MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +1

Content: -2

Cast: Adam Sandler, Kate Beckinsale, Christopher Walken, David Hasselhoff, Henry Winkler, Julie Kavner, Sean Astin. Comedy. Written by Steve Koren, Mark OKeefe. Directed by Frank Coraci.

An overworked family man comes into possession of a magical remote control that allows him to fast-forward, replay or pause moments in his life. With each click, he is able to control his career and personal life. But complications arise when the remote device starts to overrule his choices.

This may be the most schizophrenic movie Ive ever seen. Part importance-of-family parable, part crude adolescent comedy, part steal of It's A Wonderful Life, it moves back and forth with all the slipperiness of sandpaper against sandpaper. The elements must have been promising on paper, but in the laboratory they stitched together only to become Frankenstein's monster.

Front and center is the films wobbly structure. First, the premise is set up in wacky fashion. The hen-pecked hubby is treated in slapstick manner, which then gives way to a Twilight Zone-treatment wherein the device systematically overrides his life, taunting him by revealing the good life that he can no longer regain. This portion of our program morbidly morphs into a melodrama, one that includes the loss of parents and a heart attack that leads to the death of a main character. All of a sudden we are to take the proceedings seriously, even though we still get the occasional silly slapstick.

Sandlers edgy style quickly materializes (he always seems to be near a nervous breakdown, not just here, but in every film). Trying to find a remote that will operate the TV, he goes to the only store open, a Bed, Bath and Beyond, where he promptly falls asleep on a floor sample. He awakens to meet a mysterious nutty professor who gives him a universal remote with the warning that he cant return it. (When he responds, Why would I want to return something I got for free? we just know hes gonna want to return it.) This setup would have worked except that Sandler keeps sabotaging himself with cheap Saturday Night Live antics that range from the sophomoric to the sadistic.

Case in point: a spoiled brat living next door bullies Sandlers boy, so Sandler freeze frames the action just as the nasty bully is about to catch a high fly. He repositions the ball glove, then restores the action, allowing the kid to be hit in the head and run home crying. It was a funny bit, if cruel, but the same set up happens several times before Sandler abandons this subplot. Its a running sight gag with no moral payoff. Of course, if you are looking for a sight gag that continues throughout the film, theres the one about the family pet who is constantly humping an inanimate object. This goes all the way to the end of the film. So much for film structure.

Is this supposed to be a family film? I suppose the PG-13 rating is a clue that this isnt for kids, but then why overload the beginning of the story with so much adolescent shtick? Of course, if you dont mind your children hearing their screen counterparts uttering the s-word and the father figure constantly sustaining the slapstick with sexual innuendoes and gross-outs, then perhaps you wont have a problem with the crude scene where the lead freeze frames the action and passes wind into his exploitive employers face.

As for the films wonderful life parable, its a noble endeavor to have a new millennium reminder to enjoy the life we are given. But where Jimmy Stewarts heart-felt interpretation as George Bailey successfully moved the audience, Mr. Sandlers approach to the same concept is constantly cheapened by the coarse buffoonery. Mr. Stewart was grateful to discover Zuzus petals. Mr. Sandler is happy to once again see the dog humping.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Columbia Pictures

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: The film is peppered with crude visuals such as a dog pooping and a man flatulating into another mans face, as well as several sexual innuendos and the exploiting of the female form. There are two many offensive jokes, verbal and visual offenses to write down here.

Obscene Language: 8 S-words, two of them from kids; 1 sob, 1 f-word, 2 ass----, and several minor expletives (damns and hells)

Profanity: 1 GD, 1 J oh my god is repeated a few times.

Violence: Played for laughs, but by freeze framing the action the lead sets up others to be injured; including a child being hit in the head with a baseball and his boss being slapped. The lead kicks a man repeatedly in the groin while the action is on pause.

Sex: Three sexual situations between husband and wife. We see the sexual activity in shadow, speeded up by the remote control device.

Nudity: None, though there are several shots of women in revealing attire, with the camera exploiting them.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: One offensive gesture.

Drugs: The lead smokes cigars in several scenes. There are two drug references, one coming from a child asking her daddy if hes on crack.

Other: None.

Running Time: 98 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and Adults

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