(For general information on my movie rating system, especially regarding comedies, click here.)
Two movies in two weekends. I’m on a roll. This weekend it was Pixels. What a perfect geek movie, I must say. Lately, I’ve heard some poor reviews of this film, and of course those opinions are equally as [in]valid as mine, but I found this film surprisingly funny. The Happy Madison projects are usually in the “3-mask” range for me, with a few exceptions. Pixels is definitely one of those; it was much better than I was expecting and got my highest comedy rating. I only had two gripes, and both of these were very minor.
THINGS THAT BUMMED ME OUT
- Misuse of the word “nerds.” I know there’s some debate on this, even among nerds and geeks, etc., but I assert that “geeks” are more socially adept than “nerds.” At least one of the heroes in this movie is certainly a “nerd” (Josh Gad as Ludlow), but the others are most certainly “geeks,” not the least of which is Cooper (Kevin James), who must have SOME level of social competence if he’s the President of the United States! Geeks would know this, and they wouldn’t call themselves “nerds.” (…Didn’t I tell you my gripes were minor?)
- Poorly executed Vulcan Salute. Please observe Mr. Spock. The thumb is always extended out, not pulled in flush with the side of the index finger, and certainly never tucked in! We’re not counting to four! A geek would know this. A nerd would definitely know this. And Ludlow is the very nerd in this movie who does it wrong. Come on, guys.
THINGS THAT CRACKED ME UP
- Nostalgia. Obviously the video game aspects and objectives were very loosely interpreted in the movie, but (1) I don’t judge movies based on how well they translate their source material, and (2) that’s not what this movie’s about anyway. There was a ton of references to the 1980s, not just in terms of the video games, but to the culture as well, including a Weird Science name-drop. We haven’t seen such a geeky reunion on celluloid since Wreck-It Ralph, and it was a lot of fun. High praise as well for the opening and end titles, both of perfectly applied the pixel art and arcade fonts.
- Subtly profound class struggle. Beneath the veneer of stupidity, there’s actually some half-way decent social commentary on the “class struggle” between social groups. It’s not as pronounced (or obtuse) as Revenge of the Nerds, nor is it anywhere near as self-important as Crash, but it’s there all the same: the intellectual battle for societal relevance, embodied as “jocks” v. “geeks”; “military” v. “civilian”; “hawk” v. “dove” mentality, and so on. You don’t really expect much profundity from Adam Sandler and crew, but this time, they sprinkled it in in exactly the right amount to get you to notice it, while still being funny.
- Sharp humor. As they should, the jokes carried the movie all the way. Even if the premise was stupid (which it was) and the plot points were ludicrous (which they were), the characters’ responses to the situations—and the actors’ delivery of the lines—was unbeatable. And I have to admit: I’ve been wary of Adam Sandler ever since Funny People, when I felt like I saw a little bit too much of his real-world, embittered personality, and I liked him less as a result. (Then again, Funny People is a Judd Apatow project, so what else would I expect but to be depressed by that “comedy”?) Anyway, in Pixels, Sandler is sharp and funny again, without having to rely on toilet humor or Saturday Night shtick. And the same can be said of the rest of the cast as well. I mean, if I’m having such a good time that I’m ready to suspend my disbelief and accept that the King of Queens is in fact the President of the United States, then Pixels is setting high scores all over the place.
What did you think of Pixels? Was is as funny as you’d hoped, or did it let you down? Do you think it was an insult to the classic arcade games, or an homage?