Pixels review: They made this film . . . for some reason

It’s not a bad idea for a movie but underwritten characters and bad dialogue dominate

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Director: Chris Columbus
Cert: 12A
Genre: Comedy
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Brian Cox, Ashley Benson, Jane Krakowski
Running Time: 1 hr 45 mins

So after all the hyperbole of the American reviews and all the "Whither Adam Sandler?" hand-wringing, Pixels (disappointingly) turns out to be ordinarily bad and not even "worst movie ever" bad.

What a gyp.

If anything, the film is a qualitative step-up from Grown Ups 2 and much of the increasingly unlovely product emerging from Mr Sandler's Happy Madison Productions imprint of late. That's not to say that Pixels is worth your time or money. Oh hell, no.

Taking a perfectly fine premise from a 2010 French animated short film of the same name – a premise that seems awfully like the 2002 Futurama episode Anthology of Interest II Pixels sees our planet invaded by characters from classic 8-bit video games, notably Pac-Man and – well, d'uh – Space Invaders.


It's a neat idea for a parody disaster film but it's wholly lost in this melange of underwritten characters and awful dialogue. Everything that happens in Pixels might be rounded off with the words "for some reason". Love interest Michelle Monaghan is crying in a closet . . . for some reason. Kevin James is the president of the US . . . for some reason.

Josh Gad is left to fill the sad sack hole that James normally occupies in a Happy Madison production. Now can someone please give him some funny words to say? No?

That counts double for Peter Dinklage, who is squandered in a role as Sandler’s former video game nemesis. See also Brian Cox and Sean Bean, both of whom work hard with their respective non-roles.

If only the filmmakers had spent as much time writing and developing the film as they did on celebrity cameos: Serena Williams and Pac-Man inventor Toru Iwatani are among the starry twirls . . . for some reason.

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic