Pixels tells the story of Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), a hapless video game nerd who unwittingly attracts the affection of Violet Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan).
At the same time, Brenner, Patten, and their friends fight video game characters that have been brought to life. This may seem like an amazing premise to avid video game fans, but seeing Pac-Man on the big screen is not worth the money as Pixels is just another unfunny, clichéd, and lazily written film by Adam Sandler and his production company, Happy Madison.
Pixels is based on a short film of the same name about aliens receiving a time capsule from Earth containing several popular video games from the ‘80s. The aliens mistake it as a threat and send real life versions of those video games to attack earth.
I can look past the fact that Pixels took its plot directly from a Futurama episode. After all, the premise of my favorite movie of the summer, Inside Out, has been done before dozens of times. Pixels, however, does nothing new with its plot and instead tries to capitalize on every horrible film trope it can use.
[one_third]Most of the cast have proven to be very talented actors, but none of that shows in Pixels.[/one_third]
The screenwriting is extremely mundane as the film often creates plot holes for the sake of telling a joke that doesn’t make any sense. The worst part is that the movie seems self-aware. When a scene doesn’t make sense, the characters act confused by it and proceed to shrug it off as something too difficult to explain. The writers know that none of it makes sense and they don’t seem to care.
One major problem of the film is the casting. Most of the cast have proven to be very talented actors, but none of that shows in Pixels. Kevin James plays President Will Cooper (yes, Paul Blart the Mall Cop is the President of the United States) but still plays the character as the clumsy best friend rather than a dignified world leader. Josh Gad plays Brenner’s loser and conspiracy theorist friend, Ludlow Lamonsoff, whose only purpose is to make Brenner look better. Gad’s comedic delivery is disappointing. Rather than whispering subtle jokes like his character Olaf from Frozen, he resorts to screaming at the top of his lungs to the point that it becomes annoying. Not even Peter Dinklage delivered a satisfying performance, which is unfortunate since he’s a fan-favorite actor on the popular HBO drama, Game of Thrones. Michelle Monaghan has virtually no character to work off of, so her performance is completely forgettable. The lead actor, Adam Sandler, really tries to be funny but his character comes off as annoying and immature instead.
However, the film isn’t devoid of good content. The special effects team did an amazing job bringing various nostalgic video game characters to life. There are a few moments in which the effects are poor, but overall they’re really fun. The opening scene is also exciting as it shows the cast as kids playing in an arcade. It’s still not funny, but the enthusiasm the kids have for gaming is engaging.
The video game aspect of the film is enjoyable, but as a comedy, Pixels does not hold up in any way. If you like video games from the ‘80s, Pixels is worth renting when it’s released on DVD or streaming, as long as you’re ready to fast-forward through the boring scenes. But if you’re looking for a comedic film with tons of laughs, Pixels is not for you.