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August 10, 2015
When was the last time Adam Sandler made a decent movie? My estimation would be at least a decade ago when he released 50 First Dates (and even that’s a bit of a push). He was once a bona fide box office draw puzzlingly capable of having his movies open in excess of $40 million dollars.
But with each awful release his popularity seems to be waning. When I first read the synopsis for Pixels my inner retro nerd got excited by the potential of a good computer game based movie. Unfortunately, graphics aside, this plays like an outdated video game: clunky and no fun.
Adam Sandler plays average joe (yes, again) Sam Brenner who despite being a prodigious gamer has since amounted to little more than a handyman. Seemingly destined for more, he is called on by his childhood best friend Will Cooper (Kevin James) – who somehow managed to become president of the United States – to save the world from an impending alien attack.
With a team of gaming nerds Eddie (Peter Dinklage), Ludow (Josh Gad) and obvious love-interest Violet (Michelle – please don’t ever cry in a closet again – Monaghan) Sam sets out to stop the likes of Pac Man from destroying planet earth and proving that he actually is a somebody and all he had to do was believe in himself (*sigh*).
I’ll start with the upside of Pixels. The last thirty minutes are pretty fun. A huge Space Invaders spaceship spews out a menagerie of computer game characters to pixelate the human race whilst Sam Brenner and co. take on Donkey Kong in the hope of putting an end to the destruction.
As a fan of tennis, I also have to admit that I appreciated the Serena Williams cameo. But you know you have a terrible film on your hands when the only person capable of raising a giggle is a professional athlete.
The list of negatives is somewhat more extensive; the biggest problem being that this comedy romp is just not funny.
Adam Sandler looks almost embarrassed as he trudges through the ‘script’. There is no wit, only puerile jokes that do little more than discriminate and pigeonhole.
Even more frustrating is seeing Peter Dinklage and Michelle Monaghan show none of the pedigree they brought respectively to Game of Thrones and True Detective. But what more could be expected of them in a film with so little meat on its bones? Pixels proves that even actors have the pressure of bills to pay!
There is also a distinct lack of direction. It’s supposed to be selling 80s nostalgia but it’s selling it to a generation of kids who weren’t even thought of in that decade. This makes it inaccessible for adults who were hoping to relive the days when computer games weren’t just first person shooters and for kids who have no idea what Galaga or Centipede are.
Pixels had the potential to be something more than just another meh Sandler movie but with Sandler himself footing the bill as executive producer, there was probably very little hope to begin with.
My advice, if you’re somehow forced to see this movie, is to make sure you are armed with a stiff drink. It really does help.
Pixels is released in UK cinemas on August 12th