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Channeling Capra

Happy Gilmore, meet George Bailey

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Adam Sandler earns his hefty paychecks for comedies like The Wedding Singer and the execrable Big Daddy, but he satisfies his thespian aspirations with films like Punch-Drunk Love and the underrated Spanglish. With Click, he attempts to have it both ways.

Spending more time sucking up to his unctuous boss (David Hasselhoff) than bonding with his wife (Kate Beckinsale) and kids, Michael Newman (Sandler in familiar man-child mode) is so distracted that he can't even keep track of the household remotes (he points the clicker at his TV and the garage door opens). Venturing into the "Beyond" section of Bed, Bath & Beyond, he stumbles upon eccentric employee Morty (Christopher Walken), who gives him a universal remote that allows him to program his life as well as his TV set: He can mute the dog's barking, fast-forward through foreplay and even listen to audio commentary (provided by James Earl Jones) on past events in his life.

For the first half of the film, this clever concept yields some genuine laughs but more often gets buried under the sort of adolescent humor that long ago became the actor's calling card (how many times do we have to watch the family dog hump a stuffed animal?). Then the movie shifts course dramatically: Morphing into an update of Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, it chronicles how the remainder of Michael's life becomes a human tragedy, as he's unable to stop the remote from fast-forwarding through the years, ultimately leaving him with bitter memories and numerous regrets.

The comedy isn't as pointed as desired and the drama isn't as maudlin as expected, yielding decidedly mixed results. Still, it should prove to be an acceptable DVD rental in about six months. If they can get James Earl Jones for the audio commentary, so much the better.

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