When trailers first broke for mid 2015 Adam Sandler vehicle Pixels I immediately was overwhelmed with trepidation.
On one hand it was an Adam Sandler movie. Sandler hasn’t made a truly funny movie in longer than I can remember…I think Click might have been the last “hilarious” Sandler flick but truthfully you might have to go back to the Waterboy/Billy Madison/Happy Gilmore era.
On the other hand trailer gives the appearance of a movie full of loving references to 80s gamer culture. Plus the trailer showed that Peter freaking Dinklage would be in it and as anyone who watches Game of Thrones knows, Mr. Dinklage is entertaining as hell.
But as you may well know appearances can be deceiving and thankfully I sat this one out while it was in theaters and found myself watching it on a whim this past weekend.
Rarely have I been so happy to have not spent my hard earned money in the theater.
To give credit where credit is due, the movie is not the worst thing I’ve ever seen so I’ll refrain from such hyperbolic speech.
Truthfully the movie has a few good chuckles in it, not full blown belly laughs but there are a few jokes that land in the snicker or slightly smile range.
Lack of hilarity aside, the biggest problem with the movie is the problematic manner in which the goofy subject matter is handled.
Remember how I said the trailer appeared to show a movie that lovingly showcased 80s gamer culture? Well 80s gamer culture (and gamer culture in general) is shown but in the most condescending way possible. Sure there are classic video game characters aplenty, from Pac-Man to Donkey Kong to Frogger and Mario but the movie relishes in reminding the viewer that gamers are losers. Joke after joke drives home that people who play games are destined for dead end, service industry work as Sandler’s character (a runner up in a world arcade championship) is an entertainment center installer while the man who beat him (Dinklage) is a felon. Sandler’s best friend, who happens to suck at video games grows up to be President of the United States and that is as subtle as the movie is capable of being.
Again and again gamers are called losers. It is stated that the skill set developed by their beloved hobby is worthless. Gamers are weird. Gamers have no future. The message is repeated to the point of nausea.
As I watched the film I couldn’t help but wonder why the writers were so mercilessly attacking the very people who should be their target audience.
There is even a character shown in his youth to be hopelessly enamored with a video game heroine and as an adult finally gets to meet the personification of this character. Oddly enough after she just came within a hair of murdering him he states that she is her fiance.
Sadly that wasn’t the worst of it because after, spoiler, the hapless team of loser gamers saves the world one of the trophies left behind by the defeated aliens in the form of Q*bert suddenly shape shifts into the aforementioned heroine and the creepy guy awkwardly devours her face.
In case you missed it, the lesser of the two “strong” female characters, the bad-ass warrior woman is LITERALLY reduced to a baby making trophy for an awkward, socially stunted supporting character (and don’t get me started on the only other female character of any significance repeatedly falling into the shrew-ish, bitch cliche).
The writers of this movie missed the mark so badly the actually made David Goyer’s She-Hulk as a big green porn star/comic book fans are virgins comments look brilliant by comparison.
Before I continue on, let me just say avoid this movie. If you’ve made it this long without watching this garbage save yourself the money and the valuable time and just don’t bother with it.
And if you’ve already seen it, you have my sincere empathy. If you need someone to express the pain you are feeling after watching this my inbox is always open. Trust me my friend when I say you aren’t suffering alone.
Fingers crossed Ready Player One ends up being the loving homage to nerd culture we actually deserve.