At its core, Pixels is very very unique. We start off in 1982 when a young Adam Sandler and a young Kevin James are hanging out at their local arcade. ’80s tunes are blaring in the background and everything. It’s a great opening. Sandler’s character, Sam Brenner, competes in the arcade game world championship. A time capsule with footage of the competition is to be sent into outer space in hopes that alien life will find it and learn about our culture. Flash forward to present-day where James’ character, Will Cooper, is now the President of the United States and Sam is just an electronics repair guy. But Earth is in jeopardy as these aliens who found the footage see it as a declaration of war between planets and send in ’80s arcade characters to attack Earth. President Cooper must now call upon his arcade-wiz friend to advise him in how to defeat these video games.
Besides its originality, it’s deep cast of characters provides us with a lot of laughs and humorous situations. But it remains as exactly that–a comedy. The action sequences are mostly pedestrian, as well as few and far between. Although it’s a great break from the over-self-importance of most other action films nowadays, don’t expect Mad Max either.
The film’s true downfall is the fact that it leaves nothing to mystery. There isn’t anything left to be uncovered. Everything that needs to be revealed is done so early on, and the only thing that we have left to question is whether or not Earth will win. But we can obviously predict the answer to that.
Despite its fresh concept, it doesn’t do as much as it can with it. With a better script it could have been an instant-classic, but now we see it as merely a comedy that doesn’t seem to have a grip on action. It’s full of plot holes and sloppy inaccuracies with chronology. And there isn’t really any depth or character attachment. We are so far away from worrying about the characters that it just becomes all about the ’80s references and jokes.
But it’s popcorn entertainment–consistent in its narrative and keeps us laughing the whole way through. It’s as harmless as they come.