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Film Review of Pixels
Adam Sandler. That sloppy-eyed, loveable loser. This variation on the Sandler persona, directed by Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Harry Potter 1 & 2), shows him destined for video game greatness.
Sandler is Jumpman
In the prologue we see a teenage version of Sandler in 1982, aceing classics such as Q*bert, Space Invaders, Frogger and Pacman, before coming second in the national Donkey Kong championships. Following that, we’re led to believe his life took a ‘severe’ downturn that resulted in him working as a delivery man who installs big screen TVs in rich clients’ homes – while his best friend, Will (James), is president of the United States.
However, when Earth comes under attack from space aliens who misinterpreted a video feed of classic games as a declaration of war, he is hired as chief advisor to the military. Aliens in the form of classic games characters are attacking major cities, and only Sandler and his childhood buddies can prevent total annihilation.
Happy with more of Gilmore
Love him, hate him, either way, it seems like Sandler is not going anywhere, having just signed a three-picture deal with Netflix after their viewership algorithms determined that what subscribers want more than anything – more than Kevin Spacey chewing up the White House, more than the resurrection of beloved comedies prematurely cancelled – was yes, more Adam Sandler.
If that’s not what you want, then clearly you’re in the minority. Personally I thought the casting of Sandler in Paul T Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love was inspired. Not simply because the film was touching and the role fit Sandler like a glove, but primarily because it focused on the darker, self-loathing aspects of almost all his characters and condensed them into a single ball, crippled by anger and bound by an overwhelming misanthropic hatred.
Mean men vs green men
That misanthropy is here too – in the worst possible sense. Instances of casual racism and misogyny pepper a script that is not only jingoistic but mean-spirited and deeply unfunny.
The targets for the comedy are frequently people who fall short of physical perfection, while the bad guys are generally educated and dare to use ‘big words’. While stupidity and ignorance are, of course, presented as heroic traits to be celebrated – even in a president – and true love is personified by a buxom blond who, having no lines, is essentially mute. At one point a character searches for a put-down worse than ‘pathetic maggot’, so plumps instead for ‘pathetic girl maggot’. Hilarious.
Even the Imp can’t save it
As with Patrick Jean’s beautiful French short that inspired this monstrosity, there is something satisfying about watching real world objects being destroyed by these video game invaders – the process can be best described as ‘pixelation’ in three dimensions.
Buildings, cars and people are all colourfully disintegrated into millions of tiny cubes (a similar effect is used in JJ Abram’s Super 8). This however, and the absurd pleasure of watching a mulleted Tyrion Lannister trying to score with Serena Williams, is still nowhere near enough to recommend the price of admission.
My advice to any nostalgic gamer, reeled in by the promise of reliving their wasted youth, is to save your silver and spend it in the retro room at Chassis Arcade on Faksegade (chassisarcade.dk). You’ll have more fun there – even if they have a power outage.