Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad,Brian Cox,Dan Aykroyd, Sean Bean
Director: Chris Columbus
Designed to please Atari and NIntendo fans, this manic 3D animated, sci fi action comedy helmed by Chris Columbus ( of “Home Alone” and Harry Potter fame ) tells the story of dumb and dangerous aliens who misinterpret video games as a declaration of war against them and attack the Earth, imitating the games for their assaults. It starts in the early eighties when NASA despatches samples of culture ( including PacMan) into space and nerdy preteen duo Will Cooper and Sam Brenner spend their leisure hours playing video games, and soon expand into a trio with cute and podgy Ludlow who only has his grandmother for company.
Their friendship remains strong in adulthood when the trio takes differing career paths: one of which takes Will ( Kevin James )Cooper to the White House while Sam ( Adam Sandler) Brenner makes a living as a home theatre installer and Ludlow ( Josh Gad) continues to be obsessed with a female video game character and indulge in conspiracy theories. The trio’s skills are put to good use 30 years later when Guam is attacked by an army of pixellated toons and the US Prez summons Sam to join jailbird (and ex gaming champ) Eddie (Peter Dinklage ) to battle the aliens and save the earth. Giving them moral and material support is single mother and weapons specialist, Lt. Col. Violet Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan).
“Pac-Man’s a bad guy?” Sam is shocked.Utterly, totally. He is also floored by snobbish and beautiful Violet and the dismal fact that she has been abandoned by her husband for a 19 year old. Ludlow is equally smitten and tells her “You smell so nice, like the Book of Genesis.” We are not amused by this invocation of Scripture particularly because Eddie’s price for battling the aliens is a threesome with tennis star Serena Williams and TV personality Martha Stewart. Actually,Pixels flaunts a host of other celebs including a very young Madonna but me, I enjoyed seeing veterans Ackroyd, Bean and Cox. I also liked the social commentary ( mainly courtesy, Sandler’s character) which is woven into themes of friendship and courage. Even so, Pixels is not quite a family friendly film. I guess Sandler and Columbus decided to use a zany trip down memory lane as a mirror to the lewd desires of lascivious adults.