'Pixels' Movie Review: Is This Your Average Adam Sandler Comedy?

Get the details of the new comedy.

ByDAVID BLAUSTEIN
July 24, 2015, 3:40 PM
PHOTO: This photo provided by courtesy of Sony Pictures shows, Michelle Monaghan, from left, as Violet, Adam Sandler as Brenner, Josh Gad as Ludlow, and Peter Dinklage as Eddie, arriving outside the command center in Columbia Pictures' "Pixels."
This photo provided by courtesy of Sony Pictures shows, Michelle Monaghan, from left, as Violet, Adam Sandler as Brenner, Josh Gad as Ludlow, and Peter Dinklage as Eddie, arriving outside the command center in Columbia Pictures' "Pixels."
George Kraychyk/Sony Pictures/AP Photo

— -- Starring Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad

Two out of five stars

Rated PG-13

Adam Sandler doesn’t care what you think. If he did, "Pixels" would be a meaningful comedy filled with hilarious observations about the world in which we live.

Instead, it’s just every other Adam Sandler comedy you've ever seen, with a "Ghostbusters" filter screwed on.

Sandler plays Sam Brenner, a former world video game champion contender -- and by contender, we mean in 1982, he lost. Fast-forward to now: Sam's 46 and works as a Geek Squad-type home TV installation tech. In an uninspired piece of writing, they essentially replace the word “geek” with “nerd." Sam's work attire includes a shirt emblazoned with "The Nerd," just in case we don't get the point that he's a nerd.

Turns out when we sent a time capsule into outer space in 1982, it included a video of Sam and his pals playing video games, which an alien race mistakes for a declaration of war. Thirty-plus years later, they send an army of those video game characters to destroy Earth -- and of course, only Sandler and his underachieving video game-playing friends can save us.

The first "Pixels" trailer offered a lot of promise, especially if you came of age in the late 1970s and most of the 80s, and you loved video games. Pac-Man gobbling up New York City? Amazing. Peter Dinklage with a mullet? Fantastic! Josh Gad as a Centipede-loving Josh Gad? I’ll take it! A Smurf getting obliterated by Kevin James? Well, OK, but what exactly will Kevin James' role be in this movie? Who cares -- looks like fun!

This is a place where I tell you Kevin James was Sam's video-game loving childhood friend, who grows up to be president of the United States. That's right. Except he's really Kevin James playing every Kevin James character we've ever seen him play.

You know why Leslie Nielsen was so funny as Dr. Rumack in "Airplane!" and as Frank Drebin in the "Naked Gun" movies? Because you believed he really could be a doctor or a cop -- and that made every ridiculous thing that came out of his mouth funny. Kevin James is simply not believable as the president, not for one second, which makes every ridiculous thing that comes out of his mouth merely ridiculous.

But as easy as it is to destroy "Pixels" for being lazy and wasteful of a somewhat interesting concept, I will say this: If you haven’t grown tired of Adam Sandler or Kevin James’ shtick, then you'll probably be entertained. A little. If you're intrigued by the images from the trailer of Pac-Man chomping his way through New York City streets and Centipede attacking from the sky, you'll probably enjoy those scenes.

But if you’re looking for a profound message about pop culture and gaming culture, filled with witty, intelligent dialogue, just remember: This is an Adam Sandler movie, and he doesn't care what you think.

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