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The togmob goes to the cinema: "Click"

Yesterday, for the last day of hols before going back to Term 3 of school, mr tog and I took the kids to see Click (the togster particularly had been very taken by the premise when he saw the trailer as we awaited Johnny Deppness the other week). I wasn't expecting greatness, but as I have noticed Adam Sandler becoming much more slick and less annoying in recent years I was prepared to be greatly amused. And indeed I was.
The story is a variation on the old genie-grants-three-wishes tale, and you know what always happens in those, don't you? (Not a spoiler, the trailer makes this explicit)
Yep, the grantee makes wishes without thinking through the consequences, and the consequences come back and bite him (always a him) in the arse. So, we knew this going in, and the whole point of the movie was to enjoy the one-liners and the sight gags (I will never view an oversized stuffed toy duck the same way ever again).

The casting of the support roles is a dream-list of veteran American comedians, including David Hasselhoff and Christopher Walken vying for plasticised ham-of-the-film title, plus the gorgeous Kate Beckinsale looking, well, gorgeous. The cute kids are not impossibly nauseating, which is a pleasant innovation.
The physical comedy was very well done, there were amusing ripostes, there was a surprising anti-consumerist-and-keeping-up-with-the-Jones' subtext and Sandler himself was largely not annoying, in fact, mostly appealing. Sadly, there's only one thing keeping this film from being a really big success with the marketer's favourite young male demographic, and that one thing will also keep it from becoming a true cult classic, IMO.
They just couldn't stop themselves. When the moment of awful realisation comes, where Sandler's character realises the wishes granted have indeed bit him in the arse as we always knew they would, the producers/director just had to lay the trademark overdone Hollywood-maudlin on with a trowel.

Unlike the realisation moments in the now-classic Something About Mary, they didn't undercut the maudlin with enough black humour (Sandler's belly-flapping, which is a fine farcical moment in his realisation, is just farce, not nearly black enough). If they couldn't manage truly black humour, which admittedly is an unevenly distributed talent, a better grade of self-deprecation would have done. Memo to Hollywood: the audience can understand a man's bitter regret without having the heartstrings slammed by a sledgehammer.
Why couldn't they get a British screenwriter in to take over those parts? Richard Curtis could have done self-deprecating standing on his head, Ben Elton wouldn't have had much more trouble coming up with a bit of bizarre black humour, and Ricky Gervais might take a bit longer to produce but the black humour would be perfect in every excruciating detail. John Cleese is right there most of the year and could still teach them all a thing or two about balancing silly walks with a cutting edge. I'm sure that there also exist actual American screenwriters who can emulate a Princess Bride a la William Goldman (like, maybe, William Goldman?).
So who ordered up this tripe and, having read it, didn't order a rewrite? You ruined what might have been a truly classic screwball comedy.
Hollywood-maudlin: Just Say No.

ADDENDUM: I didn't like the casual paternal double-standard about raising sons vs daughters, either. Could have done a better job playing with that trope too, Hollywood-chauvinists.

1 comment:

elsewhere said...

They probably didn't employ a pom because they're yanks. I'm tempted to say that yanks are more up the slapstick/farce end of the spectrum and less likely to appreciate irony, black humour, which is of course a massive generalisation. And I presume that Notting Hill etc were popular in US as well, so the Yank humour premise might not explain that either.
(I saw _Click_: there was acertain point in its Faustian analogy at which it went from good to tedious.)