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.
I like many of Adam Sandler’s earlier movies with “Happy Gilmore” being my favorite. As his films, and indeed his career began to flourish, I realized that he was prone to sleepwalking through some of his roles. Every now and again he’d prove to the world that he could turn in a really great performance in such movies as “Punch-Drunk Love,” “Reign Over Me” and “Men, Women & Children” but then just as quickly, he’d turn right around and tarnish them with unforgettable dreck like “Jack and Jill,” “That’s My Boy” and “Grown Ups 2.” Thankfully, with “Pixels,” we get Sandler playing the straight man as opposed to some of his previous exaggerated imbeciles.
In “Pixels,” Sandler plays Sam Brenner, a TV repairman who gets called to the White House on behalf of President Will Cooper (Kevin James), best friends since they were kids. Cooper shows Brenner some classified security footage of Andersen Air Force Base in Guam under attack from an unidentified adversary when he is called into the situation room to brief his cabinet. Unable to figure out what is going on, Brenner leaves the White House and he encounters Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad), another old friend from his childhood who is a conspiracy theorist. He takes him to his apartment and proceeds to tell Brenner about his knowledge of the attack on Guam.
After much conspiracy ramblings, he reminds him that back in 1982, when all three of them were champion arcade game players, NASA launched into space, a time capsule. It contained films, music and images, defining our culture at that time, in the hopes that extraterrestrial life would one day discover it and ultimately, gain an understanding of earth and mankind and establish peaceful communications with us. Instead of harmonious correspondence, the aliens misinterpret the video footage of some of the old classic arcade games such as Pac-Man, Centipede and Donkey Kong, as a confirmation of war and begin sending down their troops, cleverly converted into said game characters.
Now it is up to Sam, Will and Ludlow, along with the assistance of Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage), a former high-school video game nemesis and the beautiful Lieutenant Colonel Violet van Patten (Michelle Monaghan), to stop the alien invaders and beat them using their knowledge of the classic video games they once excelled at and are now being attacked with. The special effects are top-notch and the interaction between the central characters is, at times, humorous, with a few moments of levity thrown in, just to remind the audience that it is not all fun and games (no pun intended). Brian Cox and Sean Bean appear, albeit briefly but are literally wasted in roles that could have been played by anyone.
Director Chris Columbus, who made “The Goonies” and the first two Harry Potter movies, seems to be all over the place, in terms of character and story development but at the end of the day, with a movie like “Pixels,” none of that really matters. Ultimately, the audience wants to see New York being chomped to pieces by Pac-Man or London being terrorized by huge Centipedes and by the time it is all over and done with, you just know that should the film make a lot of money for Sony Pictures, a sequel will undoubtedly be heading our way again in the very near future, thus allowing the filmmakers the opportunity to utilize even more classic arcade characters.
In theaters July 24th
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