Here’s the pull quote, people: Pixels – It’s not as bad as you’ve heard.
Of course it isn’t. For Pixels to earn the sort of scathing reviews it has been receiving out of North America, it would have to slap each member of the audience in the face individually, arrange to have your pets murdered while you were at the cinema and then flaunt Adam Sandler’s genitalia in each and every scene.
It doesn’t. It doesn’t do anything that offensive. Nor anything memorable at all really. It’s just that it promised more than it was ever going to deliver. Way more.
The first trailer promised a rollicking comedy riffing on early ‘80s arcade games mashed with a Michael Bay-style Earth-threatening action flick. The world took notice. “Yes” they said. “Brilliant idea!”
Unfortunately it’s not the idea behind this film.
This film is actually the next chapter in Adam Sandler’s migration from making adult comedies about kidults (Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy, The Wedding Singer) to making family movies with actual kids (Bedtime Stories, Grown Ups 2, Blended). It features kids and it is made for them. The story sees President Kevin James (yes, really) ask life-long friend Sandler, a childhood arcade champ, to save Earth by playing aliens in Pac Man, Snake and Donkey Kong and in doing so overcome his childhood trauma. Plus, save the kids.
The problem is that the young target audience have never heard of the games – this is pitched at tweens, not even teens – while the generations who are arcade literate get a patronising snooze fest.
That disconnect has allowed adult audiences to vent their pent-up aggression built over years of Jack and Jill, That’s My Boy and Just Go With It. Sandler has indeed earned the vitriol directed at hime, but this film hasn’t.
Pixels is a harmless family film that kids can enjoy on TV even if they don’t quite understand the references. It’s not a great film about monsters attacking Earth, but it’s also not a monster itself.
‘Pixels’ Movie Times. (Also in 3D)