Pixels might be the most infuriating, misogynistic, vapid, and tasteless piece-of-sh*t film I’ve seen this year.
I’m aware that criticising Adam Sandler’s films isn’t the most original of critical slants. His career is plagued with Rotten Tomatoes ratings below 20%, with the terrible Jack and Jill ranking lower than the fat content of milk (3%).
In fact, I highly doubt anyone wants to read this review. The Adam Sandler hate is so prolific that when I asked my colleagues to name a good film he’s been in, all they could muster was reluctant mutterings that ‘Happy Gilmore wasn’t terrible’. Hardly a glowing review – and it came with a hint of shame that they managed to think of anything positive at all.
So why am I writing this if no one wants to read it?
The answer: catharsis.
Pixels made me so genuinely angry and frustrated, that upon finding out its Box Office takings were $245 million I wanted to petrol bomb every cinema in my area and commit my life to making Sandler’s existence a living hell. This article is the compromise.
It shouldn’t be this way; on paper, I am the target demographic for Pixels. I’m a young, overweight, single adult male with a penchant for retro gaming and slapstick comedy. When I sat down to watch it, I was fully expecting a fun experience that I’d immediately forget and move on. That would’ve been satisfyingly unremarkable.
Instead, I felt insulted by this film. Ignoring for now the treatment of women and lack of ANY ethnic minorities, this film is insulting to me as its target audience. Ludlow Lemongrab Loganstuff Lamonsoff (Josh Gad) is found spying on his friend and a strange woman from a van that isn’t even his. But I’m meant to identify with him? Sam Brenner (Sandler) unwantedly hits on a woman while she’s crying in a closet and I’m meant to support his romantic pursuit of her? No, I refuse!
Nothing is redeemable about the ‘heroes’ of this film. The figures in which the audience are meant to see themselves are instead twisted funhouse mirrors in which their tear-soaked reflection is masturbating over cartoon women and stuffing pizza down his throat until he’s sick.
Meanwhile women are left with Michelle Monaghan’s rendering of Lieutenant Colonel Violet van Patten as a role model, despite her most interesting feature (by a country mile) being her name. All other female characters are reduced to either pixelated alien sex-slaves or forgettable cameos. I can’t think of a single character that wasn’t white except for Serena Williams‘ bizarre sexualised cameo and the insultingly stereotyped Japanese-inventor cliche of Toru Iwatani (weirdly played by Denis Akiyama, despite Toru himself appearing briefly in the film). The lack of representation is utterly overwhelming and unavoidable.
To be fair, there are two tolerable features of this film.
1. The character of Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage) is actually well-rounded. It’s by no means subtle, but he is initially unlikeable until a redeeming change-of-heart at the end. Unlike Brenner, who never undoes being a gross infantile creep, Plant manages to overcome his cheating ways in a predictable but comparably Shakespearian character arc.
2. The CGI is great. It looks real and it’s got pretty colours. I liked it.
That’s it. Everything else is detestable.
The plot is full of holes and inconsistencies. The performances range from acceptable to terrible. My ability to suspend disbelief was crushed in the first 10 minutes by completely unfunny ‘jokes’ and too many moments of cringe-worthy 80s nostalgia.
I hate this film. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but it offends me more than anything by being so utterly lifeless. Unlike great disaster movies like The Room, this lacks any love or honesty. It’s a corporate cash grab that should be inoffensively average, but instead manages to be insulting to nearly every demographic.
Burn in hell.