Of course, calling Pixels one of Sandler’s better movies is like calling a particular strain of Ebola somewhat less horrifically painful; either way, it’s not pleasant. (Watch it on YouTube, and you’ll save yourself $9.25.) It’s cool to see favorite video-game characters – Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Q*bert and others – in “Pixels“, but disheartening to see they’re the smartest ones on the screen.
Sandler plays Sam Brennan, a video-game whiz kid introduced in a 1982 prologue with best friend Cooper, who inexplicably grows up to lead the free world.
Kevin James, who stars in the film as America’s president, commented: “I’m usually the big guy falling down on everything and really playing it over the top”. After all, the goal is to offer subscribers something they can’t get on Hulu or Amazon Prime. Aliens attack the Earth, using 1980s arcade games as their inspiration.
And because Sandler’s character and his pals studied the patterns of those old school games – they were the only ones who did, apparently – they are uniquely qualified to save the world.
By all accounts, this should be a rollicking and entertaining movie, yet Adam Sandler and company have somehow managed to squeeze all the fun and joy out of it.
However, the movie is consistently amusing and the eccentricities of the characters only add to the humor.
With a broadly humorous PG-13 tone, Pixels suggests a children’s film – but niche references to ’80s ephemera will hit with the Gen Xers. Sandler’s so lazy, a stunt double was hired to moonwalk for him in a two second scene.
There’s a brief glimmer of hope when Peter Dinklage finally shows up as another “80s videogame champ, who calls himself Fire Blaster and has to be talked into leaving prison to fight the aliens”. They’re like hyperactive toddlers who overdosed on sugar and caffeine before being set loose on the set with no script or direction. Michelle Monaghan seems like she’s there just so Sandler can get the girl at the end of the day. Originally he was supposed to direct it, but when the budget increased he handed the project over to Chris Columbus. But nothing else was worth a replay. Peter Dinklage’s character often makes it known that he desires to have a threesome in the White House’s Lincoln bedroom with Martha Stewart and Serena Williams.
This inane mash-up of “Revenge of the Nerds” and “Wreck-It Ralph” envisions former players, now grown up, drafted by the government to defeat the enemy at their own games (literally). Instead, this is a cheap cash in that only exists to line Adam Sandler’s pockets with more ill gotten gain in a further attempt to put one over on worldwide audiences.