Pixels (2015)

Game of Groans

Director: Chris Colombus
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Brian Cox, Ashley Benson, Jane Krakowski

Whether or not it's warranted, audiences have easily formed a connection between Adam Sandler starring in a film, and the subsequent films quality. His latest film contained an intriguing plot, a director whose proven himself multiple times before, and an assembled cast which contains great talent. Could this be the Sandler film which defies bad expectations?

The fuck it does!

When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic video games as declarations of war, they attack the Earth in the guise of video game characters. It's up to Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler) to utilise his classic video games knowledge to save the Earth from losing all of its lives.

Credit where it's due, Adam Sandlers adds a nice touch to his performance here. He manages to mirror the audiences reaction to him playing the same role for the umpteenth time, which is boredom. Taking into consideration the films basic plot, Kevin James playing the President of the United States is the most logic-defying aspect here. It would have helped if he could show qualities which helped his character get elected into office, rather than playing the generic buddy sidekick character.

The idea of Peter Dinklage bringing wit and likeability, which crafted an icon out of Tyrion Lannister, makes his character of Eddie Plant an enticing one. Unfortunately, that appears to be a goal less obtainable than him bringing the shows Dragons on-screen. Despite that, he remains more tolerable than Josh Gad. He loses all semblance of dignity in portraying Ludlow, the "nerd" stereotype which felt dated back in the 90s. His character's a virginal creep who lives in his Grandmothers basement, lusting after a video game character he's been obsessed with since he was a child. Have fun rooting for this character, kiddies.

That's no moon, that's a space invader.

The script chooses to let logic drown in a sea of stupidity, while throwing a life preserver to the inflation of Sandler's ego. As he becomes the only character that can perform the heroic deeds, the audience is left to wonder "Would somebody whose only experience is playing video games really be better in the field, than people who've undergone training in the field?" Apparently so. This is best present when he scores headshots galore on invading Centipede creatures, while an assortment of trained military soldiers fail to score even one.

What's most offensive is how much misogyny is put on screen, and deemed acceptable for the sake of story and laughs. Brenner expectations of Violet (Michelle Monaghan) is that she let herself go, due to being a recent divorcee, so is subsequently surprised by her good looks. When she later rebuffs an attempted kiss from him, Violet is labelled a snob from Brenner. It's astonishing this rampant sexism is used to Sandler's advantage, as though Violet should be sorry for not wanting a kiss from the installation man while she was drunk.

But that's far from the end of it. The films idea of women is they're trophies which must be won, rather than actual characters worth knowing. From Brennan's forced relationship with Violet that's regularly signposted, to Eddie Plant's wanted tryst with Serena Williams and Martha Stewart, it's as though this is a goal for each of the male leads. Ludlow comes off the worst here, as his relationship is a more horrific outcome than anything today's horror films can conjure.

Pixels is a lazy excuse for a film, utilizing the nostalgic value of classic characters as an attempt to cover up the horrible writing, bored performances and misogyny on play here. This film is not worth your hard earned coins. The most it's worth is a flaming bag of excrement, nailed to the front door of Adam Sandler. If you want to see the concept done justice, as the internet has noted, there's a Futurama episode which tackles this topic to MUCH better effect. (Anthology of Interest II, if you were wondering).