BY WHICH I mean this movie would have done so much better in the mid- to late 90s, aimed more towards the video game culture of that time period, and Adam Sandler, the mastermind behind it, should be shot into outer space for daring to produce such a horrendous piece of garbage.
I was dragged to see this movie as part of a family bonding experience. My brother loves video games, and normally so do I, so when he chose the movie, I was a little excited at first. When I found out it was a Happy Madison production, I was significantly less so.
While normally I hate giving away crucial plot points of movies, I would be more than happy to explain the entirety of this movie to any and every person I pass, just to save them from feeling the need to see it themselves. This sexist, “slapstick” comedy is one fedora away from having the tagline “m’lady” or “not all movies”, and is as predictable as an Alaskan summer day is long. So, my apologies to those who prefer not to see spoilers, but hopefully you’ll forgive me.
Why is it so terrible, you ask? Well, the thing is, the actual premise of the movie comes from a two minute YouTube video of the same name which was made a few years ago. This inherently isn’t all that bad; movies and TV shows are based off of other things all the time. The problem comes in when you begin to meet the characters and realise that, hey, Sandler’s entire character is the ‘I was cheated out of the only thing I love and now I am a total failure at everything until I get my second chance and suddenly I will rise like a phoenix and will be the most amazing and everyone will love me’ trope personified. Which is fine, to an extent. Everyone needs to be seen as being capable of being the hero at some point in their lives. But Sandler took it to an extreme, when his character got the girl he creeped on in the beginning of the movie, and his buddy got to keep a video game character as a trophy (wife).
Speaking of the ladies in the movie, there were a total of four, possibly five, with speaking roles – none of whom actually spoke to each other, despite two of them being on screen at the same time… at the end of the movie, when Qubert’s pixelated body is transformed into Lady Lisa (Ashley Benson), the heroine from Ludlow Lamensoff (played by Josh Gad)’s favourite game. While this may seem slightly sweet, if a little odd, keep in mind that throughout the entirety of the movie, Ludlow had been obsessed over Lady Lisa, to the same extent that a stalker would be obsessed over his victim. I’m sure that if she was real, and had a lick of sense, Lady Lisa would have filed a restraining order against Ludlow decades ago. Unfortunately, as seen in popular media (see: Fifty Shades of Grey and all extensions thereupon), stalking and obsessing over your beloved is seen as endearing, so in the middle of the Big Boss Battle near the end of the movie, when Ludlow finally is introduced to the pixelated form of Lady Lisa, she stops her rampage on humanity to take on an improved human form, before fighting alongside him with no real explanation as to why she is suddenly betraying her people.
If we think about it, the healthiest relationship we are introduced to in the entire movie is the one between President Will Cooper (Kevin James) and his wife, played by Jane Krakowski, whose name is not mentioned once in the entire script. That’s right – the (theoretically) most important woman in the United States, married to one of the main heroes, and with the second largest female speaking role, doesn’t even have a name. But they definitely have a relatively healthy marriage: they go out on dates, they talk to each other, and all in all they seem like they’re still happily in love. So I guess it wasn’t overly surprising, when the Prime Minister of the UK (played by an uncredited Penelope Wilton) wasn’t given a name either.
Speaking of the UK, the scenes based in London played off of a few stereotypes: the hostile footie fan, shown by the footballers who were trying to play before they were kicked out of their field; the nonsensical babbler, shown as the Prime Minister, of all people; and the posh, well-spoken gentlefolk, as portrayed by the surprised young boy whom Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler himself) saves. While some of these may hold true, combined with how (for lack of any other term) white the whole of London was, it seemed like a little too much fiction, even for a science-fiction movie.
And on that note, with the exception of the small cast representing the victims of the alien attack in India, and a select few of the aggressive, overly-masculine marines, there was no representation for any people of colour, especially not on the main team of heroes. While this is common in Hollywood, and to be expected from Sandler, it’s just another nail in this movie’s coffin.
Throughout the movie it becomes painfully clear that, as far as Pixels is concerned, women are just as much for the entertainment of the heroes as the arcade games are, if not more so. And that it’s okay to cheat by memorising the patterns of these games, but if you plug in a cheat-code then suddenly you’re the bad guy who just destroyed any chance for humanity to survive (thanks, Peter Dinklage. Although it’s not your fault that Eddie Plant was such a deplorable character).
Overall, I’d score this movie a negative three out of ten. All it’s really good for is replacing the current torture systems in place, and even then I’m not sure how good it’d be at its job.