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Review: Pixels

Pixels
07.24.2015
5 10
 

PLOT: After an alien race misinterprets a NASA space capsule containing video feeds of classic circa-1982 arcade games as a declaration of war, a former gamer (Adam Sandler) and his arcade-obsessed friends are all that stand between the earth and total destruction.

REVIEW: It can’t be denied, PIXELS is the best movie Adam Sandler’s done in a long time. Sadly, after a good decade of terrible movies (with the odd FUNNY PEOPLE or REIGN OVER ME thrown in), that sets the bar mighty low. Although it comes perilously close to being halfway decent at times, PIXELS is far from a good movie. That sad thing – and I never thought I’d say this about a Happy Madison production again – is that it could have been.

 

PIXELS is based on an intriguing short by filmmaker Patrick Jean, that reimagined classic 8-bit arcade characters like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong as towering GODZILLA-like beasts. While it’s a goofy premise, it’s still probably no harder to swallow than half the studio tent-pole movies out there and with a sharp script and a game cast this could have been a fun family fantasy and the start of a lucrative franchise. Instead, Adam Sandler and the Happy Madison crew got a hold of the short and turned it into what might be considered their last stab at big-screen respectability – which might have worked had they not put their own sophomoric spin on the material.

Anytime PIXELS manages to be halfway decent, a pratfall from Kevin James – who’s cast as the U.S president – or a lame one-liner from Sandler reminds you exactly of the kind of movie you’re watching. It doesn’t matter than the CGI used to create the 8-bit monsters is creative (and surprisingly well-served by 3D) or that Chris Columbus’ direction is often energetic. The good bits of PIXELS (and there are good bits) are no match for Sandler and company, who one could argue is giving their audience what they expect were it not for the fact that this audience is actually showing signs of (God forbid) growing up.

 

Sandler’s become an increasingly listless performer in his movies over the last few years. He no longer tries to be at least creatively dumb. He just sleepwalks through his films playing a kind of laid-back straight-man character, throwing off the occasional one-liner he might have stolen from Mad Magazine back when he was in Grade 5. Kevin James isn’t any better. James is almost tragically unfunny in movies like this and PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2, in that he seems desperate for laughs, taking unfunny pratfalls while making jokes about his girth. The fact that he’s playing the president doesn’t make him any funnier as he’s basically just playing Paul Blart in the White House, with no real innovations to his usual shtick.

Josh Gad, as Sandler and James’ childhood video game/conspiracy theory-obsessed pal doesn’t fare any better. He basically plays the Nick Swardson part (who’s reduced to a quick cameo) equating funny with loud, while making constant homo-erotic double-entendres that give Sandler a chance to work in a bit of casual homophobia. Yuk-yuk.

What’s so aggravating is that – again – there are elements that work. Michelle Monaghan is actually quite charming as Sandler’s requisite gorgeous love interest, an army officer tasked with helping Sandler and his pals take on the aliens. Brian Cox and Sean Bean are also very amusing sending-up their own usual tough guy personas, with Cox especially milking every laugh he can out of the stale script. And then there’s Peter Dinklage. Playing a former video game champ modeled on THE KING OF KONG’s Billy Mitchell, Dinklage bring creativity and a sense of fun to his part by giving the character amusing swagger and mannerisms that show more than anything just how decent this could have been with more actors like him in the leads. He gets the movie’s only legitimately good line when he introduces himself to the creator of Pac-Man by saying “I made your game my bitch.”

Typical for a Sandler vehicle, PIXELS is loaded with eighties nostalgia, but here it seems appropriate given the material. Columbus seems to have fun staging the 1982-prelude in an arcade, while allowing the aliens to communicate with earth by repurposing vintage eighties clips of MTV, Fantasy Island, Ronald Reagan and – best of all – a CGI Max Headroom with Matt Frewer re-voicing his old alter-ego.

Again though, any time this gets fun we get more horrible Happy Madison material, with lame-brained moments galore. An example of the caliber of comedy on hand is a bit when a chubby guy in the Oval Office desperately asks Sandler if “he’s the sandwich guy” despite them being in the midst of an alien invasion. The sad thing is, I bet Sandler and company don’t even think these idiotic jokes are funny – but rather simply expected of them at this point. Given the diminishing box office returns, this doesn’t appear to be so. In the end, PIXELS is far from the GHOSTBUSTERS-style comedy Sandler seemed to be aiming for (he even quotes the film saying “see you on the other side” and lassoed Dan Aykroyd into a cameo) but it could have been something like that – were it not for Sandler himself. Watch PIXELS and see a star who’s truly turned into his own worst enemy.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Source: JoBlo.com

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9:34PM on 07/27/2015
I want to see this just for Dinklage (and ok, Monaghan, she's sexy). Hope more people see just how annoying and overblown Gad is, he stinks.
I want to see this just for Dinklage (and ok, Monaghan, she's sexy). Hope more people see just how annoying and overblown Gad is, he stinks.
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8:26PM on 07/26/2015
this was on of the worst films ive ever seen. it was painful to sit through! in fact id rather fall down a flight of stairs a dozen times than sit through this again.
this was on of the worst films ive ever seen. it was painful to sit through! in fact id rather fall down a flight of stairs a dozen times than sit through this again.
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-1
7:38AM on 07/26/2015

Was Great and Funny

Sorry Mr Bumbray, maybe you expected a well writed and acted Drama movie hehehe, but this a Adam Sandler movie and the only think that I want its a Funny and popcorn movie, so If this I get from this dude, I can give at last a 7 or 8 if this have a great perfomance, never a 9 or 10, then to close this , take a break mr Bumbray and make reviews accord from you get it. This shit deserve a 7 because a Laugh a lot hahahaa.
Sorry Mr Bumbray, maybe you expected a well writed and acted Drama movie hehehe, but this a Adam Sandler movie and the only think that I want its a Funny and popcorn movie, so If this I get from this dude, I can give at last a 7 or 8 if this have a great perfomance, never a 9 or 10, then to close this , take a break mr Bumbray and make reviews accord from you get it. This shit deserve a 7 because a Laugh a lot hahahaa.
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10:23AM on 07/26/2015
Can't wait for martinphipps to go all grammar nazi on this one.
Can't wait for martinphipps to go all grammar nazi on this one.
+0
10:20PM on 07/25/2015

Decent film

Was it great? No. Was it bad? No.
If you wait for streaming redbox you wont have anything to regret. Go into the film in with the right frame of mind and you will enjoy you will enjoy yourself.
Cobbler was good as well - stream that.
Was it great? No. Was it bad? No.
If you wait for streaming redbox you wont have anything to regret. Go into the film in with the right frame of mind and you will enjoy you will enjoy yourself.
Cobbler was good as well - stream that.
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1:17AM on 07/25/2015
This always had Redbox written all over it, but that does not mean I won't enjoy it.
This always had Redbox written all over it, but that does not mean I won't enjoy it.
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11:44PM on 07/24/2015
I had no idea Brian Cox and Sean Bean were in this. Such a solid cast, minus the Happy Madison regulars.
I had no idea Brian Cox and Sean Bean were in this. Such a solid cast, minus the Happy Madison regulars.
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5:08PM on 07/24/2015
I will still see this movie, looks fun like me, this review still feels like an excuse to hate on Adam Sandler period. Had the movie not starred Adam Sandler or Kevin James, I am sure this would have had a much higher score. The problem with Sandler's movie now is that his audience has matured & his movies are all the same. I'm still a fan no matter what.
I will still see this movie, looks fun like me, this review still feels like an excuse to hate on Adam Sandler period. Had the movie not starred Adam Sandler or Kevin James, I am sure this would have had a much higher score. The problem with Sandler's movie now is that his audience has matured & his movies are all the same. I'm still a fan no matter what.
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4:06PM on 07/25/2015
Explain the consistent negative reviews from all other current reviewers then please. I've not seen a single positive review of this film and most reviews are extremely negative. Bad is BAD!
Explain the consistent negative reviews from all other current reviewers then please. I've not seen a single positive review of this film and most reviews are extremely negative. Bad is BAD!
10:28AM on 07/26/2015
Easiest response ever, it's now the cool thing to hate on Adam Sandler & the fans really turned on him big time. Go on other message boards especially IMDb's & you will read threads about well Adam Sandler is in this so it will suck or I won't see this because he is in it period. Like I said I'll still see it because I grew up on these video games & I dig the concept. I am also very much aware of the short film & the Futurama episode.
Easiest response ever, it's now the cool thing to hate on Adam Sandler & the fans really turned on him big time. Go on other message boards especially IMDb's & you will read threads about well Adam Sandler is in this so it will suck or I won't see this because he is in it period. Like I said I'll still see it because I grew up on these video games & I dig the concept. I am also very much aware of the short film & the Futurama episode.
11:19AM on 07/24/2015

I loved it!!!

Everyone needs to go watch The Cobbler. Then watch Pixels. I really think Pixels was the best movie Sandler has made since the 90s. It was funny, it felt like classic Sandler, Peter Dinklage was amazing and they really got their shit together and made the movie FUNNY. 5/10 is a low blow, it is easily a 7/10.
Everyone needs to go watch The Cobbler. Then watch Pixels. I really think Pixels was the best movie Sandler has made since the 90s. It was funny, it felt like classic Sandler, Peter Dinklage was amazing and they really got their shit together and made the movie FUNNY. 5/10 is a low blow, it is easily a 7/10.
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10:03AM on 07/24/2015

No masterpiece...

,,,but, personally, I thought the movie was fun. I will agree that Sandler's sort of ...lazy jokes derail it a little, but mostly just at the beginning before it really gets going. I had an enjoyable time and was able to shut my brain off for a couple hours and just be entertained. If you call it a Sandler film, it's one of his best in years, though he isn't anything special in it. The surrounding cast and the visual FX are great though.
,,,but, personally, I thought the movie was fun. I will agree that Sandler's sort of ...lazy jokes derail it a little, but mostly just at the beginning before it really gets going. I had an enjoyable time and was able to shut my brain off for a couple hours and just be entertained. If you call it a Sandler film, it's one of his best in years, though he isn't anything special in it. The surrounding cast and the visual FX are great though.
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6:57AM on 07/24/2015
I didn't expect much from the movie but might check it out for nostalgic sake.
I didn't expect much from the movie but might check it out for nostalgic sake.
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6:50AM on 07/24/2015
I really, really liked this...when it was an episode of Futurama
I really, really liked this...when it was an episode of Futurama
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11:20AM on 07/24/2015
It's just as creative as the Futurama episode. But don't know the movie, the guy who created the short is the one who stole the idea.
It's just as creative as the Futurama episode. But don't know the movie, the guy who created the short is the one who stole the idea.
-3
4:05AM on 07/24/2015

Sandler haters

That's my boy was CLASSIC Sandler, the kind of Sandler that back in the day you bandwagon jumpers would have blown and swallowed. Knock the guy for Jack and Jill but come on he's not christian bale
That's my boy was CLASSIC Sandler, the kind of Sandler that back in the day you bandwagon jumpers would have blown and swallowed. Knock the guy for Jack and Jill but come on he's not christian bale
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11:43AM on 07/24/2015
That's because Bale can actually act, and doesn't pick shit movies just so he can go on vacation to Africa, etc.
That's because Bale can actually act, and doesn't pick shit movies just so he can go on vacation to Africa, etc.
3:49AM on 07/24/2015
Click was a good movie. Jack and Jill, Grown Ups 2 and That's My Boy were completely unwatchable.
Click was a good movie. Jack and Jill, Grown Ups 2 and That's My Boy were completely unwatchable.
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+3
2:53AM on 07/24/2015
Another shitty, lazy, and unfunny Adam Sandler and Kevin James film. Barf!
Another shitty, lazy, and unfunny Adam Sandler and Kevin James film. Barf!
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2:37AM on 07/24/2015

Need a new reviewer.

Too be honest I don't agree with this reviewer on 90% of the films he reviews. We need a reviewer that isn't biased and doesn't give bad reviews just because it's not his type of movie.
Too be honest I don't agree with this reviewer on 90% of the films he reviews. We need a reviewer that isn't biased and doesn't give bad reviews just because it's not his type of movie.
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5:11PM on 07/24/2015
Amen to that & if he hates the movie he basically spoils it, seems like an errand boy for this site.
Amen to that & if he hates the movie he basically spoils it, seems like an errand boy for this site.
+0
1:49AM on 07/24/2015

Where you are Joblo?

We need joblo back here reviewing, the guy was 99% on the ball
-reader since 99
We need joblo back here reviewing, the guy was 99% on the ball
-reader since 99
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2:17AM on 07/24/2015
Thanks man! (sniff, sniff)
Thanks man! (sniff, sniff)
2:37AM on 07/24/2015
I agree. This guy sucks at being a reviewer.
I agree. This guy sucks at being a reviewer.
4:47AM on 07/24/2015
Why keep coming back then?
Why keep coming back then?
7:37AM on 07/24/2015
What the hell, guys? Chris's review is well written, and defends the Sandler-bashing by giving some cogent examples of how his crappy schtick interrupts the flow of the movie. I've been wanting to see Pixels, but avoiding going solely because it's an Adam Sandler movie. As far as I can tell, this review tells me exactly what I was expecting to hear.

Oh, and it's good to see Berge posting too...I second the call to see a few more reviews from the big cheese ;)
- reader since (f*** if I
What the hell, guys? Chris's review is well written, and defends the Sandler-bashing by giving some cogent examples of how his crappy schtick interrupts the flow of the movie. I've been wanting to see Pixels, but avoiding going solely because it's an Adam Sandler movie. As far as I can tell, this review tells me exactly what I was expecting to hear.

Oh, and it's good to see Berge posting too...I second the call to see a few more reviews from the big cheese ;)
- reader since (f*** if I can remember..."many years", I'll say)
10:42AM on 07/24/2015
Seconded!! I miss your reviews, man! - reader since 98
Seconded!! I miss your reviews, man! - reader since 98
3:04PM on 07/24/2015
I do miss Berge's reviews. but Chris Bumbray's good. He's personally my favorite writer on the site at the moment (Paul Shirey offers up an interesting perspective as well). I started checking out JoBlo in '04 because it as nice to have a bunch of fans who liked movies as much as I do putting their spin on stale movie news. There have been good writers, bad writers, and listless ones, but as long as there's one ore two serious cinephiles on the payroll, I'm good.
I do miss Berge's reviews. but Chris Bumbray's good. He's personally my favorite writer on the site at the moment (Paul Shirey offers up an interesting perspective as well). I started checking out JoBlo in '04 because it as nice to have a bunch of fans who liked movies as much as I do putting their spin on stale movie news. There have been good writers, bad writers, and listless ones, but as long as there's one ore two serious cinephiles on the payroll, I'm good.
3:11PM on 07/24/2015
We need to bring back the box office prediction contest from back in the day, that shit was da BOMB
We need to bring back the box office prediction contest from back in the day, that shit was da BOMB
-3
1:43AM on 07/24/2015

Give me a break

"A decade of flops" ???? Are you serious, cuz if so you are officialy the worst reviewer on this site. In the past decade Adam sandler starred in the longest yard, click, chuck and larry, you dont mess with the zohan(personal fave) bedtime stories, grown ups, just go with it, hotel transylvania and grown ups 2. Sure he's had some misfires, but who hasn't? This guy is right up their with Will Smith and Tom Cruise as a bonafide hit producer. I mean just go grab a pitchfork and join the rest of
"A decade of flops" ???? Are you serious, cuz if so you are officialy the worst reviewer on this site. In the past decade Adam sandler starred in the longest yard, click, chuck and larry, you dont mess with the zohan(personal fave) bedtime stories, grown ups, just go with it, hotel transylvania and grown ups 2. Sure he's had some misfires, but who hasn't? This guy is right up their with Will Smith and Tom Cruise as a bonafide hit producer. I mean just go grab a pitchfork and join the rest of the mob that hates on sandler, meanwhil I'll be in the back screaming to him always "You can dooo it!"
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2:07AM on 07/24/2015
I think by flops the reviewer meant creativity wise and how good (or in this example how bad) the movies were. Not how much money they ended up making.
I think by flops the reviewer meant creativity wise and how good (or in this example how bad) the movies were. Not how much money they ended up making.
5:14PM on 07/24/2015
He's the last of the generation of early 90's comedians thats still a viable comedy draw (jim carrey of course) and im really not a fan of the newer comedy coming out these days (especially seth rogen) so I hope this performs well (1.5 mil on thursday so its not looking good)
He's the last of the generation of early 90's comedians thats still a viable comedy draw (jim carrey of course) and im really not a fan of the newer comedy coming out these days (especially seth rogen) so I hope this performs well (1.5 mil on thursday so its not looking good)
5:14PM on 07/24/2015
He's the last of the generation of early 90's comedians thats still a viable comedy draw (jim carrey of course) and im really not a fan of the newer comedy coming out these days (especially seth rogen) so I hope this performs well (1.5 mil on thursday so its not looking good)
He's the last of the generation of early 90's comedians thats still a viable comedy draw (jim carrey of course) and im really not a fan of the newer comedy coming out these days (especially seth rogen) so I hope this performs well (1.5 mil on thursday so its not looking good)
1:40AM on 07/24/2015
Such a shame. Exactly what I was expecting (minus James as the prez--yeesh! I did not pick that up from the trailers). Patrick Jean's film is such a cute little novelty, I was horrified when I heard Happy Madison had bought the rights to it.
Such a shame. Exactly what I was expecting (minus James as the prez--yeesh! I did not pick that up from the trailers). Patrick Jean's film is such a cute little novelty, I was horrified when I heard Happy Madison had bought the rights to it.
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1:22AM on 07/24/2015
As expected
As expected
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