Every week for the foreseeable future, Vulture will be selecting one film to watch as part of our Friday Night Movie Club. This week’s selection comes from senior editor Jesse David Fox, who will begin his screening of Click on July 24 at 7 p.m. ET. Head to Vulture’s Twitter to catch his live commentary, and look ahead at next week’s movie here.
Have you ever given your cat slightly different cat food? Like, after years of eating chicken, you give it chicken with gravy, and it takes a bite and just sort of pauses. Maybe it looks at you, not sure what feeling it’s feeling but wanting help to understand it. That look is just like the one you get when you tell people Click is the best Adam Sandler movie. And I must’ve gotten it 100 times, before and after publishing that opinion on Vulture, in my 20,000-word ranking of every Adam Sandler movie.
I should say I didn’t go into the ranking expecting Click to be No. 1. My goal was to judge Adam Sandler’s movies based on a value system they’ve established, not something external. I knew I wanted to get at something that might speak to Sandler’s entire career, which meant Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore wouldn’t be at the top. I also knew I wasn’t going to pick one of his prestige movies because that felt antithetical to my desire for the list to be counter to the film-critic consensus. I remembered Click fondly, and hoped it would hold up, so I could at least put it in the top ten or something. My intention was not to troll, but I also didn’t want to be boring. Gun to head: Big Daddy was the initial front-runner.
Then I watched the movies in order. Happy Gilmore was worse than I remembered. The Waterboy was better. The Wedding Singer was wonderful, but it also didn’t feel Sandler-y enough for No. 1. Big Daddy checked all the boxes, but the ending was so messy, I couldn’t justify putting it at the top. I continued. I watched Click and, well, hate to say it, but something sparked — I mean, clicked. It was both funnier than I remembered and more philosophically clear. I read reviews from its release. All pans, but their complaints — about the mix of sophomoric humor and schmaltz — only made it make more sense to me. This was it. And I orientated my list around what it represented.
That was December 2017. The ranking would not run until 2019. I’ll do the math for you — that’s two years. Regardless of the ranking’s length — and there is length — this is not a normal pace. If the same rate were applied to Will Leitch and Tim Grierson’s rankings, it would mean they started compiling them, like, 75 years ago. Well, I was doing, you know, other stuff at the time. And anyway, those two years afforded me an opportunity to talk to a lot of people about the movies of Adam Sandler. If a friend asked, “You working on anything?” I’d tell them about my Adam Sandler ranking. If someone at a party asked what I did for a living, it would take about two minutes before we were talking Sandman.
Early on, as I was telling friends about No. 1 on the list, a lot of their responses were positive. I remember one instantly saying, “That’s awesome!” but in a sort of “You’re crazy for this one” way. Another time, at a friend’s bachelor party, I was nervous to tell a group of bros because I thought my sensitive, nonnormative choice would cause them to make fun of me. But they loved it! I started to feel like it was a real Sandlerheads pick (or a real Fandler pick, as I learned later they were called), especially after one person actually guessed it was going to be Click. To him it was an obvious choice, if you thought of Adam Sandler movies in their own terms, and I agreed.
But as I began telling more people, reactions started to range from people saying “Click?” with a scrunched-up face to people saying “Click!?” with eyes wide. Despite me thinking it’s the best — and despite it being an international megahit (over $300 million in adjusted gross) — to the casual viewer, Click seems to be his most forgettable movie. So there were a lot of “What even is that?” “Okay, but where is Zohan though?” “There’s no way Click is better than Punch-Drunk Love.” The opinions of dissenters were as, if not more, revealing than those of the people who were instantly onboard.
When I finally published the piece, the internet’s responses fell in two camps. Camp one appreciated that I put a lot of thought into a filmmaker to whom people don’t usually give a lot of thought. These opinion-holders were very nice. Still, I can’t remember any of them saying anything about the ranking itself — they more just remarked upon the fact that I wrote 20,000 coherent enough words about taste and comedy and Judaism. Some did say it made them want to watch Click. (We’re watching it Friday, those people.)
And then there was camp two. Oh, camp two.
There were more tweets, of course, but the thrust was the same: The list was incorrect. I don’t begrudge those who clearly didn’t read the whole ranking, or any of it, for that matter. (Though I would be lying if I said the Doughboys podcast dismissing it didn’t sting a little.) But I did tell a lot of these people that they were the incorrect ones. Because to argue that your specific favorite is more valid than Click runs completely contrary to the point of the whole exercise. Unless, that specific favorite belongs to Adam Sandler. If he said Click sucked then maybe I would’ve added an asterisk or something.
But Sandler didn’t respond. I have heard from a few Sandler collaborators and they have been more complimentary than anyone. Judd Apatow, who appeared on a recent episode of Good One, told me he read the whole thing, and he is famously busy. Other than Sandler himself, there was one other opinion I’ve been nervously anticipating: Frank Coraci, director of such films as The Ridiculous 6 (No. 28 on the list), Blended (No. 25), The Waterboy (No. 6), The Wedding Singer (No. 2), and Click — :). As I prepared to revisit the film once again for Vulture’s Friday Night Movie Club, I tracked down his email.
“There’s always a good chance that PTA’s Punch-Drunk Love is on the top of the list,” Coraci wrote when I asked what he thought might be at the top of the ranking. “But if you didn’t go that route, I thought there was a chance that The Wedding Singer could be it. It’s one of the few, besides PTA’s and Apatow’s, that the critics liked. Not that we ever concerned ourselves about that, as you know.”
“But Seeing Click at No. 1 made me extremely happy,” he continued. “This was a film that was very important to Sandler, myself, and the rest of our gang that made it. Sandler’s dad had passed, and he called me and said, “Hey, buddy, I got a movie we have to do together.’”
The emotionality — which I and the film’s fans responded to, and the critics hated — was the draw for Coraci. “One of the things we always have tried to achieve in our movies is to pull people into emotion, and right before they roll their eyes and say that’s schmaltzy, we make them laugh,” he wrote. “What that has always done is [make] the audience trust us, and by the third act they take the full emotional ride.” In the end, Coraci called Click the “most ambitious” of the movies that he and Sandler worked on, as it “made our audience have to face death head-on and they still walk away uplifted.”
When I asked Coraci why Click isn’t talked about as much as other Sandler films, Coraci’s answer was simple: The Waterboy, The Wedding Singer, Happy Gilmore, and Big Daddy are just played on TV more. And yet, he noted, Click “is the one I hear about the most in Europe, South America, Asia, almost everywhere else.”
This is the part of the reconsideration where I talk about the times, as I can’t help but think about a literal desire to fast-forward through this whole pandemic we’re in. Coraci sees the film’s relevance differently. “Geez, now, more than ever, in this crazy world we are in. Family, love, and every single moment we are alive … what can be more special? Cherish them,” he wrote. “We all have spent more time with our parents since the day we made that film. Sandler and I still talk about that sometimes.”
“But I’m glad you got it,” he added, giving me the vindication I needed. “Makes me happy. I’m sure Sandler, too.” There we go. Click is still the best Adam Sandler movie.
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