November 18, 2006

The Ultimate Invention: The Time-Stopper

Seeing the movie "Click" yesterday reminded me of the childhood fantasy of the "time stopper", a theoretical device that could, as its name implies, stop time, for any reason, yet retain the flexibility needed to act on situations as the holder of said time stopper preferred. In my mind, the time stopper could be used for putting the world on snooze while catching extra sleep, while finishing uncompleted homework, or for snaking the cookies on the counter, and nobody finding out it was you who had done it. In fact, the time stopper I had mentally developed as a youth would have been much better utilized than Adam Sandler's foray into fourth dimension manipulation in the film.

In "Click", Sandler, frustrated by a litany of remotes dedicated to a single task, goes "Beyond" in a nearby Bed Bath and Beyond, looking for a universal remote, and finds a doozy, thanks to the inventiveness of Christopher Walken. The remote enables him to fast-forward through boring dinners, spousal fights, and to pause time, as in the often-shown preview where he manipulated the annoying neighbor's son into getting hit in the face by a thrown baseball, from his own son. But while many of the movie's central frustrations were around completing work-related tasks at the expense of family obligations, Sandler acted like a complete novice with this amazing tool.

In two instances in the film, Sandler shows he is able to manipulate others or surroundings while the remote has paused the rest of the world. The first, with his son tossing a ball at the neighbor kid, and the second, when he pauses time to slap his ungrateful boss silly. When unpaused, the boss has a massive headache, resulting from Sandler's assault. Yet, he doesn't use those tools when it comes time to work on his architecture plans, instead, sleepwalking through his family life, and hoping his "autopilot" self did a good job. While his drone does, why not simply pause time, take the attention and effort needed on the documents, and then unpause, with work done, to enjoy the family? When tired, why not pause time and take a nap? When he gains weight, why not pause time, go exercise and drop the extra poundage? He certainly didn't use his universal remote to the best of its ability.

As children, we were much more inventive, and likely better prepared for the advent of the time stopper than was Sandler. While we didn't ask for the fast forward and rewind buttons common on most remotes, all we really needed was the ability to stop time - though I admit a great deal of the activities we had imagined during paused time were either immoral or illegal.

With a time stopper, you could shoplift at will and never be caught on camera, you could sleep as long as you needed, or procrastinate as long as possible before writing papers and doing assignments in "no time". You could manipulate (or assault) others without concern of retribution. The concept that you would be rushed would go away. Demands of work vs. home would be greatly diminished, and if you were aching for a promotion at the office, you could accomplish more than anybody else, in less time. You would be the dream employee.

So where Adam Sandler struggled as a father and eventually lost his wife thanks to his universal remote, he deserved to - not so much because he was a bad guy, but because he didn't properly use this amazing gift available.