In no way do you have to love arcade games to love this movie.
PG-13 | 105 min | Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi
Review - Matt Mungle
**In theaters July 24, 2015**
Synopsis: When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games.
Review: In no way do you have to love arcade games to love this movie. Any child of the 80's will find so much to reflect on, laugh about, and geek out on. PIXELS may be the next cult classic film in the vein of Ghostbusters. Even Adam Sandler manages to keep it reigned in - for the most part - as he balances out the sarcastic wit with some heartfelt moments.
As young boys in 1982, Brenner (Adam Sandler), Cooper (Kevin James), and Ludlow (Josh Gad) were the champs at arcade games. They knew every pattern and lived to play level after level. Now 30 years later they have to dust off those skills in order to save our planet from an alien invasion. Joined by their gaming nemesis Eddie (Peter Dinklage) they must unite, put aside their differences, and play like never before.
One rule going in to this film is simple. Don't try and take it too seriously. Leave all your "why's" in your Q*bert lunch box back at the house. It is the same with most Adam Sandler films. He gets his friends together and they make a movie. The casting is usually not very well thought out but at the same time he gets people who are likable and solid comedians. Is it plausible that Kevin James would be a governmental leader? No. Is it funny? Incredibly. The trio of Gad, Sandler, and James is heavy artillery enough but when you add the versatility of Dinklage to the mix and you get humor that is off the charts. Peter can go from ELF to THE STATION AGENT to DEATH AT FUNERAL to GAME OF THRONES and never miss a beat. Then he comes into a goofball comedy like this and not once seems like it is beneath him. He knocks every line and facial expression out of the park. It's gold.
Josh Gad may walk out of this one with the high score though. He unabashedly takes his character to the heights of nerdy geekdom. It is a reminder of why Olaf was the hit of Frozen. Here we get not only the voice and artistic delivery but the human form of Gad as well. The way he manages to keep control of the out of control persona of Ludlow is remarkable. It is as if he is juggling atomic energy. You worry that at any moment he will drop something and it will all implode in on itself. But he never does.
The supreme moments of this film are the 80's references. It is like a museum exhibit for the pop culture, celebrities, and dialogue of that decade. Though set in current day the aliens use 80's influences as they try and communicate to Earth. It is not only unique but clever as heck. You find yourself trying to spot all the references and are afraid to laugh too hard or you will miss the next funny bit of dialogue. Adam Sandler is always Adam Sandler. He doesn't try to be anyone else. His sarcastic jabs at people are his go to staple and he utilizes it perfectly here. And he does it without relying strictly on an off color innuendo.
The effects are better in the film then they appear in the trailer. The Pixels are just that, pixels, and we are so used to seeing clean seamless graphics that we forget that is the point. These are arcade game graphics they are battling and they have to look as nostalgic as the brand. PAC-man is sure to be a hit but there are so many other minor players in this one that it is near impossible to spot them all. Only the true die hard Arcadian will be able to do so.
PIXELS is rated PG-13 for some language and suggestive comments. It is far tamer than most Happy Madison productions and most of the language and innuendo is fast and non offensive. There is too much to like in this film to not pic any of the rating content. It is bottom line a hilarious and fun movie experience. I give it 4.5 out of 5 coin slots. That is impressive for a Sandler film but this one plays the comic pattern perfectly.
Review - Matt Mungle - @themungle