PixelsOfficialPosterColumbia Pictures
2015
PG-13

“Don’t tell anybody I killed a Smurf.”

When aliens intercept video feeds of classic arcade games and misinterpret them as a declaration of war, they attack Earth, using the games as models. Knowing that he must employ a similar strategy, President Will Cooper recruits his childhood pal, former video game champ and home theater installer Sam Brenner, to lead a team of old-school arcade players and a military specialist to save the planet.

Pixels is yet another movie that I initially had no intention of watching in the theater. As a matter of fact, by merely hearing about the plot synopsis from the round table discussion with the Coven of Exalted Geeks, I figured I could live without not only watching Pixels in the theater and waiting for the streaming on Netflix some time in the future, but also not wanting to see the trailer on YouTube any time soon. I got all the information I needed: this was a live action Futurama episode staring Adam Sandler and Kevin James, two names that pretty much guarantee I’m going to avoid watching the movie. Nothing against the actors personally, I just have never found the majority of the movies they make terribly amusing. I made my decision to pass on this movie, and that was that.

What they didn’t tell me was that Pixels also co-starred Peter Dinklage. More to the point: Peter Dinklage in a mullet. I was pretty much honor bound to watch this when it came out after discovering this by being forced to sit through the trailer on YouTube while waiting for whatever it was I was there to watch in the first place. Point is, I decided to actually watch the movie on the big screen when it came out, with the caveat that it would have to be a lower-price time (like a matinée or an early bird morning price, like I’ve been doing as of recent), or be patient enough to wait for it to land on the second-run El Cheepo theater. I went with the Early Bird one, in case you were morbidly curious.

As to whether or not Pixels was going to be a sub-par movie was never really in question. It was, after all, a Happy Madison movie; the only question was really going to be, what level of bad are we talking about? Entertainingly bad, or claw-your-eyes-out, make-the-hurting-STOP kind of bad? We’ve seen both from Sandler’s company, really. I was prepared for anything, though the preliminary reviews and tweets have been of the lambasting side, thus I was leaning more towards preparing for the worst. At least it was in one of those fancy-schmancy theater rooms made up with the La-Z-Boy seats, so if worse came to worse, I could at least kick back and take a nap. Like I more or less almost did with Annabelle.

Really, though, I found Pixels wasn’t really that bad. At least, I didn’t find it to be an unwatchable sack of do-do that a majority of online complainers are proclaiming it to be. Maybe it’s because I remain for the most part ambivalent about Adam Sandler’s movies, I don’t know. I just thought I’d actually watch the movie before deciding I despised it. Or, you know, didn’t despise it as much. Or whatever the opposite of despise is, I can’t seem to remember.

Pixels is what the posters allude to it being: a big, dumb, fun sci-fi action comedy that doesn’t pretend to be more than just that. And for the most part, the action scenes are the real reason to go see this movie. I mean, for this 80s kid who remembers these arcade games from that era, watching giant versions of these video game characters run amok and destroy cities was enough to coax a big goofy grin out of me. Allegedly. It was dark in the theater, no one had proof that this actually happened, no one can prove anything.

The problem here, lies (if you would consider it a problem) in the fact that, while you’re waiting for the action scenes to happen, you’re still stuck watching a very formulaic Adam Sandler movie. You got Adam Sandler playing another underdog character, Kevin James as the earnestly lovable but inevitably goofy friend (who also happens to be the President of the U. S. of A.), the love interest who is way out of Sandler’s character’s league that finds him abrasive at first but then by the end of the movie inevitably hooks up with him anyway, said love interest’s son whom bonds instantly with Sandler’s character, and the way more interesting antagonist who shows up and chews the scenery with the aplomb of a famished Great White shark. Okay, there’s also a side character who…I don’t know if he was trying to go for Chris Farley mannerisms, or if he was told “play your character like how Chris Farley would have”, but he came off as one of those annoying people you don’t know if you want to smack and shout “NO! STOP!”, or buy him an ice cream out of pity. Fortunately, though, the non-action scenes aren’t as annoying as they could have been…just more-so with the later character discussed.

Overall, I would rate Pixels as entertaining enough to watch. I enjoyed it for what it was, and even had a bit of fun pedantically pointing out the 80s pop culture mess-ups (they’re there…anybody from my era will see them). Pixels rates as a Wait For The Rental, or at least a stream on NetFlix in the future. If you must see it in the theaters, as I admit it was great to see the showdowns on the big screen, shoot for matinée pricing, or a second-run theater. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to find the Pac Man emulator for Linux…got me a jonesing…

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