Adam Sandler, Josh Gad and Q-Bert are shocked by arcade game mayhem in Pixels.

Adam Sandler, Josh Gad and Q-Bert are shocked by arcade game mayhem in Pixels.

Reel Reviews: Pac-Man lives but not for long

In 1982, Brenner (Adam Sandler) and his team of video game whizz kids, Cooper (Kevin James) and Ludlow (Josh Gad) made it to the video game national championship, but lost to Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage). As part of the championship celebrations, a special film was produced about video games and that year’s contest. That film was subsequently launched into space by NASA.

More than 30 years later, Brenner works for Nerd Corps installing technology, Ludlow is a paranoid conspiracy theorist and Cooper is the President of the United States, when an alien armada arrives at planet Earth, having misinterpreted their old promotional video from 1982 as a declaration of war. The aliens attack, using these antiquated video game forms as weapons.

We say, “Kevin James is the President of the United States…”

TAYLOR: Much more needn’t be said.

HOWE: Oh dear, oh dear. Another Sandler nose-plant into the dirt. I had high hopes for Pixels, mainly because his last few movies have been pretty terrible. I didn’t think the poor run could continue. Well, I was wrong. The concept of the film is cool and the animations of the games coming to life are pretty spectacular. But just like with the new gaming consoles, when games boot up, showing the opening scenes, they look flawless, then it switches over to the game itself, which is a little blocky, not as smooth. Pixels is a letdown, like video games that promise more than they deliver.

TAYLOR: There were some fun moments and I did enjoy some video game nostalgia, as well as some of their digital fakery, but it feels like everyone involved in the making of this film coasted through it, with the possible exception of the animators. Uh-oh, I feel a furious rant of exclamatory sentences coming on… Sony makes another flop. Sony owns Columbia Pictures now? Bye, Columbia, nice knowing ya. Adam Sandler makes another mediocre movie with other TV stars. Fantastic! It cost enough to feed thousands of people for years. Great! It sucks. Right! Funny? No. Not even if you’re 12? Maybe a bit. Worth watching? Well, there are enough funny and cool things in Pixels to fill a five- minute sketch on Saturday Night Live. The video game effects look interesting, for glowing cubes, but they don’t do anything. Pac-Man chomps, Donkey Kong hurls barrels. TV stars run around and make lame jokes. For the money, time, talent and concept they had, Pixels fizzles out: A perfectly boring waste.

HOWE: Pixels isn’t funny, it’s not even fun. The only thing it had going for it was the nostalgia aspect. I have a solution and it’s pretty cheap. Take a short road trip to Scandia and play some of the old arcades there, you can get a lot more entertainment out of your dollar than with a Sandler/James movie.

TAYLOR: Go see Antman, it’s way more fun.

— Howe gives Pixels 1 asteroid out of 5.

— Taylor gives it 1 triangular spaceship out of 5.


Vernon Morning Star