Is Pixels that rarest of things, a decent Adam Sandler movie?
From director Chris Columbus comes this year’s most underrated film.Pixels stars Adam Sandler, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin James, Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage. Yes the movie is outlandish but it’s also a fun family film. It manages that rare trick of catering for both children and their parents, and it’s entertaining to watch even if you’re not a child of the ‘80s. Set in Washington, D.C., Pixels follows two grown-up ‘80s arcade geeks: Cooper (James) who is now ‘Mr President’ (yes, that president) and Brenner (Sandler) who is somewhat disappointingly installing audio/visual hardware in a prison-like jumpsuit.The unlikely pair have both hit something of a lull in their middle-aged lives, when aliens invade Earth in the form of old arcade game characters comprised of digital cubes (hence ‘Pixels’). Reinforcement from the pair’s past come in the forms of Eddie (Dinklage) and Ludlow (Gad), two more red-hot gamers from the dawn of the video game. Lt Colonel Violet (Michelle Monaghan) organises this unlikely team as part of the NSA and plays Brenner’s love interest. Significant supporting names, Sean Bean and Brian Cox round out the film’s billing and add a bit of extra heft to the cast.
It must be asked, how did this film get so poorly rated? Sandler has certainly been in hot water lately, but even that can’t attribute for the distinctly awful ratings Pixels has received. True, a few lines here and there are a little cheesy, Peter Dinklage’s accent is a strange hybrid of 1980s mid-Atlantic, and the occasional joke falls flat.
However the film is full of humour (not high-brow, but is anyone expecting that with Sandler?), chock-full of high-end special effects, and rocking those classic tunes that are sure to set your feet tapping. And every moment with Olaf is worth it, even if not every line is spot on. Also, let’s not forget Brian Cox and Sean Bean holding each other, awaiting the end of the world. That shot alone might be worth seeing the film in and of itself. So seriously... why the hate?
It’s an hour and forty-five minutes of classic fun, just as long as you can suspend your disbelief for the running time.
A not-so-serious commentary on today’s gaming culture, Pixels seeks nostalgia for the past while accepting the future of the gaming world. Alright, so no one was actually thinking that much into the cultural ramifications of the film, but it could be said correlations are there. The bottom line? Classics are classics for a reason. They’re the originals. Pixels plays off this theme, hoping to entice and educate the younger crowd while really nudging the older crowd suggesting, “You know it was better in our day.”
As films go, Pixels is another Sandler movie. It’s been criticised for low-brow, knockabout humour, but I think that’s precisely its charm. The film isn’t trashy, isn’t demeaning, and it isn’t heavy. It’s an hour and forty-five minutes of classic fun, just as long as you can suspend your disbelief for the running time. Narratively, it exposits and unfolds in a timely fashion, and there’s little confusion as to what’s going on, even if the plot is a little childish. Ultimately, a film is more than it’s story, it’s the sum of its parts, and Pixels has a number of great parts working for it.
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