"Some alien life force, has sent real life video game characters to attack us."
Adam Sandler… even that name sounds like a bad film by now. Every single idea that crosses his path seems to be destroyed and reduced to at least an hour and a half of lazily written jokes that sometimes take place in a nice shooting location of some kind, like a state park ‘(Grown Ups’) or Africa (‘Blended’). Now he’s done the same with this Chris Columbus project, with Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad. Until you add the name Sandler ‘Pixels sounds like what could be a fantastic summer blockbuster, instead it becomes, this.
After misinterpreting a human space probe, a race of aliens send autonomous versions of classic video game characters such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, to destroy the world. This means that humanity’s only hope of survival is a group of retro gamers.
Look, I wanted to like this film, I really did. But my god it is just awful. With this and ‘Fant4stic’ it’s been a pretty bad week for movies, not a good way to close the summer. Despite some impressive effects concerning the rendition of the video game characters (some genuinely good ones, the right mix of nostalgia and realistic CGI) at the heat of ‘Pixels’, it is just another Sandler film.
For a start can I just say this? Does anyone actually believe the notion that Adam Sandler can actually get together with Michelle Monaghan is one that immediately kills any movie’s sense of reality? Previously her on screen courters have included Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr and now Adam Sandler. That is just messed up. Also you have the role of president of the United States played by Kevin James who already had a flop this year with Mall Cop 2. None of these things are believable but the movie doesn’t seem to know it. Clearly we’re not supposed to be laughing at the idea of someone like Kevin James being a president, the film is blatantly unaware of how ridiculous its own premise is.
That may be a fatal flaw, classic comedies like ‘Ghostbusters’ relish in the stupidity of their concept, but ‘Pixels’ tries to treat the whole scenario as something that could really happen, and guess what? IT IS NOT FUNNY. Another thing that is not funny is Kevin James doing the exact same thing he’s done in every film he’s ever made. He’s a stupid fat guy that falls over while everyone else goes ‘Uh Oh’ to the camera, enough already.
Even the more talented cast members like Josh Gad are given little to do other than scream and react to whatever silly escapade Sandler and James are doing. Gad screams and waves his arms, that’s pretty much it. By far the best part of ‘Pixels’ was Peter Dinklage, but he only has a few lines and even then he’s shoved aside in favour of more of what everyone loves, uncomfortable romantic subplots and dialogue that is only funny to a five year old.
When you think about the style of humour the film has you realise that it is inherently flawed. Think about it, while most of this humour is intended to only be funny to children, the film is supposed to appeal through nostalgia towards the video games that none of the children are old enough to remember anyway. It’s little wonder that Sony have announced that they are reluctant to fund any of Sandler’s project.
While there are some decent effects everything else about ‘Pixels’ fails dismally. It may not be the worst Sandler film (though it does join the string of bad ones he’s had over the past five years, ‘Jack and Jill’, ‘That’s My Boy’, ‘Grown Ups 2’, ‘Blended’) but it may be something worse. At the end of the day ‘Pixels’ is simply a wasted chance, a good idea destroyed by one man.