Pixels review

My obsessive animosity toward Adam Sandler’s movies all started when I was a child. Day after day at as a student at Bishop’s Peak Elementary School, I would listen to my classmates repeating out-of-context quotes like “t-t-t-today, junior” and laughing at the Hebrew words used and Jewish celebrities mentioned in Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song,” despite myself being the only Jewish person they knew. As I grew older, I learned that while some of Sandler’s films such as Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer are quite funny and that he has astonished with some of his dramatic roles such as those in Punch-Drunk Love and Reign Over Me, the vast majority of Sandler’s output are undisputed bombs. The man has talent, he just is too lazy and overpaid to use it more than once a decade anymore. The Onion’s A.V. Club has an recurring theory that Happy Madison films are nothing more than paid vacations for Sandler and his friends and family. If this is true, Pixels is a paid vacation to Washington, D.C., London, and meaningless nostalgia for the early 1980s.
Pixels is apparently set in an alternate universe where Obama lost the 2012 Presidential election to Will Cooper (Kevin James), an illiterate goofball and childhood friend of Sam Brenner (Sandler), a former Pac-Man prodigy who now works as a software installer. Brenner shares a series of awkward love-hate moments with a recently divorced client named Violet Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan), before discovering that she is a Lieutenant Colonel and, along with President Cooper, planning to attack alien life forms which have transformed into the designs of 1980s arcade games. The problem is, neither Van Patten nor Cooper have any video game knowledge, which is where Brenner’s once obsolete gaming skills come in.
Pixels’ cast is rounded out by stereotypical conspiracy theorist Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad) as well as Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage), Brenner’s former gaming rival whose mannerisms are styled after the antagonist of The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, a superior arcade gaming film in every regard. While children of the 1980s may enjoy cameo appearances by Max Headroom and a Smurf, even casual gamers may grimace at the lack of care and thought taken in replicating the designs of the games themselves; Donkey Kong and Mario/Jumpman both appear as villains while Q-Bert is inexplicably an obnoxious comic relief character in the ranks of Jar Jar Binks and Scrappy-Doo. Female characters besides Lt. Col. Van Patten are limited to a sexualized Xena-esque warrior (Ashley Benson) and cameos by Serena Williams and Martha Stewart who Lamonsoff and Plant disturbingly “win” in two of the film’s many cases of misogyny. Pixels shrugs off the reality that female gamers exist while reveling in its superficial and pathetic middle-aged male nerd-dom. With few laughs or clever ideas, Pixels joins the Super Mario Bros. and Pokemon films as one of the most pointless video gaming movies of all time. It’s like a broken arcade game that eats your quarter and your time.


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