Caelestis: Hey, IP! How are you?
Insomnia Princess: I am great, thanks. How are you?
Caelestis: I have been better. I think it’s because I should feel ashamed of being a geek.
Insomnia Princess: That is most unfortunate. What has you feeling this way?
Caelestis: I saw the movie Pixels last week. I think no other movie in recent memory has been more of an insult to geek culture than this. This was truly shameful.
Insomnia Princess: Ouch. That’s bad.
Caelestis: It was. We both went to see it; what did you think about it?
Insomnia Princess: Well, the basic premise of the movie was great. It had so much potential! I recall the first time I saw a preview for it saying, “I have to go see that!” and I am not really a movie buff so I don’t get excited about movies often. Then there is the actual execution of it and well, it was indeed, a letdown.
Caelestis: I agree with you that the basic premise was great: fighting to save the world from hostile video games. You know, this movie was based on a 2010 two-minute film along the same idea. It’s disappointing to think this idea was not only completely squandered but was also not even an original thought from the creators.
Insomnia Princess: The part that has me most perplexed is how they could screw up what should have been such an easy home-run.
Caelestis: Two words: Adam Sandler.
Insomnia Princess: Heh, I was just thinking the same thing.
Caelestis: I don’t know about you, but Adam Sandler encompassed all of this movie’s problems. He was a demonstrably lazy actor. There’s a scene where the eponymous Centipede strikes London and he is there staving it off with a light cannon, sort of like a proton pack. He is in a life-or-death struggle for the fate of the world with a giant, digital monster and he had the most uninterested look on his face. He wore that expression the whole movie. Josh Gad was in that same scene, screaming with exhilaration about how this was the most amazing night of his life, and Sandler was about as invested in this moment as I might be in scrubbing my sink.
Insomnia Princess: I’ve never been a big fan of Sandler in the first place and while this isn’t the worst movie I’ve seen of his, I do agree that his performance was beyond lackluster. At the start of the movie, I thought he was just playing his character (smart guy bored at a menial job beneath his actual potential) but then, as you say, he never changes expression, even in the most rousing situations.
Caelestis: That was bewildering, since I feel like he cut his teeth in comedy playing the irrationally angry man. Instead, he was a dull Geek Squad guy. I’ve heard two different sources say Chris Pratt would’ve been a better fit for the role. At least he would have brought some energy to his performance. It’s bad enough that none of the main characters were likeable without them also being boring.
Insomnia Princess: The female lead was awful. Her character had so much potential and they screwed that up too. But yes, I could see Chris Pratt in the role. Anything is better than Sandler, however.
Caelestis: What did you not like about the female lead?
Insomnia Princess: Are we trying to avoid spoilers here?
Caelestis: No. The only way to spoil Pixels is to go see it.
Insomnia Princess: I felt like they said, “Oh wait, girls play video games too!” and tossed in this female character to be relatable except from the very first scene with her, she’s kind of pathetic. Then we find out she’s actually this super-important-intelligent person who creates all this awesome weaponry they will fight the aliens with and I keep thinking her character will be redeemed but it never really does. When she finally gets the chance to join in the action, it’s still a let down. Nothing at all by way of being a role model for young females. They write her like a genius scientist/inventor but she’s weak and needs a man. Of course this movie had the typical misogyny of an Adam Sandler film so I should not have been surprised.
Caelestis: Speaking of misogyny, was I alone in being perplexed by the presence of Lady Lisa, the red warrior woman? Josh Gad’s character is the stereotypically socially awkward nerd with a crush on a female video game character: in this case, a warrior woman named Lady Lisa. She comes alive toward the end and inexplicably reciprocates his love for her, only for her to disappear when the video games are beaten. Then, for no good reason, Q-bert is transformed into Lady Lisa so Josh Gad can “get the girl.” She is literally referred to as a “trophy,” too, because that is how the video games refer to hostages. Did I mention Q-bert shows up to talk, too?
Insomnia Princess: That entire thing with Lady Lisa was creepy and insulting. The characters even make reference to the weirdness at the end, as if it was supposed to be witty or funny. Then they give us a Shrek-inspired baby Q-bert scene. No. No. No.
Caelestis: And as long as we’re talking about creepy and insulting, the four principal heroes are pathetic. Sandler is, as we said, a dullard with no charm. Josh Gad is a total loser with a number of scenes in which his awkwardness is played for laughs, in the typical strain of Sandler’s films mocking and denigrating other people. Peter Dinklage is a conning cheater whose self indulgence nearly gets the world destroyed. Kevin James is the only one who appears to be aware how goofy everything about this movie is but he shows up at the end wearing a Chewbacca mask to go meet the final boss and I can’t say that’s a terribly rational idea when you are, as he is, President of the United States.
Insomnia Princess: I kept awaiting the scene that told us he was really just a goofy actor playing the President. How did he even become President? He’s a doofus. Again, they took an opportunity to have a strong character and ruined it. It’s not funny or charming. It’s just annoying.
Caelestis: Ha ha, now that would have been much funnier! As it turned out, none of the characters were people you could root for at all, but then I’m told that the 3D analogues of pixels are voxels, so we perhaps should have gone in with lower expectations if the movie should’ve been called Voxels instead of Pixels. I mean, if you can’t get the name right, this movie’s fallen at the first hurdle, hasn’t it?
Insomnia Princess: Ah, very good point! Speaking of expectations, this movie was marketed like a kids movie and I was expecting a Wreck-It-Ralph feel to it but it fell short in so many ways. Parents should also be aware of the language and sexual innuendo since some might not be okay with young children picking up on that. The jokes are aimed at adults but as we said, they’re not funny and overall, the movie has some really slow, dull parts that are sure to bore all ages.
Caelestis: Since you mention it, Wreck-It-Ralph might be lumped in with a recent trend in films that we’ve seen since 2010. Scott Pilgrim Versus the World, Guardians of the Galaxy, Wreck-It-Ralph, and Pixels are all part of this wave of the celebration of the 80s geek culture. Unfortunately, Pixels demonstrated how to do it completely wrong.
Insomnia Princess: Indeed. Come for the nostalgia, leave disappointed.
Caelestis: Agreed. So, IP, final thoughts?
Insomnia Princess: Yes, if you’re thinking of seeing this movie, save yourself the time, money, and annoyance. Instead, watch the short film that inspired the movie, then put on some 80s tunes and enjoy your favorite video game for an hour and 44 minutes.
Caelestis: Make no mistake: this movie was terrible but it featured Hall and Oates at the end, so 11/10.
Insomnia Princess: You know I heard from a very trusted source they did that just for you, Cael. 🙂
Caelestis: At least they knew their audience. 😉
Insomnia Princess: That’s right!