Pixels (2015)

It's easy to hate on Adam Sandler. The big issue is the name of his production company - Happy Madison. The very name transports me back to a time when he produced the new and innovative in-your-face comedic characters of Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison. Yes, they relied on jokes from his stand-up and SNL days, but they were well woven into the tapestry of a funny story, and I can't help but think of Bob Barker beating Happy up and smiling.

Fast forward 19 years, and you have Adam still using the same old jokes, but implementing them worse, telling them worse, and relying on more comedians who have more talent and less money to support the weak and now unrelatable main character who is usually pretty much Adam Sandler with a different name and an actual job.

This movie is a grab at the 40-something's love of nostalgia and those classic old video games that had no idea what AI was and instead relied on very bad pseudo-random number generators to try to eliminate predictable patterns in their games. The love of the games and the special effects to create those games is as central to the story as Adam's quips and snide remarks.

The story in its essence is that aliens get a record of kids playing video games and assume we are challenging them to a war with these parameters. So, they attack, and we have to beat the games being played in real life in order to not be annihilated. There are so many issues that you have to simply ignore to allow this premise to continue that I'm going to ignore almost all of them. The one that is crucial is that many of these games simply have no end. The levels just keep getting faster and faster until you die - that was the nature of the game. So, there's no way to actually "win" one of them.

In this world, Kevin James is president. Again, this is not the most implausible thing in the world that has been created, but it's pretty damn close. Kevin and Adam were best friends growing up, and they still meet each other for lunch every now and then, despite the security nightmare that this would inevitably cause the Secret Service.

Michelle Monaghan is the ridiculously pretty girl who would not give Adam the time of day in real life if he wasn't a multi-millionaire, and he even makes fun of her for it in the movie. Fact is, he wouldn't be spending time with her on screen if it wasn't the case, so enjoy your meta romance, Adam. She needlessly tows Matt Lintz in as her son to pander to the children who may be in the audience.

The only question we have:
How big will the paycheck be?
I'm going to hit the remaining high points in the cast in a quickfire round: Peter Dinklage is Adam's old nemesis from when they competed in video games. Josh Gad exists because they needed another gamer. Brian Cox sullies his excellent acting reputation by putting on a half-hearted American accent and being a General or something. Jane Krakowski is the milquetoast First Lady. Sean Bean is the British guy who hates Adam and his friends and commands some portion of the UK military. Dan Aykroyd plays an MC at a competition when Adam and his buddies were little.

Acting was not good
Direction was okay
Story was terrible
Dialog was terrible
Jokes weren't particularly funny

Bottom Line: At some point, it has to be financially unfeasible for Adam Sandler to continue to put this stuff out. So, there's hope.



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