I was fully expecting to hate Pixels. No, really. After a flood of negative reviews came out and trashed the movie, I figured the only saving grace would be the video game characters within the film. Hope against hope, I went into Pixels expecting the worst.
Thankfully, the lowering of my expectations helped a lot. While Pixels is not perfect or even very good, it still is a lot of fun. That’s it-fun. I mean, you can’t go into a movie like this thinking it’s going to have incredible acting or a lot of wonderful substance. It’s just not. What it does offer is simply a “leave your brain at the door” hour and forty minute adventure that plugs 80’s pop culture into our senses and makes the smiles come if you enjoy that kind of thing.
Let’s get the bad out of the way first. You’re probably thinking, “He’s going to say Adam Sandler,” right? No. Sandler actually is the straight man here, and we are all better for it. He actually does have some funny lines. Honestly though, Kevin James is the one of the worst things about the movie. He’s just bad. He’s not funny and he’s just kind of there.
The other really bad thing about this movie is the relationship Sandler forcefully develops with Michelle Monaghan. The actress, who is beautiful and has done some great stuff, has a lack of material to work with here. Every scene where they have her and Sandler getting together is shoved down our throats and I could not care about that in the slightest.
When Sandler isn’t with her, he’s fine. Actually, he looks like he’s having a ton of fun. More importantly, Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage look like they are having a ball too, and it’s evident, because they both are great. Gad actually had me laughing out loud the most, and Dinklage just completely owns every time he’s on the screen. It would’ve just been a better idea to make these two guys the leads, but oh well.
So anyway, the aforementioned people all have to take down the bad guy aliens, and those aliens come in the form of video game characters from the 1980s. A lot of the characters featured here aren’t going to be recognizable to the kids who undoubtedly will be venturing in droves to see this. I would also say this movie, despite its content, is kind of raunchy at points and throws in a lot of inappropriate language that I wasn’t expecting. Keep that in mind if you are bringing the little ones.
When the video game references aren’t on screen, the movie does kind of drag. Don’t get me wrong, there are some scenes with just the humans that are really good; the opening sequence when Sandler, James, Gad, and Dinklage are all kids is extremely entertaining. One would wonder if Pixels had kids as the heroes; I think it would be a serious 80s throwback, in the vein of Goonies or E.T. However, we have what we have, and even then, it’s not that bad.
When you begin a movie with Cheap Trick’s “Surrender,” you have to allow yourself to settle in for a good time (it should be noted that the soundtrack to this film is awesome, chock full of late 1970s and 1980s tunes). Pixels starts off really strong and then takes 20 steps backwards, working its way back slowly to where it was at the start, with that kind of nostalgic feeling of fun taking over. In a relevant nature, it’s almost like the movie itself is learning to play a game; beginning looks promising, but as you take the course, you have to find your way. That’s no excuse for the project of Pixels, as it could’ve been something really memorable. As it stands, the movie is enjoyable for what it is. However, Pixels is far from the game changer that could have (possibly) been.
Pixels Rating: 6.5/10
Logan J. Fowler is a senior writer and video game editor on Po-Break.com. He contributes his thoughts every week for Trailer Tuesday and has his own column called “A Link to the Past.” Logan’s “kid at heart” nature has led to his discussion about pop culture that many geeks love to talk about, including superheroes, Super Mario Bros., Pixar, and Muppets, among other things. In addition, one of his first pieces for the site, “Top Ten Comic Book Movies,” was picked as a “Freshly Pressed” piece by WordPress and remains one of the site’s most well-read articles. He graduated from Wagner College in 2005 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and in 2007 with a Master of Science in Education Degree in Birth-6th Grade Literacy. He also holds a Teacher of Students with Disabilities Certification from Rutgers. Many of Logan’s friends have said that he moonlights as Spider-Man but this is so not true. Wait, are those police sirens I’m hearing?! Gotta go! -thwipp-