Synopsis – When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games.
My Take – Like I had mentioned in my earlier review about Arnold Schwarzenegger (Read my take on Terminator Genisys here) being a star, the same goes for once upon a time ago A Lister Adam Sandler, but unlike other failing stars (well comparatively) Adam Sandler is at most blame here as he mainly produces & co writes almost every film he does! Film such as Jack & Jill, That’s my Boy & the Grown Ups have no reason to exist other than to prove a point how this once awesome comedian has gone down, well except for Blended which I feel was unfairly rejected! Now talking about this film, which is based on a brilliant conceptual short film by Patrick Jean, seems like the perfect film for redemption as we get to see Adam Sandler the actor after a long time! If you are an eighties or a nineties kid you have definitely grown up playing Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Centipede and other arcade games, until consoles such as Play Station came into picture. Seriously what would you do, if beloved characters from your favorites games come to life & are out to kill you! I know scary but wouldn’t that be awesome too? Luckily for us director Chris Columbus has turned this idea into a really light hearted CGI filled humorous film. Sure the jokes are not ‘laugh your heart out funny’, it does miss its mark quite some time, but but not enough for the film to not be good. The story follows best buds Sam Brenner & Will Cooper, while Sam proves to be a prodigy of the joystick and ball roller. Will, not so much, though he does seem to be quite adept at ‘The Claw’, a skill that will come in handy a few years down the road. Sam’s talents take them to a video game competition where they pick up a new bud, conspiracy-theorist-in-the-making Ludlow Lamonsoff, as well as a new nemesis, Eddie ‘The Fire Blaster’ Plant, a fellow gamer whose skills at the uprights are only surpassed by his extreme narcissism. The The entire video game competition was videotaped. The videotape, as announced by the emcee, will be sent into space by NASA in a capsule to alert possible alien life to our existence and culture. Many years later, Sam (Adam Sandler) has grown up to be divorced & installing home entertainment systems. While Will (Kevin James) is the President of U.S.A! A bit of a goofy one, but President nonetheless. While on a call, he meets Violet (Michelle Monaghan), a single mother whose marriage has recently fallen apart. In a funny and touching moment, the two find in each other a kindred spirit, though one of them wants to be a bit more kindred than the other. Before things can get too romantic or embarrassing (which will it be?) Sam receives a call from his old friend Will who tells him to get to The White House ASAP.
Upon his arrival, Will tells Sam that Guam was attacked by a powerful, unknown force. The attack was picked up by satellite and bears a strong resemblance to a game they enjoyed in their younger days. What follows is a series of events leading up to the realization that the videotape of the competition was, in fact, found by aliens and they misinterpreted it as a declaration of war. As the extraterrestrial onslaught begins, with the invaders taking on the guise of classic video game characters, Sam must step up and become the man he should have been, using his antiquated gamer talents to save the world. Along for the ride are Will, Violet, the recently resurfaced Ludlow (Josh Gad) who is more paranoid and manic than ever before, and old enemy Eddie (Peter Dinklage) who hasn’t changed a bit in the thirty-odd years since their last meeting. I gotta admit, I didn’t have the highest of hopes walking into this. I figured there was going to be a lot of mugging for the camera, funny voices, and pratfalls all mixed together in a sea of CGI. But boy was I surprised! The amount of nostalgia watching this characters come to life is immeasurable! The film overall has this great 80’s feel to it. It shot like an 80’s film and has the story of an 80’s film would have. Even has the classic 80’s score. Which all makes sense given the what the film is about. Thinking back on it, it’s basically “Ghostbusters” with aliens filling in for the ghosts, right down to Donkey Kong taking over for the Marshmallow Man. But for what this film lacks in originality, it more than makes up for it in heart and humor. There are moments between characters that are truly touching, and they are not being shoved down your throat. They come across more in words than in actions, in simple scenes where there is not much more going on than just two people sitting across from one another having a chat. Some of my favorites involve exchanges between Sam and Violet’s young son Matty (Matt Linz) as they bridge the generation gap between them through their mutual love of video games. This kid isn’t annoying or mean to our hero who so often pops up in these kinds of movies. He’s smart and soft-spoken, and I really enjoyed the bond that develops between him and the guy who has eyes for his mom. The same goes for Sandler and Kevin James. It should come as no surprise that they are friends in real life as there is an ease and naturalness to their interactions that really comes across here. They are truly best buds, even when they are taking the piss out of one another. Like I mentioned before, Adam Sandler has been on a downward spiral for some time now, but here he is really impressive! Instead of being the guy who passes on cringe worthy insults or just being obnoxious, he is more reserved & calm while keep it low & hilarious on the gags. Kevin James (who is usually annoying as hell) pulls off the President like no other! Other than playing on his usual fat jokes, his funnier moments appear in more real life circumstances.
Michelle Monaghan isn’t just some pretty face waiting in the wings to embrace the conquering hero. She’s a tough cookie herself, and plays an important role in the war against the space invaders. The scenes in which she and Sandler playing off one another are a delight. Josh Gad is on an upswing here! He has the best & most wackiest scenes of all! He is totally believable as a sympathetic lunatic. Even though Games of Thrones star Peter Dinklage is probably the best actor of the lot is kinda underwhelming here! His unrelenting self-obsession and need to mock others wears thin pretty quickly, and I kept hoping he would take a cue from his costars and dial it back a bit. Plus having the least screen time of the lot doesn’t help. Its awesome to see many familiar faces pop up here and there, including Sean Bean, Vanessa Williams, Dan Aykroyd and Brian Cox. Of course the film has its own set of flaws, especially in the second half where the film doesn’t stay as existing as it starts off, especially the rushed climax was a bit downer for me. Another fact which was running in my mind, while watching this film was – how would the younger audience (which the film is clearly aimed at) would connect with most of these characters whom possibly they would never had heard off! Well, I hope it doesn’t keep them away, as its director Chris Columbus like his previous movies like Home Alone & the 1st two installments of the Harry Potter film has given this film a heart. On the whole, ‘Pixels’, may seem like another family film which attempts to boost up its sales with the nostalgia effect, but is actually more than that! With a near perfect execution, good humor & interesting CGI, the film is treat! A good one time watch nostalgia delight! Welcome back Adam Sandler the actor!
Director – Chris Columbus
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 105 minutes