A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: Chris Columbus
Produced By: Adam Sandler, Chris Columbus, Mark Radcliffe, Allen Covert
Written By: Tim Herlihy, Timothy Dowling
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Keeping with the theme of nostalgic celebration and adaptation of a clever and simplistic idea, Pixels is the yet another Adam Sandler picture to have severely missed the mark. Adapted from the lovely short film of the same name, Pixels is anything but a celebration of the popular arcade video games of yesteryear, more a shameless cash grab that embarrasses producers the world over about employing Sandler to helm yet another ‘comedy’.
A film that paid tribute to the classics of arcade gaming was 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph, an emotional, intelligent family feature that had three-dimension characters and a deep story to explore. The story of Pixels is as shallow as that residual puddle of water following a shower. It just stays there and serves further purpose than to irritate you until it’s evaporated, never to be seen again.
Pixels, like the sliver of used shower water is highly forgettable, however what is most infuriating is that you know another dirty puddle is just around the corner when you take your next shower.
Pixels sees Adam Sandler stepping out of his comfort zone to play an overgrown man-child…
His ‘character’ works for an electronics company and is regarded as one of the greatest arcade gamers of all time. Setting records here there and everywhere within the arcade gaming world back in his youthful days, Sandler’s character is living with the realisation that those intangible achievements don’t translate into anything of value in the real world. Conveniently best pals with the President of The United States (played by Kevin James, who’s highest honours involved being the King of Queens), they engage in some half-assed jibber jabber, as you do, until a devastating invasion of life-sized pixelated video game characters swarm down from the skies, destroying the city, one Tetris block, Donkey Kong barrel and Pac-Man gobble at a time.
It’s up to Sandler, President James, Donkey Kong king Peter Dinklage and Sandler’s love interest Michelle Monaghan to lead the front line and utilise their gaming skills in order to save the world.
Along for the ride is Josh Gad, whose comedic insightfulness has lead him to believe that yelling every line of dialogue is a sure-fire way to get more laughs…
To put it bluntly, this is a disastrous misfire of a film. The premise is cinematic gold, particularly as it appeals to all ages.
The nostalgic window of opportunity was capitalised upon not three years ago with tremendous success, so for Pixels to step in and so loudly go against everything the premise has presented to it on a silver platter, few words spring to mind quicker than ‘blasphemy’.
It is blasphemy that Adam Sandler can captain such a mighty ship of potential and produce yet another lazy, uninspired effort. It is blasphemy that Kevin James can seriously think that playing himself yet again will earn back the respect of his former sit-com self; not even mentioning the Presidential aspect of the story.
It’s blasphemy that this film was directed by Chris Columbus, the man that inspired and amazed and entire generation with the first two Harry Potter films, surely he knows better than to succumb to a Happy Madison project in this day and age.
Bland, derivative (in the worst possible way) and awkwardly unfunny, it misses the mark on several occasions, all the while confirming that the actors would much rather be somewhere else. With what seems to be the finale of the film coming around the halfway mark of the film (one can hope) and an end scene identical to that of 1998’s Billy Madison, it is clear that the production stages where painfully sloppy and that Sandler needs to stop and think about what he is doing.
Although some visual effects are satisfying at best, the structure of action sequences is bland and predictable, the script is beyond lazy and the all-round ridiculousness makes Entourage somewhat bearable by comparison.
Pixels was never going to join the pantheon of quality cinematic outings of 2015, however the chance to make something respectful, nostalgia-fuelled and fun was there, and Sandler squandered it.
These days it seems that insufficiency is the pass mark for Sandler and it’s a great shame. Pixels isn’t a new low when comparing some past atrocities, however the fact that he hasn’t learned and has flattened a sacred multi-generational property destined for great success is simply unforgivable.
Game over, Sandler.