PIXELS Review — Good for a Giggle

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Pixels ReviewBy Lisa Johnson Mandell

My critic colleagues will probably drum me out of the “union” for trashing Trainwreck and Paper Towns but touting Pixels. So be it. When you watch a movie through the eyes of its intended audience, you see things a little differently.

Pixels is intended as a film for younger kids to watch with the parents who played the old school video games in their youth, and it’s good, clean fun for both demos. I know this because my nephews, ages 12, nine and six, couldn’t wait to see it with their dad, who just hit 40–and he couldn’t wait to take them. They were especially excited because they heard that Adam Sandler takes a break from his traditionally raunchy patter, and Josh Gad, who they all loved as Olaf, has a major roll. But won’t kids be clueless about pixelated video games like Pac Man, Donkey Kong and Space Invaders? I wondered. No, they assured me. Kids love to play those games on their tablets and phones, and parents love that they’re playing them, rather than more violent, sexy games like Grand Theft Auto and Halo. The only thing that could top this, in their eyes, is a Minecraft movie.

The premise is kind of funny and familiar in a Ghostbusters sort of way. An oddball team of nerds bands together to fight against invading video game characters, sent by inhabitants of a planet whose population thought they were being challenged when they found video of an 80’s gaming competition sent into space in a time capsule. I was highly amused by the concept of having a chubby gamer growing up to be President of the United States, played by Kevin James. Sandler, Gad,  Michelle Monaghan and Peter Dinklage make up the rest of the team, and there are fun cameos from Brian Cox, Sean Bean, Jane Krakowski, Dan Aykroyd and Lainie Kazan, among others.

Many people expect more from director Chris Columbus, the same guy who brought us Goonies, Home Alone and a couple of Harry Potter movies, but I have to say he gave me more than I expected. An amusing trip down memory lane for me, and good, old school fun for the kids. Who’s complaining?

Rated PG-13

1 Hour 46 Minutes

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PIXELS Review — Good for a Giggle

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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