Movie Review: Pixels (2015)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2015 comedy starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James.

Synopsis: In 1982, 13-year-old arcade wizard Sam Brenner finished second in a video game tournament. NASA sent footage of that tournament into space and inadvertently caused a misunderstanding with an alien race that believed the footage was a declaration of war. Thirty-three years later, the aliens attack Earth using weapons designed after the classic video games on the video. With the planet being unprepared and facing annihilation, it is up to Sam, now a 46-year-old home theater installer, and two other 1980s video game masters to find a way to win.


My wife and I intended on spending part of last night watching some of the shows we had recorded on DVR. However, after discovering the recorded shows were actually repeats we had seen before, I ended up picking out this movie to watch instead.

Even though this film looked interesting in the previews, I have been putting off watching it for some time now. This is because, while Adam Sandler has had some good movies, he's also had quite a few that weren't very good. And, in all honesty, I was expecting this one to fall into that latter category. However, after watching it last night, I do have to admit it was one of his better recent endeavors.

The weaponized video game classics were actually pretty fun to watch, especially when the aliens used a real-life version of Centipede (a game I spent hours playing as a kid). The decision to have all heck break loose at the end and throw in just about every classic character you could think of was also a nice touch, though I would have loved to see some of them do a bit more damage.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by Sandler's performance in this movie too. As I said, I'm not a fan of a lot of his movies and a big part of the reason for that is he tends to play his roles a little too over the top to the point he can ruin an otherwise decent film. This time, however, he kept things tapered down quite a bit and, while I'm not sure the movie was necessarily any better because he was in it (it was a role quite a few other actors could have played), he didn't hurt it.

My only real complaint about this movie is it was a film that was in desperate need of a surprise twist. In fact, I kept waiting for one to happen and it never did.

Personally, I would have loved it if the "alien" weapons were really controlled by the president (James) in an effort to improve his sagging approval rating, making him a surprise bad guy. Instead, the main bad guy ended up being Donkey Kong, which was pretty darn obvious since that was the one video game Sam (Sandler) couldn't defeat as a kid. While it didn't ruin the movie, it did make the ending a little more predictable than it needed to be.

Final Opinion

It's not the best comedy I've watched or even one of Sandler's best films. However, it was a movie that did exceed my expectations and is worth watching at least once.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 04/24/2017, StevenHelmer
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