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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Dan's Review: "Pixels" isn't worth one of your quarters

Jul 29, 2015 11:21PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Pixels - © 2015 Columbia/Sony

Pixels (Columbia)

Rated PG-13 for some language and suggestive comments.

Starring Adam Sandler, Anthony Ippolito, Kevin James, Jared Riley, Josh Gad, Jacob Shinder, Peter Dinklage, Andrew Bambridge, Michelle Monaghan, Matt Lintz, Brian Cox, Ashley Benson, Jane Krakowski, Denis Akiyama, Sean Bean, Affion Crockett, Dan Aykroyd, Lainie Kazan, Jackie Sandler, Jared Sandler, Tucker Smallwood, Sadie Sandler, Sunny Sandler, Daryl Hall, John Oates, Matt Frewer, Serena Williams, Martha Stewart, Dan Patrick, Robert Smigel, Steve Koren,  Toru Iwatani.

Written by Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling.

Directed by Chris Columbus.



There comes a time in every man’s (or woman’s) life when it’s time to let go of childish things and move on with adulthood. I’m not speaking of responsible adult behavior, but video games. Yes, I’m a video game junkie, and have been since my youth in the late 1970s and early 80s. I’m also slightly older than Adam Sandler, who stars in Pixels, recently released in theaters. I played Pac-Man, Defender, Donkey Kong, Centipede and Asteroids by pumping a small fortune in quarters into those arcade games during my youth. As I got older, those games became less appealing as gaming technology advanced. It would seem that Sander and Co. are having a more difficult time in letting go of the classics.

Sandler stars as Sam Brenner, a nerd installer working for a big-box technical gadget company. In his youth, Sam was a local video game champion, but he never lived up to his potential after failing in the national finals against Eddie Plant (played as an adult by Peter Dinklage). Sam’s boyhood pal Will Cooper (Kevin James) has done a lot better, and is president of the United States. Another boyhood pal Ludlow (played by Josh Gad as an adult) lives a strange existence as conspiracy theorist.  

When Sam is installing an entertainment system at the home of Lt. Col. Violet Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan) they learn that the world is being attacked by giant versions of Sam’s favorite classic video games, starting with Galaga. Drawing on his pal’s expertise, President Cooper allows Sam to gather his nerdy friends and lead the charge against the games, which are some sort of manifestation of an alien race that perceived a 1980s NASA probe as a hostile threat. Violet also happens to work on the president’s national security team.

Sam’s team takes down Centipede in London and Pac-Man in New York, but the aliens unleash havoc on Washington D.C. after realizing that Eddie has been using cheat codes. Sam must battle the aliens in a life-size version of Donkey Kong in order to save the world.

Pixels is one of the most pointless and ridiculous movies fronted by Adam Sandler in a long time, and that’s no small task. It’s incoherent, irrational, and downright frustrating, seemingly comprised of several poorly written gags strung together inside a movie that assaults the senses. The mindless and appalling story makes no sense whatsoever, leaving the audience wondering where the motivation for the protagonists comes from, let alone the aliens.

Did I mention that Kevin James is cast as the president of the United States? Yeah, Pixels makes about as much sense, not to mention the bizarre romance between Sandler and Monaghan’s characters.

Perhaps it’s time Sander grew up, because Pixels is a video game movie that isn’t worth one of your quarters. 

Pixels Trailer