Pixels
PG-13
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: +2

Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage. Sci-Fi action comedy. Directed by Chris Columbus.

FILM SYNOPSIS: When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games. And it’s up to video game geeks from the 1980s to save the day.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Those of us who contemplate the future of mankind with pessimism do so due to the enslavement of our youth by all things electronic. The argument goes, handheld gaming devices cause you to think and react quickly. Maybe, but I’m not sure that counters the distraction factor. People who play the equivalent of video games all day long are prone to look down most of the time, ultimately paying little attention to what’s going on around them and around the world. Big mistake.

Now, from what I’m told, this new age of play-time consumption began long ago with the arrival of the Atari 2600. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong and their offspring forged a Star-Trek-like world of imagination wherein nerds (I say that with affection) needed no one else. While their dads read Playboy, a new generation was finding gratification via their god-like grip on a device that controlled the fate of…pixels.

But while this Orwellian world of iPad gaming goes bravely into an uncharted CGI universe, corporate Hollywood still depends on product from “the good old days” in order to maintain its industry of entertainment. As with each of this decade’s summer movie crop, their creators depend on past TV shows (Mission Impossible), movies (Jurassic Park, Terminator), comic books (Batman, Superman, Fantastic Four), and video games as source material.

My contempt for the electronic world is showing, I know, but I will surprise you with my take on this film’s concept: it’s clever, it’s fun, and it’s even witty…occasionally.

The positives of the production can be attributed to a past star, Adam Sandler (stepping up his game here), and a past filmmaker, Chris Columbus, (Goonies, Gremlins, Home Alone), who recaptures his cleverest games. Together, and with a fine supporting cast and crew, they incorporate a creative humor that doesn’t rely on crudity. It’s silly, but fun (mostly).

I suspect that younger viewers will miss many of the ‘80s references (any of you know who said “Where’s the beef?). And though there are some involving moments, several of the gags that should have been funny…aren’t. It’s not the oldness of subject those jokes are generated from that causes their failure. I fear it’s the delivery.

Could this film have been made without past blockbuster triumphs like Ghostbusters? Maybe, but those of us who remember bygone comic adventures will no doubt feel a fond nostalgia as we munch on our oily popcorn and stare up at protagonists who save the day just before the concluding “Game over.”

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Columbia Pictures

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: Three or four obscenities and several minor expletives.
Profanity: I caught no misuse of God’s name or Christ’s – take note, that is becoming rare.
Violence: There are several jolting action sequences and a couple of deaths or people being dissolved into pixels - these scenes may disturb little ones.
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None, though we see an overweight guy from the back, bent over exposing some of what no one needs to see.
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Brief beer drinking.
Other: None
Running Time: 105 minutes
Intended Audience: 10 and up

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