Pixels (2015)

Nerds will save the world from ultimate destruction. Not Adam Sandler.

In 1982, Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler) thought he was the ultimate champ at arcade games. Turns out, however, he was wrong when he lost in the final round to the likes of Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage). Now, over 30 years later, Sam’s life is a bit depressing – he’s middle-aged, single, and works a job as a electronics repairman. His best friend, on the other hand, Will Cooper (Kevin James), just so happens to be the President of the United States, so at least he has that going for him. Everything in their lives change one day when, out of the blue, old-school video games start attacking them; nobody really knows why, but all anybody can make up is the fact that these attacks are serious and that cautionary action should be taken right away. But because beating these arcade games takes a certain type of skill and persistence, the U.S. Army can’t defeat them, which brings President Cooper to ask the aid of Sam, Eddie, Lieutenant Colonel Violet van Patten (Michelle Monaghan), and a fellow gamer from the past named Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad). The fate of the world, now rests solely in their finger-tips.

All of the kiddies will love Q'Bert, until they realize that little 'effer curses up a storm.
All of the kiddies will love Q*bert, until they realize that little ‘effer curses up a storm.

Movies like Pixels make me wonder what’s wrong with me. Not just a movie-viewer, however, but as a person. See, while I am all for despising the likes of Adam Sandler and all of the pieces of utter feces he’s been putting out lately, there’s something about Pixels that I couldn’t help but like. Sure, I know there’s clearly a huge hatred for this movie already and more or less, I’m definitely in the minority of this thing, but for some reason, I enjoyed myself during Pixels.

If any of you readers want to write me off right here and now, I will not be offended. In fact, I would welcome you as smart, conscious human beings, who clearly know who they do and don’t want to read. However, for those of you who are at least slightly interested in where I’m going with this, then I say, thank you and please bear with me for as long as you possibly can.

Still here?

Good! Let’s get going!

As is, Pixels is better than most Adam Sandler movies we’ve been seeing in the past decade. I realize that’s like saying it’s better to get shot in the head, then to jump on a live grenade, but still, it’s something that needs to be said. Because while Pixels could have easily been another case where Sandler gets all of his pals together, both in front of and behind the camera, to just goof around and hurl whatever they want on the screen, for no other reason other than to take up people’s time, it actually doesn’t turn out that way. It’s still produced by Happy Madison, but rather than getting the most generic-of-generic directors around that Sandler usually aligns himself with, Chris Columbus steps up to the plate and does a relatively fine job at keeping the pace constantly moving.

Columbus, having directed the first two Harry Potter‘s and many other blockbusters, is already used to these kind of big-budget, wild extravaganzas. And though some people may already be fuming with anger that I even dropped the name Harry Potter in a review about an Adam Sandler movie, it’s not like this is so incredibly distasteful that it should never be watched. Believe it or not, there is a plot here that moves, there is some humor to be found that isn’t just Sandler’s same old brand of making fun of easy targets, and when you get right down to it, there are some fun performances from those involved.

Is that to say the movie is perfect? Hell to the no!

But like I’ve stated before, Pixels is in no way, shape, or form, quite like Sandler’s recent disasters. That’s not saying much at all, but when you go to an Adam Sandler movie and don’t have the feeling of wanting to rip out your ears, eyes and brain, then it’s definitely something that’s more positive than bad. Whatever that may mean for some of you, I do not know, but for me, it means that at least Sandler was able to get some help this time around and not make this into another Grown Ups, produced by Nintendo.

Just imagine Pac Man as the general public and this scene's a whole lot funnier.
Just imagine Pac Man as the general public and this scene’s a whole lot funnier.

Like I alluded to earlier in my first paragraph, Pixels makes me wonder what’s so wrong with me? See, even though everybody on the face of the planet seems to be despising this one literally as soon as they walk out of the theater, for me, I couldn’t help but feel a little pleased. Don’t get me wrong, I realized that there were certain problems in the comedy-department as some jokes worked, whereas others totally failed, or that solid actors like Jane Krakowski, Sean Bean, Dan Aykroyd, and Brian Cox are here to just practically do nothing, but to me, the overall fun feel of this movie was enough to let all of those issues slide-on by.

Because, once again, this movie could have been a whole lot worse, but thankfully, it wasn’t.

Maybe that’s a judge of my character, and less about others, but still, if there’s something wrong with me to where I enjoy certain movies like Pixels, and despise the absolute hell out of a movie like Paper Towns, then so be it. Everybody has their guilty pleasures, as well as their own minority picks; one person does not think the same about one thing as another person does, nor do most people conform to what others are sticking with because it’s, for lack of a better term, the majority to roll with. I, for one, have never been like that and don’t plan on doing so anytime soon.

So if a silly movie starring Adam Sandler has to remind me of that, then so be it. I’ll keep being me, ya’ll can keep being yourselves.

So, have I lost all of my followers yet?

Consensus: Despite obvious problems in certain departments, Pixels is still entertaining enough to be one of Sandler’s better movies in recent memory, even if, once again, that’s not saying much to begin with.

6.5 / 10

I'll only trust the girl from True Detective, Tyrionne, and Olaf to save the world. That other person there? Yeah, not so much.
I’ll only trust the girl from True Detective, Tyrion, and Olaf to save the world. That other person there? Yeah, not so much.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz



  1. When I first saw the trailer for this, I was wholly sold on the premise – until Adam Sandler’s mug appeared on the screen.

    Then, I couldn’t hate it enough.

    Fuck this movie, because Sandler.

  2. I feel like Pixels is a movie I would’ve been all about at age 10, but looking at it now, it just looks a bit too ridiculous for me. I’ll be passing. Great review! I’m glad it was entertaining at least.

  3. I saw it and actually liked Sandler’s performance. All my issues stem from a complete failure of the writers, director, and producers. Some where in there they made a conscious decision to say, “Screw it.” and it shows in the final product. I feel like the actors were making the best of a bad situation.

    I had fun with it but there were way too many issues for modern film. I mean would it have killed them to consult someone who ever met a gamer?

  4. I do think Adam Sandler films are somewhat getting better, considering the horrific zoolander film I still can’t believe I watched. My first thoughts when I saw the trailer was that is kind of reminded me of the watch, a comedy about a group of middle aged men fighting with some sort of Alain life force, not to say the trailer for pixels didn’t interest me, it did but I don’t think it’s one I’m going to be watching at the cinema. Great review though!

  5. This has a great premise especially when I’m absolutely nerdy and love classic arcade games. That big Pac-Man is enough to make me to go check it out but I’ve learned that only one aspect is never enough to get to see this. It just has a whole cast that I don’t understand their humor so there’s really a 25% chance of this being entertaining for me. I might still give it a watch when it lands on Netflix on a day I’m tired and brain-dead.

  6. I usually agree with you, at least partially, but could not be on more different sides of the fence here. Please, Dan, study the movie; take notes and dwell on them. Take more than a day and think. And then see it a second time. There is a glaring misogynistic attitude to it and a disgusting definition of masculinity. People who merely “like” movies will enjoy this. People who “appreciate” cinema, and the art form, will rightfully object.

    Also, please don’t use the term “guilty pleasure.” If you want to be a film critic, or in the least a reviewer and merely enjoy or dislike a film, embrace the debate it has in store. It’s subjective. YOU are writing the piece; it is inherently personal. You have an obvious affinity for film. I follow your site, read your reviews, so much so that I can normally gauge how you will react. You have talent and aptitude. So please, take your ratings seriously. The readers deserve better. Watch/read more and write less. Quantity does not equal quality…editing is key. It will benefit you beyond your imagination.

  7. I won’t write you off for enjoying Pixels Dan, but I might suggest having your head examined. Haha. You’re right though that it does move and Chris Columbus is probably to thank for that. And maybe my frame of reference is off because the last Adam Sandler movie I had seen was 2010’s Grown Ups. I lost all context for how awful things have been since then. I know I had issues with how lazy and nonsensical its plot is. It can’t set any rules or stick to them, these are big reasons why I couldn’t stand the movie.

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