Video games have come a long way since it’s mainstream debut in the 1980s. Being born in 1987, I wasn’t around long enough to see the classic arcade where games like Pac-Man, Q*bert, and Donkey Kong all created a new form of escapism for the youth. Most people weren’t too sure what direction these games would go in. No one knew whether they would evolve into something bigger or if they were a fifteen-minute fad. When companies like Nintendo and Sega brought the games home, it was set that these games were here to stay. When Sony and Microsoft connected these games to the Internet, it seemed that the whole world was playing!
In a way, most modern games have become like major motion pictures. I say this as a negative as while many games have long cutscenes that establish a full story, much of the action is with how well you can react and push a button rather then a true challenge. Exceptions include Minecraft and World of Warcraft as your poised to create a character and evolve him like most role-playing games or Modern Warfare and Mario Kart, which relies on playability between other players. A blast from the past puts the world on edge in the latest comedy, Pixels.
In 1982, young Sam and Will go to a video game championship where Sam does well as a Pac-Man champion, but looses on Donkey Kong from the egocentric Eddie Plant. The event was recorded and placed in a time capsule that was sent into space, hoping that I would reach intelligent life.
Cut to 2015 where Sam (played by Adam Sandler) is working as a home theater installer and Will (played by Kevin James) is now the president of the United States. Both seem board with their lives and hope for more.
Aliens attack an army base in Guam that seem to turn everything they touch into pixelated forms. The White House examines the creatures to see that they resemble the characters from Galaga. It seems that the aliens misinterpreted the video games as a declaration of war and are attacking the Earth using those games. Will calls Sam to discuss how to defeat these aliens with his arcade skill. They get Eddie (played by Peter Dinklage) out of jail to join the team to fight They go to London to fight Centipede and New York to fight Pac-Man, yet these aliens seem bent on destroying the world.
The idea of Pixels is a good one; a great one that could have been the blockbuster comedy that might have reached Ghostbusters levels. But the big problem starts right at the beginning; you see the Happy Madison Productions logo. This company seems to exist to only give comedian Adam Sandler as much work as possible while putting in as little effort for the comedy as possible. I was hoping that director Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, Harry Potter) might spark Sandler into stepping up his comedy. IT DOESN’T!
Adam Sandler not only plays the same obnoxious man-child he’s been playing for the past ten years, but looks depressed through out the entirety of Pixels. Kevin James adds little to nothing, Peter Dinklage is insultingly wasted (though he gets a few laughs), and the rest of the cast serves to buffer Sandler. Story wise, the pixelated charecters attack various cities, but I don’t recall one person being hurt. With that, Pixels doesn’t seem to care if the humans lived or died. Nothing is at stake and what’s gained are women which I find sexist. Worst of all, this is a family movie that is speaking to a kid audience who have no idea who Pac-man or Q*bert are. Why even go after the children when they could have gotten an easy adult audience?
I’ll give this one “Game Over” screen out of five. I’m declaring Game Over for Adam Sandler who doesn’t seem to care about genuine comedy or the usage of a funny idea for a movie. This is a game that’s not worth anyone’s quarters!