When aliens confuse a NASA time capsule containing footage from an Eighties arcade game competition as a declaration of war, they send characters from the games down to Earth in an attempt to annihilate humankind, and only Adam Sandler and his buddies can stop them. It’s a stupid as it sounds. But not the kind of stupid that becomes an endearing cult classic. Pixels is one of those films that makes you wonder why no-one realised what was happening during pre-production and stopped it before it went too far. Pixels is the kid that poos in the sandbox and ruins it for everyone.
It’s hard to believe that Gremlins, Home Alone and Pixels came out of the same person. If the first two came from Chris Columbus’s heart, Pixels came out of his nose on a handkerchief.
Besides the (actually really brilliant) visual effects, about seven seconds of dialogue and Peter Dinklage’s hair, Pixels has no redeeming qualities. The movie has been marketed as ‘Eighties’ nostalgia’, a blast from the past, if you will. What they really mean is ‘Eighties’ sexism, Eighties’ video games and digitally altered VTs of Madonna, Hervé Villechaize and Hall and Oates’. It’s a film that the studio was obviously expecting families to go and see together, but there are a couple of major flaws: the Eighties references go over the heads of anyone born after 1989, and the child-friendly stuff is too stupid for adults to sit through without bursting into flame.
It’s a mystery why some of the cast agreed to be part of it. Michelle Monaghan, why are you in this? Did you have a debt to settle? Does Sandler have something on you? Are you now free from the shackles of his emotional blackmail? Unfortunately, some people are just too good for this film. Even more unfortunately, others are not good enough: Sandler, for example, which is a real shame seeing as he’s in almost every scene. He’s sometimes on the mark timing-wise, but the jokes are rarely funny. Many are actually excruciating. Just try to forget.