Pixels: Rated “Pg-13” (1 hours and 46 minutes)
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad
Directed by: Chris Columbus
Here’s the thing, Adam Sandler comedies tend to be either very funny, or Ghod-aweful. With his latest outing, Pixels, we are going with very fun, and yes, actually quite entertaining. Yeah, yeah, we know that there are some folks out there seem to have some sort of problem with this film (we haven’t actually read their specific comments as of this writing as we don’t want to color our own judgment), but we really did enjoy it. Perhaps this is because, while we were there at the dawn of the digital age (pong, Space Invaders, et. al.), and we truly did begin our writing career by reviewing videogames for Videogaming Illustrated and Ahoy! Magazine, we really weren’t a true arcader, yet still remember those games with a great deal of fondness. Needless to say, like Wreck-it Ralph, this film harken back to the dawn of videogaming.
The film starts out with youngsters Brenner (Sandler), Cooper (James), and Ludlow (Gad), along with Eddie (Dinklage) — who was already well on his way to being a tool — were all enthralled by the onset of arcade gamming and participated in a “Best Gamer” contest; which Eddie (calling himself The Fire Blaster Plant) won. Well, a video of the contest was taken and loaded aboard Voyager and sent out into the cosmos. Well, flash forward 30 years and now Brenner installs electronic equipment, Cooper is President of the United States, Ludlow is a raging conspiracy theorist, and Eddie is still a tool, but now in prison for hacking. However, as it turns out, a race of intergalactic aliens have apparently misinterpret the video-feeds of those classic arcade games that were sent out into space as a declaration of war against them, and have followed the trail back to Earth, and are now attacking Earth, using the games as models for their various assaults.
Calling upon his old ‘80s video game buddies, President Cooper taps Brenner, Ludlow, and yes, even Eddie to train and lead a team of soldiers to defeat the aliens and save the planet. As can be expected, what follows it profound silliness as this trio of aging arcade nerds defend the Earth from PAC-MAN, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Centipede, and Space Invaders. Okay, we get it, this isn’t high art (and yes, it really does kind of resemble an old Futurama episode), but that still doesn’t detract from the entertainment value of the film itself, and yeah, we did so enjoy the simplicity of those games. So if you like old-time, arcade-style gaming (and have a fondness of Adam Sandler comedies), then you’ll like this film.
Oh yeah, lest we forget, Dinklage’s role in this film is hilarious, as is a bit involving him Serena Williams, and Martha Stewart that is very nearly worth the price of admission.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web.