PIXELS is yet another Adam Sandler vehicle penned by pal Tim Herlihy that waxes nostalgic about the 1980’s. This time around the focus is on classic video games from the arcade era. Sam Brenner (Sandler) and his buddy Will Cooper (Kevin James) ride their bikes up to the town’s brand new video arcade and sink dozens of quarters into the golden hits of the time including Pac-Man, Centipede, Defender, Asteroids, & Donkey Kong. Soon they realize Sam has a gift for following the patterns and racking up all the high scores in the arcade. Will decides that Sam should enter the big video game championship hosted by Dan Akroyd in cameo. This is where Sam meets his rival, Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage) or as he would prefer, “The Fireblaster!” They also meet Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad), a younger boy without any friends who is just a bit eccentric. The whole contest is going to be video-taped and sent in a rocket to space among other things in the hope that aliens may find it one day as a time capsule of what Earth life was like circa 1982. Sam is able to best Eddie at just about every game except Donkey Kong, and winds up in second place.
Fast Forward to the present day, Sam is a Tech geek (think Geek Squad), and Will is the President of the United States….go figure. Sam shows up to house to install multi components and finds out from a boy named Matty that his mother is recently divorced what do you know it, she’s hot. Sam is attracted to her, she is not attracted to him, if you’ve ever seen an Adam Sandler movie you know the answer to how this will end up. Sam must leave to speak to President Will urgently and somehow is followed there by the love interest, Violet. Well wouldn’t you know it, Violet happens to be a Lt. Colonel with high security clearance. Turns out they were both summoned because the Earth is under attack by alien Voxels (3D pixels) which have taken the form of enemies from the game Galaga. Ludlow now living as a conspiracist, reaches out to Sam and explains that he thinks it is because of the video tape sent to space, and has intercepted a message coded in footage from old celebrities of the 1980’s era such as Madonna, and Hall and Oates. Basically they have three lives and have already lost one, two more and Earth gets destroyed. President Will has Violet and her team working on weapons/gadgets that can fight them, and uses Sam and Ludlows’ knowledge of classic games to help train the military to fight off the next attack. They may have the muscle and the weapons for when Centipede shows up, but they don’t have the timing down like Sam does. Quickly he springs into action to save the day, but realizes he can’t do it alone. They must call on The Fireblaster to help them. Now languishing in prison he has some demands including a full pardon if he is to help.
Tied up with the Voxels at one life a piece, they must work together to defeat the aliens. Will they succeed? Can they trust Eddie to help them when they need it most? This film is chock full of hilarity for kids and adults alike, masterfully directed by Chris Columbus of Home Alone and Harry Potter fame. With cool special effects and nostalgic sound effects throughout this film more fun than I anticipated it to be and recommend it whole-heartedly. My advice: spring for the pricier 3D viewing…it’s worth it!