It seemed like a home run for Adam Sandler. The trailer for “Pixels” came out in March and broke Sony’s record for the most-viewed trailer in its first 24 hours ever.
Adapted from a two-and-a-half minute short film with the same title, “Pixels” is about classic video games from the 1980s being controlled by aliens who want to take over Earth. And only the games’ best players (played by Sandler, Kevin James, Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad) can stop them.
This premise seemed perfect for Sander’s brand of comedy (his production company Happy Madison is behind the film). But it turns out even silly 8-bit characters from the past can’t revive the former SNL star’s career.
“Pixels” has a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and it’s shaping up to become Sandler’s latest box office bomb.
Here’s why critics are ripping it apart.
(Warning: Some spoilers ahead)
People who have seen the movie say the CGI work in it is done very well. It grabs famous 1980s touchstones like Hall & Oates interview clips and Max Headroom (which the aliens use to communicate to Sandler and his gang), but sadly things go down hill from there.
Variety called it a “barrage of witless one-liners” with “inane celebrity cameos.”
“If only the movie in front of us actually fit that description, or truly conveyed the addictive pleasures of gaming,” Variety lamented.
Uproxx complains that Adam Sandler doesn’t get what audiences today think is funny.
“The problem is, Sandler can still be a likable and emphatic actor, but if he’s given any creative control, it will bring the movie down because Sandler’s sense of humour over the years has become terrible,” Uproxx says. Ouch.
ScreenCrush isn’t much nicer. “Adam Sandler used to make comedies,” the reviewer wrote. “Now he makes Adam Sandler movies; bland exercises in nostalgia where he hangs out with his actor buddies, cracks a few jokes, and sleepwalks through a forgettable story to the sounds of early ’80s rock.”
About.com says Sandler is trying to reinact a watered-down version of his glory days. “The low points come when you realise that despite having a real director, Sandler is still Sandler here — a regular guy who happens to be awesome, catnip to the ladies, a hero so unlikely that NYPD and NYFD cheer him.”
The Hollywood Reporter calls it “sometimes mildly amusing.
“With the exception of Monaghan, who seems like a beautiful member of some other species amid this ragtag bunch of comics and slumming character actors, everyone here is doing shtick they have long since mastered, underplaying in Sandler’s case, to sometimes mildly amusing effect…”
But critics say Sandler isn’t the only reason the movie is unwatchable. The movie, directed by Chris Columbus (“Home Alone,” “Mrs. Doubtfire”), in itself is uninspiring:
A Vulture actually scribbled down, “‘Am I high right now?” while watching the movie.
“Don’t get too excited: The film is bad — worse even than it looks, probably — but by that point it had achieved such throwaway weirdness that instead of staring stone-faced at how bland and unfunny it all was, I found myself giggling at its sheer idiocy,” the writer said.
The Daily News also placed blame on Columbus who says he and Sandler “bury that warm feeling [for 1980s video games] under moronic jokes, lame action, drooling for “hot chicks” and sad-assed, middle-aged neuroses.”
But no matter how terrible critics say “Pixels” is, you can bet Adam Sandler movies will continue to churn out:
“Sandler is following his own rules: Every year, he’s gotta star in an expensive, anti-intellectual gasbag that anoints him the Best Boy in the World,” a disgruntled LA Weekly reporter pens. “And audiences are running out of quarters.”
If you don’t believe them, feel free to check out “Pixels” yourself. It opens in theatres Friday.
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