“Pixels” was released in conventional 2D theaters, 3D, and IMAX 3D across the country starting today.
You should know that you’re in for something special and memorable when you go to an advanced screening for a film and it plays the trailer for said film not once or twice, but three times before the opening credits roll. “Pixels” was classy enough to over-plug itself to a theater packed with people already sitting and waiting to see it. This isn’t just overkill; this is a film that takes pride in injecting its audience full of misery and torment. “Pixels” had already given the audience the undying inclination to forcefully bite their lower lips in frustration to choke back yelling curse words at the screen and this was before the real anguish of the feature-film even began.
In 1982, a video game championship was held featuring all of the classic arcade games. NASA recorded the footage of the competition which was then sealed in a time capsule and launched into outer space in hopes of making peaceful contact with anything else that’s out there. Sam Brenner, a 13-year-old who could see the pattern in every video game, lost to Eddie Plant in the finals. Brenner’s life never really went anywhere after that.
In the present day, Brenner is in his mid-forties (and played by Adam Sandler) and works as a home theater installer. His best friend Will Cooper (Kevin James) is the incompetent President of the United States. Aliens received the time capsule that is now over thirty years old, but took its competitive nature as a declaration of war. Their attacks on the Earth are in the shape and formation of old video game characters such as Centipede, Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong. With the entire world at stake and armed with light cannons, Brenner leads a team of gamers along with Cooper, their conspiracy obsessed childhood friend Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad), and Brenner’s rival Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage).
Everything featured in “Pixels” has been done better before. It is essentially the live-action version of “Wreck-It Ralph” without any of its charm or creativity. The plot is predictable trash and Adam Sandler portrays an immature prick with a chip on his shoulder that acts like he’s better than everyone else when he never amounted to anything himself. Josh Gad continues his unfunny streak. The aliens are welcome to destroy the Earth if it means it’ll get Kevin James away from the presidency and it will be the one thing to finally silence Josh Gad’s irritating shrieking.
Despite being a film directed by Chris Columbus, “Pixels” stays true to the Adam Sandler formula with a bunch of cliche humor that is both predictable and the furthest thing from amusing along with a bunch of his friends tagging along to cram cameos down your throat in an attempt to clutch onto a decent paycheck one final time; Dan Aykroyd and Nick Swardson make brief appearances. You keep waiting for David Spade to show up and make you groan for eight minutes straight or Chris Farley’s digitized and pixelated yet bloated corpse to appear to remind you that he’s still dead.
That’s meant to be tasteless because “Pixels” knows it’s being undeniably awful to an excruciating extent at all times and yet it keeps throwing block after block of over produced video game nostalgia into your eyes and ears whether you’re anticipating it or not. And yet that nostalgia comes wrapped in this completely-violated-in-every-orafice-and-every-sense-of-the-word packaging that is not only difficult to stomach but nearly impossible to endure for nearly two hours.
“Pixels” is this bastardized and half-cocked conglomeration of “Wreck-It Ralph,” “The Watch,” and “Ghostbusters.” “Adventure Time” and “Regular Show” were able to tackle the subject and be much more entertaining in 11 minutes in the television episodes “Guardians of Sunshine” and “Just Set up the Chairs” than “Pixels” attempted to do in an hour and 45 minutes. “Pixels” takes a huge, smelly dump on both video games and film in general. The 8-bit ending credits are about as enjoyable as the film gets and even that is a carbon copy of “Wreck-It Ralph.”
If you have fond memories of playing arcade games as a kid, enjoy experiences where you don’t have to fight the urge to vomit, or don’t want to watch a bunch of grown men act like eight year olds only to pass it off as comedy, then stay far away from this force-fed, regurgitated, feces spewing, and absolutely atrocious excuse for a comedy.