Actors: Lainie Kazan, Kevin James, Josh Gad, Ashley Benson, Affion Crockett
Director: Chris Columbus
Producers: Adam Sandler, Chris Columbus, Mark Radcliffe, Allen Covert
Format: Blu-ray, Ultraviolet, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen
Subtitles: French, Portuguese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Indonesian, Cantonese, Thai, Spanish, English
Dubbed: French, Portuguese, Thai, Spanish
Audio Description: English
Region: All Regions
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2018
Run Time: 106 minutes
Adam Sandler’s involvement in another lazily constructed comedy is not surprising, though I find it oddly fascinating that the quality of his films seems to diminish as the budget increases. While none have been masterpieces, some of his smaller productions have fared far better than these sophomoric blockbusters. Pixels boasts the premise of a special-effects driven action-comedy, but it has the approach of a mildly immature family film made on autopilot.
Adam Sandler stars as Adam Sandler named Sam Brenner, a former ‘80s video game champion in arrested development. Although he is still mourning the loss of a video game championship as a child, Brenner is also convenient best friends with the President of the
, Will Cooper, unimpressively
portrayed by Kevin James. This coincidence is even more significant when Earth
is attacked by an alien race taking the form of classic arcade games. Suddenly
Brenner goes from an unsuccessful loser to one of the most important people on
the planet, along with a couple of his old friends and rivals (played with
scenery-chewing relish by Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad). United
Pixels is so bland as a piece of film that it is difficult to even criticize. Sure, there are moments within the half-ass screenplay that are oddly weird and tainted with teen-fantasy misogynist tendencies. These areas of the film are just plain bad, but much of the movie is simply uninspired. Characters are turned to caricatures (with the exception of Sandler, who merely plays himself again), jokes fall flat, and the effects are surprisingly dull for a film about video games. Director Chris Columbus is known for being a safe (albeit uninspired) choice, but Pixels is an uneven endeavor even for him.
The screenplay based upon a short film takes a compelling premise and does absolutely nothing with it. The opportunity to spoof disaster films is wasted, and aside from brief spurts of nostalgia, the same could be said of the way that Pixels addresses the topic of video games. While there are some familiar characters for audience members old enough to remember the classics of arcade games, Pixel’s humor is more likely to cater to those too young to get the references. And then there’s the bizarre misogynistic tone coming from that odd sequence where a video game character becomes a mute living fantasy, going beyond bland entertainment into mindlessly sexist.
The Blu-ray release attempts to entice consumers with extras to make up for the film’s shortcomings, though it is mostly just a continued shrine to the forgotten arcade game classics. Along with featurettes for each playing a crucial role in the film, including a cross-promotional new game called Dojo Quest, there is also a game app which allows you to play along with the characters in the film on smart phones and other devices. The only extra that doesn’t seem to be directly dealing with video games is a music video by Waka Flocka Flame, featuring Good Charlotte.
Entertainment Value: 6.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 4/10
Historical Significance: 2/10