Four Letter Nerd

Pixels: Spoiler Free Movie Review

Thousands of hours of television and movie viewing over the course of a lifetime will undoubtedly be filled with hits and misses. There are movies that will bring grown macho guys like all of us here at 4LN to tears because of its awesomeness. And others (at least when they come through the mail from Netflix) get that immediate return to the mailbox. And when I say immediate, I mean out of the DVD player, back into the envelope, and I am out the door with it so I can put in the mail the very night I tried to watch it. Some movies have been so bad that I don’t even want them infesting the air of my living room longer than they have to.

But every once in awhile, that rare piece of entertainment comes along that, after it’s over, produces a collective “ehhh” from its audience. “Pixels,” the most recent from Adam Sandler, is such a picture. I mean, it’s exactly what you’d expect from Sandler (poor reviews from critics included), so you can’t complain about it too much. But just because it’s what you’d expect doesn’t make it good. “Pixels” is the very definition of the word average, with equal positive and negative qualities.

Critic whipping boy Adam Sandler takes his next shot in the movie “Pixels.”

“Pixels” is about a crew of former game geniuses who find their skills they possessed as kids unhelpful as adults. That is, until the world needs them to stop a series of attacks by classic arcade video game characters who were sent into outer space by the form of a time capsule. The alien race took the capsule as a challenge, and now the former gamers are needed to save the world.

The premise is genius. The idea of old video game characters coming back to haunt us in the future is a fantastic idea. And with a cast that includes Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad, and Tyrion Lan…I mean Peter Dinklage, of course there’s going to be some funny one liners.

Michelle Monaghan, Adam Sandler, Josh Gad, and Peter Dinklage in Pixels.

But for every clever one liner, there’s miles of cheesy clichés that should inspire plenty of frat house drinking games in the future. Kevin James plays the part of the president. I don’t need to say anything more about that. Peter Dinklage is an amazing actor and he still has his moments here. But the role is definitely limiting to someone of Dinklage’s caliber. And what should’ve been the strength of the movie (the classic video game characters) did not, in my opinion, appear near enough (at least not in the first half of the movie).

Pacman and Centipede, a couple of the video games who star in the movie “Pixels.”

But I would still say there is enough decent fun to make “Pixels” worth a one night rental from redbox, a view on Netflix (it’s likely destination with the deal the streaming service has with Adam Sandler), or a cable TV viewing. The numerous eighties references will be enough for some folks. There’s also an incredible lack of thinking required while viewing this film, which can be kind of nice. But for all of “Pixels” flaws, nothing about it is unexpected. If you walk into “Pixels” expecting something different than what Sandler always brings to his movies, that’s a you problem. Sandler is exactly what he’s been most every picture he’s done since “Mr. Deeds.” You either love or hate Adam Sandler. And as a guy who has grown up with and enjoyed his humor since his days on SNL, I found enough to make “Pixels” worth my viewing experience (not as a full price evening theater viewing, but as one of two films at a drive-in double feature). But if you don’t care for Sandler, then pass on “Pixels.”

 

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Jeff Merrick

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