About a year ago on this very site, I stated that I actually had a fondness for Adam Sandler, even though I have hated most of his movies. I even thought his two films from last year Blended and Men, Women and Children, were two of the most underrated movies not only of the year but of Sandlers entire catalog. I thought hey maybe we are turning a new page in the book of Sandler, just maybe the nearly 50 year old actor was going to show more of those acting chops he so finely displayed in Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece Punch Drunk Love.
I clearly thought wrong as with Pixels we are once again back to the dreadful, painfully unfunny, sophomoric antics, that Sandler has been saturating our screens with the last 20 years.
And this one is one of his very worst.
See there are bascially 7 levels of Sandler movie for me (well 8 with Punch Drunk Love (A+) but that was a one off thing). You have the first group which we will call the Barrymore Group, which is films he co-stars with Drew Barrymore and some how actually manage to be sweet and funny, this group includes The Wedding Singer (B), 50 First Dates (B) and Blended (B+).
The next group is the serious Sandler group, which is when Sandler actually stops the silly antics and makes a movie with a serious tone often with mixed results. Think Men Women and Children (B+), The Cobbler (N/A), Reign Over Me (C+), Funny People (C-) and Spanglish (C). The 3rd group is basically the inbetween group which is when Sandler is being Sandler but the movies are not altogether awful, films such as That’s My Boy (C-), You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (C+), The Longest Yard (D+), Anger Management (D+) and Happy Gilmore (B). Now don’t get me wrong these are not good films (well I have a soft spot for Gilmore) but they are not totally god awful like most of Sandlers work.
The 4th level is what I call the awful films everyone loves category, which is pretty much some of Sandler’s worst films that came out when my generation was younger and of course everyone still loves them, even though they are awful. These includes Billy Madison (D), The Waterboy (F), Big Daddy (D+) and Bullet Proof (C-). The 5th is what is known as the kiddie junk corner, which is basically Sandler making horrible movies for kids, this list includes Hotel Transylvania (D), Click (D+) and Bedtime Stories (D).
The 6th is the Sandler Friend trash category, which is when Sandler gets together with his band of goons (Rob Schneider, Kevin James etc.) and makes some seriously awful films which have included, Airheads (D), Grown Ups (D), Grown Ups 2 (D-), I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (D). The final stage of Sandler movie is known as the GO F#$% YOURSELF Sandler, stage which consists of his bottom of the barrel trash that he has made, god awful films like Jack and Jill (D-), Just Go With It (D-), Eight Crazy Nights (D-), Mr. Deeds (D-), Mixed Nuts (D-) and the absolute worst Little Nicky (F).
Pixels pretty much falls in the Friend Trash category but could just as easily be in the bottom of the barrel stage.
Pixels actually doesn’t have the absolute worst concept for a movie, I mean I could actually picture a funny movie being made about video games coming to life and causing havoc everywhere. However it is the way this movie just turns into another one of those typical Sandler trash-a-thons that completely ruins what is otherwise not a bad idea.
Sandler plays Brenner a grown man who was able to turn his nerdy ways from his youth into a full time job as a guy who will install all your TV, games and speaker system needs. When the movie starts we a young Brenner who is a master at arcade style video games, having figured out the patterns for most of the games including Pac-Man, Centipede, Space Invaders and Arkanoid. He enters a tournament were he makes it to the finals only to lose a game of Donkey Kong to world champing gamer Eddie (Peter Dinklage). This event ruins him and he pretty much gives up on the games.
Flash forward back to the present day were Brenner’s childhood best friend Cooper is now the President of the United States. One day after setting up a system for a young kid named Matty and his divorced mother Violet (Michelle Monaghan), he is confronted by his old childhood pal Ludlow (Josh Gad) who is hiding out in his van. Ludlow believes that an alien species, has recovered a recording of the 80’s Video Game tournament that Brenner was in and thinks its a declaration of War. So the alien have been attacking world land marks using the classic video game in pixeled form.
Of course it is up the Brenner and his video game expertise to save the day.
So we get to see the Aliens versions of Galaga, Arkanoid, Centipede, Pac-Man and finally Donkey Kong. The Aliens are treating it like a tournament and they communicate through old 80’s TV commercials and music videos. If the Aliens win the round they take a human trophy, however if they lose they give the humans a trophy which includes the Dog from Duck Hunt and Q’Bert.
All of that may seem interesting to you but I have to remind you that it is peppered with horrible unfunny jokes (Cooper and his wife have a private moment making cupcakes that somehow gets broadcast as news..HO HO!) really awful effects (I think they made it Pixels so they could try to get away with lazy effects), awful acting (Peter Dinklage is positively god awful in this film!), things just happening to be in place for the action need (oh you have mini cars that act like Ghosts from Pac-Man just ready to go in the city of the attack!) and an overload of cheesy 80’s references (Madonna is one of the Alien voice). Trust me when I tell you, it all wears thin really fast!
An interesting fact to note, considering I am writing for Hamilton Today, is that Pixels was actually filmed in Hamilton some time in 2014. You can actually see some of Hamilton in all its glory in a few shots, which was kinda cool, till I remembered that this was a piece of trash of a film.
Pixels is truly one of Sandler’s all time worst films. Sandler himself is actually not completely awful in the film but just about everyone else is. The idea of old video games being made in to movies was actually done very well recently with Disney’s great Wreck-It-Ralph, a film I would recommend over this for both adults and children.
Pixels is the kind of joke that if it was made by a lesser star it would straight to video. Sandler it’s time to leave the past beyond you and do something truly meaningful. I think with the latest box office turn outs of your films you can see that everyone is getting tired of the same old, same old trash.