Pixels-2

Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Monaghan, Bryan Cox and Sean Bean
Running time: 106 Minutes
Directed by: Chris Columbus
Year of release: 2015

Like most Adam Sandler joints of late, Pixels is getting kicked around like a Donald Trump piñata by the critics, and I can’t say as I blame them. But covering its awful qualities in detail – while certainly accurate and no doubt fun – disguises the single-minded simplicity of its badness. The more people rant about the countless little things, the more they disguise the one big thing that drives them all forward… and  sends discerning filmgoers into fits of homicidal rage.

This is a lazy fucking movie.

It isn’t just that it’s built on a colossal gimmick wrapped around nostalgia no one associated with it understands and which was cynically deployed for the sole purpose of inducing enough mild curiosity out of us to shell out ten bucks. It’s not that everyone involved looks bored out of their minds, or that even a bland and resolute studio director like Chris Columbus is far too good for the material. It’s not that it wastes the talents of Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage, who look like they made the movie  in response to some insidious form of blackmail. It’s not even that it’s sexist, racist and morally repugnant in that uniquely Adam Sandler way that makes you want to forswear humanity and go live in a yurt.

It’s that it clearly does not give one single solitary fuck if we care.

It doesn’t have a script so much as a parcel of high concept notes, hastily scribbled on cue cards and stapled together about a week before they started shooting. Nobody bothered with anything more, despite the fact that they probably could have mined some decent material out of it with a little work. Nobody could be bothered. Nor did they care to double-check any of the details of the 80s arcade games that supposedly brought us all into the theaters. So fans in the know will find themselves saying things like “they never used ray-guns in Joust” and “did these people ever play a game of Donkey Kong?!” And every time we hit them with those questions, the filmmakers just look right back at us, sneers on their faces and ask what we’re gonna do about it. So yeah, a little rage may be in order for this one.

Once again Sandler plays a lovable loser on the path to redemption, a child video game champion whose life ended the minute he finished second in the World Championships. (It’s about as creepy as a Little League team committing ritual suicide after losing the championship.) And yet despite working in a dead-end tech support job, he manages to stay best friends with the President (Kevin James), who he grew up with. Then the aliens attack, borrowing the icons from our 80s video games that we shot into space for some reason and challenging us to defeat them in formal combat lest the planet be destroyed. That brings Sandler back into action, along with his former rival (Dinklage) now in jail for computer fraud and his basement-dwelling sidekick (Gad) who’s graduated to full-bore conspiracy theories.

Beyond that and their supposed video game skills, I can’t say much about them. Motivations are vague, as are the ground rules, which the aliens seem to change out of sheer pique and which render the stakes in the contest completely irrelevant.  Not that anyone onscreen worries. They take time out for limp flirtations and fancy soirees while the generals fret about being shown up by these aging nerds whose only skill is playing Pac-Man and hey wait a minute aren’t ALIENS THREATENING TO DESTROY THE EARTH?! You’d think the fate of humanity would inspire at least some mild concern with these people, but the whole cast sometimes looks like they’ve been doped with sleeping pills.

That would explain the presence of so many actors who are clearly better than this – including Sean Bean and Brian Cox –though at least one of them could have made themselves interesting. The law of averages states as much. But it’s too much to ask from a movie that doesn’t believe in a single thing it presents to us, and who views its purpose as complete the minute it suckers us out of our cash.

And that really is the worst part. Pixels is a miserable, boring experience, but nothing about it couldn’t have been saved without a little more care and planning. Give the aliens a better sense of why they’re here, and why they use video game characters as their chosen weapons. Find a more clever way to play with those old arcade games in the real world. Give us a laugh – just one lousy laugh – or ask us not to accept Sandler as God’s gift to offensively supine women for yet another jaw-dropping film. If it had done any of these things, Pixels might have justified its existence. But no. Not because it can’t, but because it won’t . Naturally it will make a mint… and frankly I suppose that’s fitting. As tragedy segues to farce again and again in this surreal summer of 2015, it’s only fitting that the season’s worst movie would follow suit.

[review]

Our Score

By Rob Vaux

A Southern California native, Rob Vaux fell in love with the movies at an early age and has been a professional critic since the year 2000. His work has appeared on Flipside Movie Emporium, Mania.com, Collider.com and Filmcritic.com as well as the Sci-Fi Movie Page. He lives in the heart of surfer country and still defends the Star Wars prequels against all logic and sanity.

9 thought on “Pixels – Movie Review”
  1. Thank you for this review. This movie has to be one of the worst movies while also being the biggest missed opportunity for children of the seventies and eighties- or if they couldn’t pull that off -it could have at least been a decent movie for children, or anyone at all. The only sense I can make of this is picturing Sandler laughing As he’s giving the finger to his entire audience on purpose- that would be better than thinking that idiots like this make millions and waste millions everyday with this self-loathing spoiled two year old grown man crap. I mean Pac Man!? Arcades? fucking Tetris?! How could you fuck up something so simple (so simply loved) as completely as they fucked up this movie. Are people really this stupid? Thank you for this review. This movie has to be one of the worst movies while also being the biggest missed opportunity for children of the seventies and eighties- or if they couldn’t pull that off -it could have at least been a decent movie for children, or anyone at all. The only sense I can make of this is picturing Sandler laughing As he’s giving the finger to his entire audience on purpose- that would be better than thinking that idiots like this make millions and waste millions everyday with this self-loathing spoiled two year old grown man crap. I mean Pac Man!? Arcades? fucking Tetris?! How could you fuck up something so simple (so simply loved) as completely as they fucked up this movie. Are people really this stupid? I’m not even trying to be dramatic when I say that this side of humanity is terrifying in its insidious – self important – laziness . This is humanity emotionally stunted to be that of a two year old – I really feel like I have become “stupid-er” via mind rape by Adam Sandler.
    Your review sums up my feelings about this film completely – at least there are some with IQ points to spare.

  2. Ha ha ha. Yet again, another nasty, noisy hater critic who couldn’t pull a good movie out of his own arse. Stop wasting internet space with your bull.

  3. Doug have you only seen one movie this summer mate? Only thing that could explain your thoughts on what is simply an attempt by Hollywood to hook some dollars out of your back pocket. Juvenile, poorly written, morally cringable tripe served up to the lowest common denominator. No doubt it’ll make a packet from the Bogan hordes Downunder, I fear for the future of our society.

    FInal point “unfounded hate for Sandler”, haven’t you noticed he plays the same character badly in every movie he is in? Exhibit A for the definition of “one note actor”.

  4. I agree with Doug: Did you even see this movie? Such ranting, and not sure why you were expecting Citizen Kane from the likes of a Happy Madison production. It’s a movie about 80’s video game characters that “come to life”, attack Earth and stars Adam Sandler…duh! Your seething hatred of Adam Sandler comes through in every use of the word “fuck” as an exclamation point, which is often done by hacks who cannot get their point across in a more constructive manner. If you personally do not like Adam Sandler then you should leave the reviews to others (and the millions of fans) that appreciate his work.

  5. My 12-year-old daughter dragged me to go see it and she liked it a lot. So, to be honest, did the audience I saw it with. I don’t think it deserves zero stars, but the truth is that it could have done more with the concept. It is a wasted opportunity – in that sense Rob is right: the film-makers were lazy. But it’s not that awful really unless you really REALLY hate Adam Sandler.

  6. I have a hard time believing you even watched this movie. There was nothing lazy about it. The best movie I have seen this summer. The unfounded hate for Sandler is deplorable. This movie is full of great one liners and is full of nostalgia for those born in the 70’s. There is nothing not to like about this movie. I think your review was “lazy” and thoughtless.

    1. Doug, Pixels was horrible. What’s worse was that it was a wasted opportunity. The concept could have been developed into a wonderful sci-fi comedy in the vein of Ghostbusters. But instead Sandler and his cronies slacked their way through another film recycling the same jokes/characters from the last 10 films. It could have been so much better with people who actually cared. I’m begging for an immediate remake by people with talent who give a shit.

    2. You…you’re the only civilized person who actually enjoyed Pixels and agrees that it doesn’t deserve all the hate it gets. Thank you, I wish more people in this world were like you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.