Pixels (2015)

(On Cable TV, February 2016) I’m halfway convinced that a good comedy could have emerged from Pixels’ premise: What if classic gamers were the only chance to save Earth from comically misguided aliens? Unfortunately, there’s no way Adam Sandler could have been associated with said hypothetical good comedy, because Pixels as it exists right now is a big misfire. You can see how the premise was corrupted the moment Happy Madison productions touched the picture, in how Sandler gives himself a middle-aged teenager’s role (hitting on divorcees almost as a first order of business), inexplicably presents Kevin James as President of the United States and keeps going in that vein. The absurdity leads to, and I’m not making this up, a human/alien hybrid that … yeah, I don’t want to talk about it. If Pixels is a predictable failure as a comedy, it can be partially redeemed as a special effects spectacle: From time to time, the aliens attack the earth with voxels and the special effects are actually fun to watch. The New York Pac-Man sequence is generally enjoyable, and there’s a bit of amusing chaos toward the end of the film, even though the climax compresses itself to a disappointing Donkey Kong sequence. There’s probably something interesting to write about how eighties pop culture is now entering its second nostalgic phase, but Pixels gives very little substance to discuss. After all, there’s a much better movie to be made from Pixels than Pixels.

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