Click is, across the board, a forgettable Adam Sandler movie. Far removed from the glory days of Billy Madison and The Wedding Singer, the 2006 comedy falls smack dab in the middle of The Longest Yard and Zohan era where the Sandman had clearly stopped trying as hard.
But while Click regrettably mines a good chunk of its laughs in scatological humor, mild homophobia, some not-so-mild transphobia, and of course, Rob Schneider doing racist character work, the movie does have one saving grace: the relationship between Michael Newman (Sandler) and his dad (Henry Winkler).
So forget Field of Dreams or Big Fish, I’m here to remind you that Click features the most heartbreaking father-son scene in movie history.
For those who are a little hazy on the plot details of Click, Mike is an average joe who routinely blows off his duties as a father and husband due to the high-stress demands of his job as an architect. Feeling a lack of control in his life, one night he heads to Bed Bath & Beyond in the hopes of getting a universal remote. But he ends up running into Morty, a kooky, mysterious scientist (played to perfection by Christopher Walken) who gives him a special remote that lets him control his entire reality, including pausing, rewinding and fast-forwarding his whole existence.
At first, the magic remote is a godsend that allows him to skip past pesky foreplay (boring!) with his wife and fart in his boss’s face (epic!). But perhaps because he didn’t watch enough Twilight Zone as a kid, Mike finds out the hard way that this gift is too good to be true. In pursuit of a promotion, he ends up fast-forwarding through most of his life while managing to destroy his marriage, push his kids away and die trying to save his son from repeating the same mistake of wasting life on work instead of family.
For the most part, the emotional beats of the movie are pretty formulaic and underwhelming — with the notable exception coming when Mike, having been on auto-pilot for nearly two decades, discovers that his dad, Ted, has passed away. Devastated, Mike revisits the last time he sees his dad. And holy shit, it’s a gut punch.
Their final conversation takes place in Mike’s office, as his dad surprises him with the hope of taking him to dinner. However, Mike is trapped in zombie workaholic mode so he blows off his dad’s attempt to bond. In a final act of loving desperation to convince Mike to change his mind, Ted offers to reveal how he does his legendary coin trick if Mike accepts. It’s a trick he’s been doing for Mike since he was a kid, and while he’s always known how it works, Mike has pretended to be surprised to make his old man happy. But after his dad has the audacity to try and share a meal with him, Mike reveals the truth. “I know how you do the stupid trick,” Mike harshly replies, not even looking up to see his dad’s pained expression. “I’ve always known.”
Rather than rightfully tell his son he’s being a massive dick, Ted says he loves him, apologizes for barging in and tearfully walks away. Future Mike gives his dad a kiss on the cheek and tells him he loves him, too, but he knows it’s not enough. His father’s last memory of his son was a cruel, heartless rejection.
I cry every time I rewatch this scene. To be fair, I’m a fairly easy movie crier (one time Bad Moms got me to start weeping on a flight), and a sucker for fractured father-son relationships in movies. But no other scene in the history of cinema, not even Simba spotting Mufasa’s lifeless body, can open up my tear ducts quite like watching Mike watch himself be an ungrateful son to his father.
Why does Click manage to hit me harder than the opening of Up and G-Baby’s funeral in Hardball combined?
Partially, it’s because the idea of anyone being mean to Henry Winkler is unforgivable. But more than that, it strikes a little too close to my own secret fear that I’m never going to be as close to my father as I hoped I would be.
To be clear, I’m not estranged from my dad or anything. In fact, I’d say we have a solid, loving relationship. But like a lot of adult men, I still wonder if I’m Mike, an emotionally stunted asshole who takes his father for granted and routinely opts out of forging the relationship his dad always dreamed of.
Fortunately for Mike (and my emotional well-being), he gets a do-over, as he wakes up to find that he’s back in the Bed Bath & Beyond and joyfully heads straight to his parents’ house to beg his very much alive father to teach him the coin trick before inviting them over for dinner. It’s a sweet moment that gives me hope that there’s still time for me to put in the effort and avoid becoming Mike. After all, if I’m going to be an Adam Sandler character, it’s obviously going to be Mr. Deeds — a Hawaiian Punch water fountain and Winona Ryder falling in love with me? Sign me the fuck up.
So the next time you’re in the mood to spend 90 minutes with the Sandman, give Click another try. Sure, it won’t make you laugh half as much as watching Happy Gilmore for the 100th time, but it might give you the courage to call your dad and tell him you love him.