of the more emotional scenes. When he reacts to his cold self rebuffing his father (this all makes more sense if you'll see the movie -- but please don't), the scene almost works. Whatever acting coach he's hired is working for him.

But the central failure of this film is the central failure of MANY Hollywood films now: Click has a great high-concept and no idea of what to do with it.

The high concept is this: Adam Sandler gets a remote control that controls the universe. It's genius in its simplicity -- indeed, you can't believe it hasn't been a movie before, especially since EVERYone has pointed a remote at someone jokingly to hit the mute button or turn down the volume. And the writers of this film introduce lots of nifty ideas on how to use the remote and then don't really use ANY of them, choosing to focus on the fast forward device, which takes Sandler's character through the decades far too quickly as he watches his life disintegrate around him (hence the treacly sentiment I warned you about).

The remote, you see, remembers what you've fast forwarded before and programs itself accordingly. Fast forward through a traffic jam, and it will fast forward through EVERY traffic jam. Fast forward through a shower, and it will fast forward through EVERY shower. And so on.

This COULD be a sort of nifty metaphor for the way so many fast forward through their family lives to advance their career lives (believing the latter will benefit the former), but Click is too depressingly on the nose in that regard to work. It flat-out tells you what its central metaphor stands for.

What's more, none of the jokes land. They don't have the reckless goofiness of Sandler's best gags. Some of them are just disgusting without finding any sort of amusement.

Finally, Kate Beckinsale plays one of the most saintly, un-feminist wives in the history of the movies. Let me repeat that Adam Sandler is married to KATE BECKINSALE. And the movie wants us to believe that he would NOT BE THAT EXCITED TO HAVE SEX WITH HER. I'm sorry. I just couldn't buy this. He's Adam Sandler. She's KATE BECKINSALE. No, Click. No.

Amid all of this, Christopher Walken somehow manages to make his performance work, even if he's playing one of the most inexplicable characters in any film this year (really -- try to explain to me his motivations after you've watched this film). Of course he's just relying on his old schtick, but it's schtick he performs well, and you're happy to see him whenever he's on screen.

Please don't see this movie. It's gaudy and shoddily made (the makeup is atrocious). The jokes aren't funny, and the sentimental moments are (for the wrong reasons). And it wastes perfectly competent actors who are funny people in roles that are underwritten or feel like they were entirely chopped out in the editing room.

There are many, MANY better choices for your family entertainment dollar than Click. I trust you'll find them.

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