August 18, 2015
Family Film Blogging: Pixels
Posted by Christine Hurt

Sigh.  Let's recap the very disappointing summer blockbuster movie season.  The best movie by far was Inside Out, with Marvel offerings (Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man) having respectable showings and moving the Marvel Cinematic Universe story forward.  After that, Jurassic World was enjoyable, and a few other movies seem to have good showings, but I haven't seen (that Mission Impossible movie).  However, many movies had great build-ups but extremely poor showings (MinionsFantastic Four reboot that we just said no to).  But I don't think any movie had as much going for it with such poor execution as Pixels.

The insatiable appetite that today's parents have for '80s nostalgia has given rise to some pretty great movies that both kids and parents have enjoyed:  Wreck-It RalphThe LEGO Movie).  The trailer for Pixels seemed to suggest that this movie would succeed in the same ways.  The set-up:  In 1982, a time capsule made up of video arcade games and other '80s memorabilia was set into space.  Now, inhabitants of another planet have found this time capsule and -- this is fuzzy -- believe that the games are an invitation to actual battle.  So, the space aliens have created weapons that appear as old arcade games:  Centipede, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, etc.  The inhabitants of Earth have to catch on and fight back somehow or be annihilated.  The only people that can save Earth are the video game champions of yesteryear.

That sounds good, actually.  And the effects that are shown on the trailer look really cool.  And the parts of the movie showing the arcade battles are actually really cool.  But that part of the movie is about 15%.  The remaining 85% is pure, unadulterated drivel.  So much that you want Congress to pass a law saying that Adam Sandler should not be allowed to make movies anymore.  Or, at least with Kevin James.  Or, at least if the movie isn't animated and about a vampire.

The screenplay adds in some horrible content and worse dialogue.  The video game champions are now an overaged "geek squad" employee, a prison inmate, a living-in-Grandma's basement-type conspiracy theorist, and the President.  Yes, the President.  Add in a recently divorced weapons designer/scientist Colonel in the armed forces who happens to be gorgeous and you have the makings of some truly horrible scenes.  Oh, and Q*Bert, who did better work in Wreck-It Ralph.

How bad was it?  The seven year-old asked to leave.  He lives on an appetite of horrible kids' television, but even he realized that this movie crossed all the borders of watchability.  My husband really wanted to leave.  We stayed, and we are dumber for it.

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