Click: Special effects of Adam Sandler’s unforgettable comedy
Special effects supervisor John Hartigan claims that although there are many challenges for his department when working on a Happy Madison project, it is always a great deal of fun. In one scene, a toy helicopter has to fly at Sandler’s character and hit him in the head. Hartigan had to figure out how to make that happen. “We decided to make the helicopter out of a very soft foam and then find a way to fly it toward Adam and smack him in the head. The best way to do that was to use a wire, so we could control the motion of the helicopter. It turned out to be a pretty funny visual gag.”
The special effects department used big cranes and big one-hundred-foot rain bars for a location shot outside a hospital set in Thousand Oaks. Hartigan and his crew brought in a couple of 300 ton cranes in order to rain across the entire expanse of the location. Another challenging scene for Hartigan was turning an entire city block in Glendale into an East Coast winter wonderland. Working all night and through the morning, Hartigan and his crew flocked all the trees and snow blanketed the streets and rooftops and added icicles to the eaves.
About 100 tons of real crushed ice were mashed and turned into real snow, some of it plowed into snow banks. “You have these 300-pound blocks of ice, 40-foot trailers and five tons of ice blocks and we use big blowers to shoot the snow 40 or 50 feet into the air. When it falls to the ground, we shoveled it and made it look like it was the product of a recent storm.”
For another scene, Hartigan and his special effects crew wired the character of Morty (Christopher Walken) in a “harness gag,” which is to magically transport him to the beyond. “We used the harness gag again when we get into green screen. We built a rig to travel along the floor and go up and down with Christopher and composited scenes in the background. We wanted Morty to look like he was floating and what he’s wearing was flowing. So we had to shoot him in green screen so that his clothes looked like they were floating down the street and chasing Michael (Sandler’s character).”
Special make-up effects designer Rick Baker was taking some time off to be with his kids when executive producer Barry Bernardi (with whom he’d worked on Haunted Mansion) called and asked him to read the script Click. “The script really touched me,” says Baker. “It was very much about appreciating the people around you while you have them.” Taking on Click was a real challenge for Baker, because “The hardest kind of make-up to pull off is realistic old age. Those are the kinds of things that fail most often.
It’s much easier to do an alien or some kind of monster because you don’t see that everyday. But you do see old people and the movie covers the whole course of a person’s life.” Sandler’s character must age from 17 to old age, and his parents (Henry Winkler and Julie Kavner) also move from young, middle age, to senior citizens. “We do this with a number of the characters who you see at different times and different ages. Fortunately, I have a great group of truly talented people I work with who’ve had a lot of experience doing these kind of movies on people who have to age,” says Baker.
The first step in the process was to collect photographs of all the characters he was working on. “We then take a life cast, from which we make a sculpture. We get video of them in motion and how their faces move and fold,” says Baker. “From where the folds are, we try to predict where the future sags and wrinkles are going to be when they age. We then make PhotoShop designs of what we think they should look like and give the actors several choices.”
“With a great beauty like Beckinsale,” Baker continues, “Even at her oldest, she is still beautiful. The change is subtle. But there’s definitely something there and she does look older.”
“One of the biggest challenges was Henry Winkler and Julie Kavner, who had to look older and younger at different times,” says Baker. “You see them when Adam’s character is born and we had to make them look like young parents again. So we took two different casts of them, one a normal life cast and one with lifts, for which we taped them up, almost like a surgical facelift.”
“The process was very uncomfortable for the actors because their skin was pulled tight around the neck and face,” he continues. “We actually glued the skin under their eyes to just under the eyelash line. Then we carefully made them up and they had wigs and hairpieces and such. I was pretty impressed with what we achieved. They definitely looked a heck of a lot younger. It was pretty dramatic. It’s too bad that Henry’s old and young scenes aren’t right next to each other. It’s a pretty amazing change.”