When I first saw previews for this film, I thought it might be something new, fun, and entertaining. As the release date drew closer, and began to see more previews and longer trailers, I thought it might be just another one of Adam Sandler’s comedies.
I was wrong. It was worse. Watch the trailer below.
I gave it half a star based on the reason that I thought it was somewhat interesting concept and it did have some potential but just didn’t seem to go anywhere. For those that have not seen the film, there are some spoilers.
The film begins in the summer of 1982 where childhood friends Sam Brenner (Sandler) and Will Cooper (Kevin James) ride their bikes to the arcade and spend the day playing video games (as a lot of kids did back in those days). Time quickly moves and suddenly Sam and Will are in a video game tournament where they met the ‘Wonder Kid’ Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad) and quickly become friends. Sam makes it so far in the tournament that he faces off against another gamer, Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage), for the championship, where Brenner loses. Here we also get a cameo from Dan Aykroyd as the MC for the tournament and tells those in attendance that a collection of games will be sent to space. This sets the movie in motion. Flash forward 30 years and we learn that aliens have interpreted the video games as a declaration of war and have sent representations of those games, like Galaga, Centipede, and more, to destroy the Earth.
That seems like an interesting, fun concept where real life games attack the Earth in a sort of ‘war of the worlds’ battle. This is where the childhood gamers come into play. Cooper is now the U. S. President. Ludlow still lives with his grandmother in the basement. Brenner is an electronics/home entertainment technician. Plant is in jail but is released by orders of the president. They come together to train with the marines in order to help fight the impending video game invasion.
The film does have some moments. Like when Sam and Ludlow face several Marines in order to “train” them in video games and Ludlow is timid, but then all of the sudden turns into a drill instructor from hell. Or when Sam is talking to President Cooper’s cabinet about the pending invasion and references one of the members as ‘Harry Potter.’
Gad had, I believe, the most entertaining character. I did enjoy his performance. It was reminiscent of what he did on the FX summer show “The Comedians,” which apparently has been cancelled after only one season. I tend to like characters like that. If you haven’t seen the show, it might take some getting used to. Dinklage did have a somewhat interesting character and had some moments playing the cocky guy who thinks he will always get his way. The other characters just didn’t appear to have the steam to carry the movie. Even Sandler playing the underdog who has to overcome the inadequacies he thinks he has in order to be the hero and get the girl. In this case the girl is Lt. Col. Violet Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan).
One might enjoy all of the nostalgia of the ‘80s video games and the battle scenes where the gamers take on Centipede, Pac Man, Donkey Kong and a host of other video game characters, but it just isn’t enough to maintain the length of the movie at 106 minutes. The acting, for the most part, did not seem to sustain the characters for a feature length film. This seemed to be more of a sketch or a group of sketches tied together. This was originally a short film with the same name written by Patrick Jean. I believe the film is more suited to be short.
With its few comedic moments here and there, “Pixels” didn’t seem to get the picture. Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling wrote the film. It was directed by Chris Columbus and produced by Happy Madison Productions. It is rated PG-13.