Monday, December 25, 2006

Are you on Autopilot?

Saw the movie "Click" - Adam Sandler, Kate Beckingsdale, Christopher Walken. If you haven't seen it yet, you might not want to read further.

It was an interesting movie. Adam Sandler is an architect with a wife and two kids. He's a workaholic because his boss expects it, because he wants to make partner to make a lot of money, and because he wants to keep up with the rich family next door. He constantly misses out on home life because of work, missing swim meets, school meetings, dinner, and the like, and still feels tremendous pressure to do more and more at work. And because he's never at home, he does not know how to operate all the separate remote controls (one for fan, one for TV, one for garage, etc). One night, he decides that he is going to buy a universal remote control, because the Jones' next door have one, and it will simplify his life. And on that fateful night, Bed Bath and Beyond is the only store open.

He wanders the aisle looking for a remote control, and ends up plopping on a comfortable bed. We then join him as he finds himself in the storage part of the building, where he meets Walken, and actually finds this universal remote control. Only it's more than he bargained for - it can control his world.

As he spends the next few days figuring out how to work the remote, he realizes that it can do whatever he wants. His life is recorded like a DVD. He can choose to go back to specific times in the past. He can pause life. He can even fast forward through the "boring" and the "bad" (sitting in traffic, taking a shower, foreplay/sex, arguing with his wife). Given this knowledge, one night he gives in to the temptation to forward to the time when he has finally become partner. His boss had been dangling this carrot for the longest time, and the latest promise was that he would make partner in two months. So he chooses to fast forward to that point in time. Only it ends up to be one year later, because the boss kept on stringing him along.

So now it's one year later, and the only thing he knows is that he has made partner. During the time that he fastforwarded, "he" was still in the "movie" but functioning on "autopilot" - an emotionally removed, distracted participant in his own life. He misses out on a year of his kids' life. His marriage is now on the rocks.

Then the remote goes crazy. Based on the "user preferences," it decides to fast forward every time he tries to do what he fastforwarded through before. He can no longer sit in traffic. He can't take a shower. He's fastfowarded through sex. And most importantly, it fastforwards him to his next promotion, which happens ten years later.

The ten year older Sandler is wildly successful at work, but his personal life is a mess. He is grossly overweight. His wife divorced him. He doesn't recognize his children. His beloved dog passed away. And his father died as well. Driven mad by this last finding, he commands the remote to take him back to the last time he saw his dad. And he watches his autopilot self brush off his father's last attempt to connect with him.

The next promotion/fastforward takes him to his son's wedding. His son is now an architect at his firm, with a work ethic learned from his father. At the wedding, he has a massive heart attack and ends up in the hospital, on futuristic life support. His children visit him, and he learns that his son is about to skip over his honeymoon because an emergency came up at work. The children are ushered away by a nurse. This realization, that his son has become a replica of his younger self greatly pains him, and he decides to rush after them to tell them his hard learned life lesson. He succeeds in telling them that "family is what matters most," but dies in the process, because he self-disconnected from the life support to get to them.

Then he wakes up on the BBB bed, elated to find that this was only a fateful and pivotal dream. With this newfound truth, he becomes a new man.

While parts of the movie were a little hard to believe, overall, it should touch a lot of America. After all, how many people do you know who are stuck in a rat race that they hate, yet cannot get out of? And the final lesson is such a beautiful and easily forgotten truth - that money, fame, power, means little on a deathbed. That what matters most is who you were and how you mattered to those around you. That the seemingly insignificant things in life, even daily annoyances like sitting in traffic, are all little packets of life, strung together to make a majestic whole. That in an era of outsourcing, to miss out on any of these is to miss out on living.

At this contemplative time of year, my wish is that we can all remember to take off the blinders and see life for what it truly is. Sometimes frustrating, sometimes boring, but when it's all said and done, always worth living. And that "meaningful" is less what is actually happening, and more what we take out of the experience.

photo credit


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this movie, surprisingly, slightly less offensive than the usual Sandler fare.

Perhaps the Walkenisation was a factor...

Just a suggestion - your typeface is a little hard on older eyes...!


4:55 AM  
Blogger always learning said...

Hello Dr. D - Welcome! Agree that this was better than the usual Sandler comedy - was pretty impressed with his dramatic acting in some scenes!

As for the typeface, I welcome any and all suggestions - is it the size or the actual font that is hard to read?

Happy holidays!

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just the size. For my old eyes.


10:58 PM  
Blogger ipanema said...

Good post and what a timing it is. perhaps before the new year we will find time to reflect on 'living'.

1:47 AM  
Blogger always learning said...

Dr. D - sorry about the small font... I did that because otherwise the post would have taken up pages of space - will think twice about it next time, thx for feedback

Thanks, Ipanema. I think we always need to step back and reflect - it's so easy to get caught up and forget what life is really about.

2:02 PM  

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