Monday, 22 February 2016


Let’s just cut to the chase. You know exactly what you’re in for when you watch an Adam Sandler movie. In recent years, he’s given us a veritable feast of shit with films like Jack & Jill, Grown Ups, That’s My Boy and You Don’t Mess With The Zohan – and now with Netflix Original The Ridiculous 6 released, there’s clearly no end in sight. Pixels looked like it might be different. A stronger premise than his usual films and a bigger budget than normal looked like it might be enough to save it. It wasn’t. Pixels is every bit as bad as you probably expected.

Out now on DVD, Blu-Ray and Blu-Ray 3D, Pixels is a fun idea. The simple story is that after the human race sent videos of arcade game footage in a time capsule to space in 1982, aliens took this as a declaration of war. As they unleash hell on planet Earth in the form of these game’s characters – ie. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, etc. – it’s up to the ‘nerds’ of yesteryear to save the day with their immense knowledge of the games. This could make a great film with the right cast and script. Sadly, Pixels has neither.

We’ll start with the very brief positives of Pixels. The CGI is very strong. Each of the attack sequences are a delight for the eyes, particularly in 3D, with all of the alien game characters being made of many blocks to resemble the low-resolution pixels. While Disney’s Wreck-it Ralph opted to lose the 8-bit pixel aesthetic in favour of a smooth look, Pixels keeps the 80s ‘bad graphics’ and this gives it a certain nostalgic charm. The bright colours of these characters make for a colourgasmic final showdown on the streets of Washington DC – and to be fair, the action is pretty solid as well. I enjoyed these sequences on a nostalgic level too, and it felt fun and fresh seeing Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Centipede fuck shit up in the real world. But Pixels is supposedly a ‘comedy’. Funnily enough, the Blu-Ray of Pixels carries one critic quote on the cover, and that quote reads ‘Thrilling actions & stunning visuals!’. Just like in this review, that is the only nice thing you can say. You notice how there are no quotes on the cover to compliment the film’s ‘comedy’? That’s because the comedy is non-existent.

Outside of the CGI, Pixels is just terrible. Before we discuss how bad the ‘comedy’ is, there’s the issue of the cast. Adam Sandler is his usual self; the whiny, passive-aggressive twat who is refusing to accept he’s getting too old for these juvenile comedy films. Kevin James shows up to play the President of the United States – a premise that is probably even more unrealistic than the alien attack. Peter Dinklage is probably the highlight here, although you can’t help but be a little bit sad for him. He’s a multiple-award-winning actor, and everyone know you only accept a role in an Adam Sandler Movie if you need the money. Why else would you do this to your career? Poor guy. Josh Gad, the voice of Frozen’s Olaf, is even worse than Sandler – no surprise there, he’s one of the most annoying actors working today. Brian Cox and Sean Bean appear as straight-faced military men, who hold each other in fear during one of the alien attacks. They’re more likely giving each other an understanding “we’re both in this shit together” hug. On the plus side, Sean Bean doesn’t die in it! This calls for a celebration!

But as I said, the main problem with Pixels is the fact that it just isn’t funny. At all. I didn’t laugh, I didn’t smile, I didn’t even smirk. Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling’s screenplay is dripping with shit, the kind of shit that Sandler seems to think is hilarious. The comedy is mostly made up of sarcasm and insults from Sandler, screaming from Gad and the visual gag of Dinklage having a mullet. The jokes are extremely stale, childish and repetitive. The dialogue is abysmal, the characterisation poor and the narrative wholly predictable. Pixels brings nothing new to the Sandler table. It troubles me to think there’s still an audience for this.

Pixels looked like it might be more than just another Adam Sandler movie. I hoped it would be. But it’s not. Take away the premise and the visuals, and all you have left is Sandler with that daft look on his face, thinking he’s funny. This is just a thinly disguised Sandler flick that is trying to be something it’s not, thanks to a bigger budget than usual. Maybe if you’re still at the Adam Sandler Enjoyment Age (around 13), you’ll enjoy Pixels the same way you enjoyed Jack & Jill. But if you have self-respect, you won’t. Pixels stinks of one big missed opportunity, but ultimately I’m not surprised one bit that it’s awful. This is just a terrible attempt to re-do what Wreck-it Ralph did much better – create a big bowl of nostalgia in film form. Nobody wants Adam Sandler tainting their childhood, but Disney? Disney get a pass.

Pixels is a film you’ll want to rage quit. 1/5.


 Sam Love

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