These days you can almost hear the world collectively groan if the words ‘Adam Sandler’ and ‘movie’ appear in the same sentence. When the perennial man-child puts on that voice (the one that hasn’t worked for a character since Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison), it’s enough to make you throw your popcorn at the screen.
Thankfully Sandler is a semblance of a grown-up in Pixels – a comedy packed full of retro video game nostalgia such as Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Centipede. He does well at playing the hero here, and perhaps it’s because the subject matter speaks to him, as it does for those of us who visited arcades to socialise and get our gaming fixes.
The film has been universally panned and it’s easy to see why — the concept may be fun but the story is weak. Aliens misinterpret a record of life sent to space in the ‘80s as a declaration of war and respond by challenging Earth. Luckily, they are nice enough to adapt themselves to look like old-school video games — so we feel more comfortable — and to give the people of earth three attempts at saving the planet.
Who wouldn’t want to run around in an oversized, interactive computer game playground?
Sandler plays child arcade prodigy Sam Brenner, who realises he’s had no purpose in life since his glory days of being a gaming champion. When the aliens attack, his best friend and (conveniently for the plot) President of the USA (Kevin James), enlists Brenner to help lead the quickly prepared defence.
Although the supporting cast are doing their best with a ridiculous story, Pixels is consistently entertaining. This is largely to do with the special effects and the nostalgia of the games. Michelle Monaghan and Sandler have some nice chemistry as love interests, although their romance and her character’s angle as a ‘hot-mess-military-woman’ is completely unnecessary.
There are plenty of star-studded cameos and pop culture references to get laughs and Pixels just looks like fun — who wouldn’t want to run around in an oversized, interactive computer game playground? Don’t take Pixels too seriously and it’s easy entertainment.
Star rating/5: **
In Australian cinemas September 10