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Sandler clicks

Surprised by ‘Click,’ amused, scared by Gore’s ‘Truth.’


CLICKERS: Sanders and Henry Winkler, who plays his dad.
  • CLICKERS: Sanders and Henry Winkler, who plays his dad.

To be honest, I didn’t have much hope for the new Adam Sandler vehicle, “Click.” Sandler has been trying to remake himself from affable goof to Serious Actor in recent years, with the latter tag hanging on him about as well as a tuxedo on a Yorkshire pig. What’s more, from the trailers I’d seen, the plot looked just plain worn out, better fodder for a “Twilight Zone” rip-off than a feature film.

Sometimes, however, it is good to be surprised. Though it ends a bit predictably, “Click” is still a warm and interesting little film, full of genuinely funny scenes and heartfelt emotion. Making a deep and endearing bow to movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Carol,” it’s the first live-action film of the summer blockbuster season that actually delivers.

Sandler plays Michael Newman, a harried underling at a New York architecture firm who is forced by his near-evil boss (David Hasselhoff, in a masterful casting choice) to work overtime to snag a big client. Newman time and again neglects his family.

Looking to chill out after a long day at work, Newman finds he can’t operate the television, and sets out on a late-night jaunt to find a universal remote. After finding a door marked “Beyond” at Bed, Bath and Beyond, Newman meets the mysterious Morty (Christopher Walken) — a man who might or might not be God, the devil or something in between — who gives him an equally mysterious remote control. Soon, Newman finds that this remote can control more than the TV — that it can fast-forward time; rewind to moments in his past, pause the present and a number of other features. After the memory feature of the remote goes on the fritz, however, Newman finds himself spinning out of control, fast-forwarding helplessly past the important events of his life and losing the love of his family in the process.

Sandler is great here, perfectly balancing the manic side of his personality with the same kind of sweet, lovable-loser charm that made his performance stand out in “Spanglish.” He creates a Michael Newman who we can really feel for, if only because he seems so much like the everyman. Too, because the plot is so universal you’re able to put aside doubt and go with the off-the-wall fantasy of it. Who, for instance, hasn’t dreamed of fast-forwarding to those moments that give us the most joy or pleasure? As illustrated in “Click,” however, the beauty of life is most often found in the in-between, and those who wish to skip the boring parts of their existence might lose just what makes it worth living.

‘Truth’ hurts
Al Gore has a reputation for being about as lively as a stick of stove wood, but that doesn’t mean he’s a dummy.

As seen in the new documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” Gore has been busy in the years since his 2000 presidential election “loss” to George W. Bush. Jetting around the world to deliver a well-documented and meticulously researched lecture on the dangers of global warming, Gore has remade himself as the Paul Revere of a coming environmental Armageddon. Often funny and sometimes delivering facts alarming enough to elicit a gasp from the audience, “Truth” just might be the scariest movie you’ll see this year.

Though it does provide some interesting and all-too-human insight into Gore and his character (scenes in which Gore discusses his sister’s death from cancer, and the loss of the presidential election in 2000, for instance), “Truth” is mostly a big-screen version of Gore’s well-made presentation. While the majority of this production is only a few clicks above a PowerPoint presentation you might sit through at work, the content is alternately fascinating and horrifying. Obscure facts (including some that have been all but buried by the current administration and the mainstream media) run alongside horrific computer-generated projections of what it will look like as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet slowly drowns some of the world’s great cities. Information about the efficiency of domestic vs. foreign cars is set against alarming then-and-now photos showing disappearing glaciers worldwide.

Exploding the dullard blowhard label hung on him by Republican wonks, Gore shows a poise and humor that could have won him the presidency (or won him the presidency by enough of a margin that it couldn’t be stolen from him). Even without the help of his video cue cards, Gore is a well of knowledge on the issue, and speaks with a passion that’s rare in anything today, much less the dry field of climatology. As in Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine,” and “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Gore’s carefully gathered facts paint a portrait of a tragedy — the difference being that he’s talking about a tragedy that hasn’t happened yet. As such, the information stacks up gradually, adding both mass and momentum until you feel as if you’re strapped to the grille of a Peterbilt truck, roaring headlong at a brick wall.

The problem with all this, of course, is one of perception. Those who agree with Gore politically are, of course, going to be shocked and horrified by “Truth.” Those who don’t vote Gore’s way, however, are going to dismiss it as yet another attempt at grandstanding by the attention whore who once claimed he invented the Internet — maybe even an extended commercial for Gore’s 2008 bid for a presidential comeback. While that division is likely going to stand, “Truth” reminds that it’s going to take all of us to avoid being totally screwed a couple of generations (or maybe even a couple of years) from now.

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