What a week for Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions. First, as an appetizer, it offers up the wafer-thin David Spade delicacy Joe Dirt 2 (see review). Now, as the mouthwatering entree, we get Pixels. These truly are glorious times to be a movie lover. Seriously, though, this lazy and cynical one-two punch is about as rank as double features come. Call me old-fashioned, but when you get paid millions of dollars for a gig most folks would kill for, you should at least be able to fake some energy and enthusiasm on screen. But that’s too much to ask of Sandler here. It’s too bad because the film’s retro-cool premise has an undeniable nostalgic pull for anyone who misses the days when you could waste an entire afternoon with nothing more than a roll of quarters, a Big Gulp of Mountain Dew, and an Asteroids machine. Sandler plays one such former arcade wizard who grew up to be a disappointment, but gets a do-over when Earth is attacked by aliens inspired by classic games like Pac-Man, Centipede, and Donkey Kong. It’s a giddy windup, and director Chris Columbus (Home Alone) sweats to give it a joy-buzzer pace. But neither Sandler nor his listless writers (too many punchlines just sit there and collect flies) seem invested. Whether he’s saving the planet or putting the moves on Michelle Monaghan, Sandler can’t be bothered to raise his pulse above comatose. If he doesn’t care, why should anyone else? D+

2015 movie
  • Movie
  • 106 minutes