Pixels is Pointless Nostalgia

Adam Sandler is all out of fucks. Despite lampooning his ridiculous career route in the underrated Funny People, Sandler subsequently continued those wayward ways in one bad comedy after another. Pixels ain’t exactly the worst of the lot, in fact, there are redeeming qualities to the 80’s nostalgia piece. If you’re over twenty-five, sneaky jokes abound about Donkey Kong and Pacman and the generational chasm between those innocent arcades of yore and the violent visual tapestries that make up video games today, but they’re not enough to sustain even a 100 minute running time. Adding failure to folly, Sandler’s usual juvenile tricks are on display, asking us to laugh at Josh Gad’s inexplicably homosexual tendencies towards muscle-bound Marines. Being somewhat juvenile myself, I laughed, but as Happy Madison is want to do, the jokes are revisited ad nauseum. Sandler sleep-walks here as the average schmo who can save us all, while Kevin James as the President of the United States is sort of funny if you excuse all real world pretense. And, naturally, Peter Dinklage brings all manner of charisma to the role of a douchebag gamer and rival to Sandler’s character, a typical supporting weirdo in this sort of comedy: cocky, perverted, with a hard-on for the unconventional (in this case, Serena Williams and Martha Stewart). Surprisingly, the visual effects are splendid, interpreting these giant electronic beings as gyrating cubes of universal light. However, director Chris Columbus of Harry Potter fame has no command of chaos or pacing anymore, orchestrating each set piece like an obligation instead of a nascent flow of the form. This is feel-good nostalgia, but it’s also pointless when surrounded by the lowest common denominator of comedy. The question isn’t whether Pixels is any good. It’s not. The question is whether Sandler will ever turn the corner again.

Grade: C-

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