Searching for Purpose
Two gems and a dud: 'Superman Returns,' 'Nacho Libre,' and 'Click'
BY: Sharon Linnea
When a beautiful young nun arrives at the orphanage at the same time the orphans' daily allotment of broken tortilla chips is stolen, the hapless young friar turns to a life of wrestling to earn food money for the children.
What makes the film work is that Jack Black throws himself so totally into the role (and the ring) and so completely believes every crazy thing his character does and every nutty thing he says and sings. He finally finds himself, and happiness, when he stops pretending and "comes out" as the wrestler he's always been underneath. Throughout the entire movie, Nacho Libre and his sidekick Skeleto never manage to win a match--until the end, when they truly know what they're fighting for. Nacho Libre is as much a fairy tale as is "Superman Returns," although a much loopier one. It manages to respect faith even when questioning some of its rules and practices. What other movie has a song in which the hero proclaims with gusto, "I am, I am a real religious man!"?
The sad part about this Adam Sandler film is the could-have-beens. The premise of "Click" was so good that it could have become a classic, serving to be Sandler's crossover from foul-mouthed teen icon to adult leading man. It could have done for Sandler what "Groundhog Day" did for Bill Murray.
But it seems Sandler didn't trust his audience enough to let them mature along with him (he's nearly 40, for crying out loud). Instead, "Click" attempts to smash a foul-mouthed, bodily-function humor first half together with a wistful, grown-up second half. The whole thing ends up being like one of those mismatched ads for Sour Patch Kids candy--first it's sour! Then it's sweet! Then it's gone!
But the premise is a good one--an underappreciated ordinary guy wanders into the "Beyond" section of Bed, Bath, and Beyond (talk about the ultimate product placement), where Christopher Walken gives him a "universal remote" that works not just for television, but for life. It can fast forward, rewind, and change languages. It's very handy--till the fine print kicks in, and our hero ends up fast forwarding his whole life, living it only on auto pilot.
At the beginning, our ordinary guy is the typical Sandlerian hero--an overgrown adolescent in an adult body. I guess he feels he needed to do that, but I actually found it sad when he got the boy next door (who is admittedly a bully, but has a really troubled home life) into big trouble by telling a lie, which would be believed solely because Sandler's character is a grown-up.
Some reviews likened this film to a current-day "It's a Wonderful Life." But in "Wonderful Life," the hero discovers he had spent his life helping people--in fact, he's practically saved the whole town of Bedford Falls by following his innate sense of goodness and decency. But the hero of "Click" didn't learn anything about becoming a better person, helping others, or empathizing with the bullied kid next door. The most he learns is that life is about spending more time with your family. Nothing against that, of course, but since the movie brings up the meaning of life, is that really all it can find?
I went to this movie with my kids, my husband, and my dad, and while none of us are prudes by any means, the language and sexual humor didn't seem to enhance anyone's enjoyment of the film. It kind of put a damper on things, and trust me, this isn't always the case. It's strange that both this film and "Superman Returns" are rated PG-13. One I would definitely take kids to. This one, had I known, I would not.