Friday, July 31, 2015


* out of ****

In Pixels, Adam Sandler looks worn-out, uninterested and lazy in the role of a former arcade game champion, who is supposed to be reinvigorated when the call to be a hero comes his way. I rarely hold the movie star accountable for a bad performance, but I have to bear in mind that while Sandler may not be the director, this is the man in front of - and behind most of his movies.

There's one long dumb scene when he's brought in to consult top men at the White House. After his suggestions are disregarded, he makes his way toward the door, turns back to all the pompous esteemed men, and resorts to the lamest name calling rant he has ever produced in his two decades of mean-spirited humor.

This was only shortly after he had a conversation with a beautiful woman that got intimate a little unbelievably fast - and when she rejected his attempted kiss, he used so many words to call her a snob.

It's my assumption that this is Sandler maintaining his long tradition of pandering to an audience, which he assumes to be lower-class. He probably assumes this audience feels ignored by more accomplished people. He's right there with them as an overgrown kid who doesn't care about fine dining, table manners or imported beers. Sandler essentially crouches down to the "common man" and makes baby noises, hoping that he paid extra to watch his latest lack of passion in 3D.

I may be capable of defending this man for his proven comic and acting potential, but when Sandler himself has spent nearly a decade avoiding this potential, opting instead for his Happy Madison production company to act as a cheerleader for ignorance and low standards in moviegoers, I’m finding myself siding with so many others who just choose to hate the guy.

As dumb an idea as a feature-length version of the internet short, Pixels may sound to some, the concept of aliens invading our world while taking the form of low bit-rate ‘80s arcade game characters sounds like comic gold to me. The short film proved how aesthetically amusing the concept was. Forming a story around it that mocks disaster films could have gone in a great direction if Sandler and Co. (that is, whoever these screenwriter lackeys of his may be) had felt inspired.

Beyond Sandler's tendency to bring in overqualified actors (This time it's Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, and poor Michelle Monaghan) to work with himself and Kevin James (as this movie's President of the United States), the only new effort this film shows is in its aesthetics. Giving a higher-grade representation of what the short film already accomplished, courtesy of big name effects houses, is the kind of eye candy that works like bait for people who have the most superficial assumptions of what will excite them. Chris Columbus, a seasoned (if not great) director was also brought on board which gives this particular Crappy Madison production a comparatively rich look.

But do not be fooled. The fact that this movie looks higher quality, only makes it worse that below the surface is a long, sad, unfunny experience utilizing money and power to tamper with an entire generation’s affection for classic video games without any appreciation for the privileged opportunity. The story doesn't really make sense - even on its own terms; jokes with potential are botched before your eyes, and the ending involves a resolution that is so jaw-droppingly sexist, you'll want to believe it's simply shock-humor on Sandler's part... 

...But there's no way he's that sophisticated.

This isn’t a disaster comedy. It’s a comedy disaster.

But you don't need to take my word for it...

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