Running time: 106 min
Director: Chris Columbus
When Aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games and tv shows as a declaration of war and attack the planet using the games as models, President Cooper (Kevin James) has to call in a team of nerds to fight the likes of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. The team is led by his childhood best friend, Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad) and Eddie the Fire Blaster Plant (Peter Dinklage) and counts with the help of Lt. Col. Violet Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan).
I will start by admitting that this is not the worst movie we have seen Adam Sandler in. However, the bar is set quite low and his character in Pixels is the same kind of character we have seen him play in all of his latest movies. Sam Brenner is an immature man with no ambition in life, who never got over losing the finals in the arcade championships when he was 11 years-old. Instead of going to MIT, he settled for a job as a TV installer and now he needs to overcome that failure and his insecurities to save the world and get the girl. Worst of all is the revelation that those said failures weren’t actually his fault, so in the end he doesn’t have to do anything to prove that he deserves something better and there is absolutely no character growth.
We are supposed to believe that all of a sudden Violet falls in love with him, even though the chemistry between Sam and Violet is non-existent. Michelle Monaghan tries to do her best with what she is given, which is practically standing there with beautiful hairdos and be the romantic interest to the hero. Though she works for the military and is shown she can kick anyone’s ass, there is a need in the script to diminish her by making her hide in the closet to cry because her ex-husband is getting re-married. If truth be told, every single woman in this movie exists just to be a trophy that can be handled to the men at the end.
Around these two, Columbus has assembled a great supporting cast though in this movie is completely wasted. Kevin James as the President of the United States and Sam’s best friend is fine but doesn’t really have much to do. Josh Gad who is building quite a big fan base with his role as Olaf in Frozen and as LeFou in the upcoming live adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, spends practically the whole movie screaming. By far the best part is Peter Dinklage, who is the only one who bothers to do something different from his previous roles. Of course, there is also a lot of cameos to bring some very much-needed star power to the movie, such as Sean Bean, Brian Cox and Serena Williams.
The thing with Pixels is that it doesn’t know who its main audience is. This is clearly a kid’s movie but the references and the 80s nostalgia aim at adults, though the humour is so dumb it’s hard to believe it is trying to appeal to grown ups. In the end, Pixels had a cool concept, hurt by a lazy script and an awful execution, though the special effects are great. It basically succeeds in every aspect Adam Sandler wasn’t involved in. Pixels is dumb and as boring as watching someone else playing a video game.