‘Pixels’ is slightly better than most of Adam Sandler’s movies that came out after ‘Reign Over Me.’ It’s not quite as obnoxious as his efforts like ‘Blended,’ ‘Jack and Jill,’ or the turds known as the ‘Grown-Ups,’ movies. The vast majority of the jokes are very obviously meant to be jokes, but to the credit of director Chris Columbus, he doesn’t bring everything to a grinding halt for every joke. There are a couple of chuckles in the movie. And the special effects were pretty cool, but when even Peter Dinklage has an inability to be awesome something is wrong.
There is a certain sexism that has become typical of recent Sandler humor. Sandler’s character, Sam Brenner, works as an appliance store tec. He has to set up a TV system, for a lieutenant Colonel special weapons developer named Violet (whose husband recently left her for a 19 year old fitness instructor) and her young son. Violet (Michelle Monaghan) is introduced off screen as her son Matty (Matt Lintz, who is one of the better characters) explains to Sam the story of his father leaving his mother. Of course Sam, a man who has let himself go (Let’s face it, Sandler hasn’t aged as gracefully as his buddy Chris Rock, or even Kevin James; certainly not as well as other men his age like Robert Downey Jr and Keanu Reeves or men older like Denzel Washington, Harrison Ford or Patrick Stewart) assumes that a woman whose husband left her must have let herself go, it can’t possibly mean that the man is an idiot who lacks self control and has no morals. He is surprised to see that Violet is beautiful. Of course later when they have a heart to heart discussion, he tries to kiss her and she has the audacity to reject him it makes her a snob. It’s the 21st century and women can be friendly with men without wanting it to turn into romance. Someone should have told the writers of ‘Jurassic World’ and ‘Ant Man.’
There’s even another moment in the movie that is supposed to be funny where the homely President Will Cooper (Sam’s childhood best friend and the President of the United States who is played by the homely Kevin James and is married to the attractive First lady played by Jane Krakowski) is in a meeting with the British Prime Minister played by Fiona Shaw. She makes a comment that her husband made her a mug that said “World’s Sexiest Prime Minister” and James’ ‘nice guy’ character says “Well, he must see something the rest of the world doesn’t.” Ha-ha, look in the mirror.
There are a couple of interesting themes embedded in the movie like how misinterpretations and miscommunication can lead to mass hysteria. There’s even a moment with Sandler’s character has an old dog learning new tricks moment. The problem is that the delivery is strong enough for the points to really resonate. There are even a couple of laughs. Sean Bean, who plays a British Army officer has a great line about telling people in an area where an attack is about to take place that they’re shooting a beer commercial. There’s another moment where Josh Gad gives a speech is a group of Army recruits that goes horribly wrong. Ultimately, this movie feels like the studio was focused on making something that could play with the IMAX 3D bump, but didn’t worry too much about the story or the delivery. This movie could have been so much more fun and talented actors like Peter Dinklage could have been used much more effectively. At best, ‘Pixels’ is something to catch on TV or Netflix for people who are curious about it and have nothing better to do in a particular moment. Pixels opened nationwide for early screening July 23, and will probably continue playing around for a couple weeks.