When I was a lad, the term “Adam Sandler movie” was a good thing. As I graduated out of high school though, I also began to wonder if I was graduating out of Adam Sandler movies. They just didn’t have the zing they used to. Then there was Punch Drunk Love, the only movie I’ve ever walked out of. Then it became a roller coaster, where every time I was ready to call it quits he redeemed himself. For every Jack And Jill there was a That’s My Boy. When Pixels was announced I thought it was a great idea, then I saw Sandler attached and I began to wonder. Would this be an Adam Sandler movie or just a movie with Adam Sandler in it?
It was written by his long time writing collaborator Tim Herlihy. Eh. Co-starring Kevin James. Ehhhh… Adam Sandler movie. Directed by Chris Columbus (Mrs. Doubtfire, Home Alone) though, an interesting choice. I’m not going to lie, I basically gave this a chance because the scene where Professor Iwatani talks to Pac-Man in the trailer made me laugh every time. I’m glad I did though.
I cannot overstate how funny this is.
Adapted from an animated French short film about 80′s video game characters attacking Earth, Pixels turned out to be a delightful romp through nostalgia that almost seemed reminiscent of Ghostbusters (And not just because Dan Aykroyd and his signature Crystal Skull vodka appeared). Sandler plays Sam Brenner, a video game child prodigy who has grown up never quite getting over his loss at the 1982 World Video Game Championship (Compounding this is the fact that his childhood best friend has become the President). Footage of the video game championship was sent deep into outer space where it was found by an alien race who interpreted it as a declaration of war. Now Brenner may be one of the only people qualified to defend us along with fellow champions Ludlow Lamonsoff and Eddie “Fire Blaster” Plant, his archrival from childhood. Along with finding a new purpose in life, Brenner could also reignite his love life. After a chance encounter introduces him to Violet Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan- M:I-3, Due Date) and her son Matty, he’s fighting for more than just the world.
That man is playing Galaga. Thought we wouldn’t notice… but we did
I really don’t have many complaints for this flick. It was so campy and over the top that I was able to sit back and not pick it apart like I normally do. My only major complaint was that almost everything involving Kevin James was off. Not his fault either, a lot of it was just weird and out of place. His performance was OK though. Sandler is mostly on point in this film. I dug his portrayal as a tough nerd. Decent chemistry with him and Monaghan. The real star of the movie is Josh Gad (Frozen and the original Elder Cunningham in Book of Mormon) though.
“I wonder if Sean Penn is happy…”
I cannot recall seeing a film where someone played a weirdo so believably. If I hadn’t already seen Gad in a few things I would have assumed that is how he really is. His performance as Ludlow “The Wonder Kid” Lamonsoff is a thing to behold. Wildly vacillating between shy and aggressively assertive, he’s able to put complex layers into a character that could have just been silly. His timing is perfect and his nuanced expressions fully absorb you into whatever he’s doing. Whereas a lot of performers would really ham up some of the really over the top stuff, Gad just brisks right through it as if nothing is out of the ordinary. It’s fantastic. And just when you start to grow accustomed to how truly great he is, Peter fucking Dinklage (Game of Thrones, Days Of Future Past) shows up and starts doing the opposite but in a way that works really well. Dinklage owns being silly in the most serious way. He struts around like a drag queen and delivers dialogue like it was something clever he thought of and wrote down to use in a later conversation. He is that friend you have that never holds a mirror up to themselves to see flaws. The two of them together are glorious.
How glorious? This glorious!
Another great bit of acting is turned in by Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, Fellowship Of The Ring) and Brian Cox (Supertroopers, X-Men 2). Both played their roles as high ranking military leaders straight which lends itself to many laughs against the backdrop of peculiarity. The visual effects are good too so I’d think about shelling out the extra dough for the 3D. All in all, I went in expecting a stinker and came out pleasantly surprised. It was a fun little movie that made me laugh, the kind of flick that you could take your kids to and both get a kick out of. Plus it had Max Headroom. If you’re really strapped for cash wait for a rental, but if you’ve some extra couch coinage laying around and you need a couple laughs give it a shot. B-
“Billy Madison is on!”
T-Bagz is starting to believe he’s been too hard on Adam Sandler