DIRECTOR: Chris Columbus
SCREENPLAY: Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling
STARRING: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Monaghan, Brian Cox, Ashley Benson, and Jane Krakowski
RUNNING TIME: 105 mins
Reviewed by Abbas Daya
Pixels opens in 1982 with young teens Sam Brenner, William Cooper and eight year old Ludlow Lamonsoff entering a classic arcade games competition (Pac Man, Donkey Kong and the like). Brenner and Lamonsoff are the demons with a joystick with Brenner being a genius at classical arcade games. In the final face off he is pitted against the brash Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage) and comes a sore second. Before Brenner and Plant clash, the games’ organiser announces that footage of the games will be placed in a capsule and sent out into space for the edification of any ETs.
Fast forward to the present day and Cooper (James) is the President of the US of A, Lamonsoff (Gad) is paranoid-obsessive-conspiracy nut with zero social skills and Brenner (Sandler) is a high tech gadget installer.
While installing electrical goods for a client, Brenner meets and falls for divorcée Lieutenant Colonel Violet van Patten (Monaghan) but she doesn’t reciprocate, finding an electrical installer beneath her social standing.
Aliens then attack the earth in the form of classical arcade characters (yep, they found the capsule and interpreted the classical arcade games as a military challenge and have responded in kind) and it is up to our heroes, with the help of Violet van Patten, to duff up the aliens using their superlative arcade gaming skills.
So what’s to like about the film?
Not much. Honestly. It really is awful. The actors try but just don’t cut it. The gags aren’t funny and the story is simplistic and devoid of any real tension or drama. In short, it’s not engaging in any way. To be fair, there are a few chuckleworthy moments and Brian Cox (Admiral Porter, the President’s senior military advisor) is always top notch, even when he’s hamming it, but overall it is simply watery porridge, not rich and heartening fare.
Watch this film if you’re a Dinklage or Sanders fan. On second thoughts – don’t. Take the kids to the park, even if it’s raining, you’ll have more fun and then use the money, you would’ve wasted on this film, to take the kids out for a real treat.