Review: Pixels Taught Me What True Hatred Is
Director: Chris Columbus
Screenwriter: Tim Herlihy (screenplay and screen story), Timothy Dowling (screenplay), and Patrick Jean (short film)
Principal Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, and Matt Lintz
Summary: When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack Earth in the form of the video games.
When I was growing up in the late 1980’s and 1990’s my Dad worked for the video game industry. I was one of those rare kids that played video games AND read books,much to the surprise of many adults. I’m quite protective of those early video games and that was one of the reasons I was so nervous about Pixels. This is already ignoring the fact that Futurama already did this joke, and I was very worried about Adam Sandler taking the games I grew up on and turning them into lazy jokes. The trailers weren’t looking much better and I went into Pixels with extremely low expectations.
Pixels is not just another terrible Adam Sandler movie; it is a movie that three days later I’m still angry that this movie even got produced.
I’m not sure I can get into every way that Pixels fails as a movie because I have a limit to the length of my review, and I’m fairly sure I could turn it into a novel if I wanted to. Pixels is the worst movie I’ve seen this year and this is a year that had Fifty Shades of Grey in it. There was not a single moment of this movie where I thought that it was working for even a second. There is not a single joke that sticks properly. There is not a single moment that isn’t cringe inducingly terrible. There is not a single frame of Pixels that is worth even looking at.
The “story” is that we sent out a probe with recordings of our pop culture, including video games, and aliens mistake it as a war call. They decide to challenge us to three games for the fate of the human race but the games don’t make any sense. In one scene, where they are playing Centipede, the humans are the good guys. However, just a few minutes later, the humans are the ghosts in Pac-Man. They mention the “rules” but there don’t seem to be any real rules that make any sense. At one point someone uses a cheat code and never explains how that even works because I’m pretty sure that you can’t type a cheat into real life.
This is ignoring the insulting levels of humor in the movie. For some reason the aliens send us down a trophy when we win the form of Q-Bert who briefly becomes the only semi decent point in the movie. There is a female character in the movie, the second one, who doesn’t have a speaking role but becomes a trophy. That is her entire character; being a trophy because apparently subtle misogyny is too much for Adam Sandler. This is not including all of the homophobia and the insulting way it goes about giving the “nerds” the credit. The entire character arc of the nerds in the movie is about embracing modern gaming over the patterns of the old games.
I’ve seen these jokes work (as I said, Futurama basically did this) but Pixels is just so terrible that I want to choke every single person who decided this was a good idea. I want to slap whoever decided that making Kevin James the President of the United States seemed like a believable thing. As I walked out of the theater I was glad that Saturo Iwata was not here to see what this movie did to the video games he helped create. I was left wondering how in debt Peter Dinklage must be to agree to this movie.
Pixels is not just a terrible movie; it is insulting to anyone who has ever enjoyed a video game. It’s insulting to anyone that enjoys comedy on a basic level. It’s the worst thing I’ve had to sit through all year. I thought I understood what dislike was, I thought I had seen the worst when I had to sit through Fifty Shades of Grey and Get Hard and Hot Pursuit, but I would rather watch all three of those three times than sit through Pixels. Do not give this movie your money because those are 100 minutes of your life you could spend doing anything else and it would be better.