Directed By: Chris Columbus

Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Brian Cox, Ashley Benson, and Jane Krakowski

I've really come to despise Adam Sandler movies in recent years.  For some strange reason, however, I held out hope for Pixels.  After all, its premise is more than just Sandler waltzing around screen giving American cinema a bad name.  Pixels is about the characters that laid the foundation of the gaming world we know and love today.  As a millennial, I can recall the days when arcades were popular.  I can recall the days when kids played Nintendo and Sega Genesis.  I can recall the days when Super Mario, Donkey Kong, and Sonic were the central figures in gaming.  As I've been packing to move into my new home in the coming weeks, I've been rediscovering many of their old titles.  With all of this in mind, I came to Pixels with a certain nostalgia.  Of course, Adam Sandler and his fellow cast members soured a delightful childhood memory for me with this atrocious film.

It's 1982.  Thanks to his friend Will Cooper (Jared Riley), a young Sam Brenner (Anthony Ippolito) finds his calling — the arcade.  He's so talented at video games and understanding the patterns that his computerized competition utilizes that Will takes him to compete in the world gaming championship.  Showcasing his ability on the world stage, he lands himself in heated competition with fellow gamer Eddie Plant (Andrew Bambridge).  Their rivalry is so intense that a tie-breaker is needed.  To settle the score, the two are playing Donkey Kong.  To increase the heat, the tie-breaker is being recorded by NASA and is being launched out into space as part of an effort to give any extraterrestrial life a taste of mankind.  Unfortunately for Sam, today is not his day, and he comes up short in second place.

Fast forward to the present, and Sam (Adam Sandler) still finds himself coming in second place.  The former gamer now installs electronics for a living, while his friend Will (Kevin James), also known as President Cooper, is now the leader of free world.  One day after the two longtime friends have lunch, there's an attack on an American base using some light-based technology.  From the radar reviewed by Will, it appears that the battle strategy used against us is that of Galaga.  Slowly, they come to realize that the world is facing the prospect of aliens using the games they love to attack them.  Will calls on his good friend Sam to advise on this matter.  Suddenly, an old skill that's been useless for decades could be the most useful skill in the world.  Along with fellow gamer Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad) and world champion Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage), Brenner is the world's last best hope against this twisted alien invasion.  Meanwhile, Sam quarrels with Lieutenant Colonel Violet van Patten (Michelle Monaghan) with whom he shared wine during a nearly steamy installation.

Pixels had so much potential.  The premise is insanely creative on paper.  The nostalgia is built-in.  The director, Chris Columbus, has more than a few great films to his name (I.e. Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone).  All of this should have been a winning formula.  We should have had one of the most innately charming films of 2015 on our hands.  Instead, we have another miserable outing with Adam Sandler that does nothing but disappoint.  What should have been an awesome film full of memories and great trash talking has turned out to be one bland affair.  Ladies and gentleman, I think it's safe to say that Sandler and team no longer know how to make good movies.

The cast of Pixels is either underwhelming or overwhelming.  There's no middle ground.  For his part as Sam Brenner, Sandler is mostly the former.  There's no spark.  There's no energy.  There's no comedy that brings his performance to life as our lead.  The same can be said for Sandler's on-screen romantic interest Michelle Monaghan.  As Lieutenant Colonel Violet van Patten, Monaghan brings no personality whatsoever to the screen.  She just tries to believably fall for Sandler's character over time (which she fails to do).  For his part as Will Cooper, Kevin James is just the opposite of Sandler and Monaghan.  It's hard to be a convincing or funny world leader sporting a Chewie mask.  The same can be said for Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad in their turns as gamers Eddie "Fireblaster" Plant and Ludlow "Wonder Kid" Lamonsoff respectively.  With their fake accents and desperate acts on screen, both are trying entirely too hard to ever deliver any comedy.

It's safe to say that Pixels disappoints in a very big way.  Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Centipede can't rescue moviegoers from the disastrous clutches of Chris Columbus and Adam Sandler.  Only liquor truly can.  Pixels gets a wasted rating.  You're going to need some kamikaze shots with this one.