Pixels: 8-Bit Busted

You should not go see Pixels. There is not much else to say, but in an effort to not make this the shortest movie review we have ever written here at The NYRD we will endeavor to continue. After all, it could not be any less painful than seeing the actual movie.

Gala-Go Away
This movie has only one goal and one goal alone, to exploit audience nostalgia, and quite frankly that is a major problem. For years now we have endured a slew of  movies that have aimed at making quick money because children of the 80’s and 90’s have the ability to remember things. We are not saying this trend of nostalgia-exploitation is completely bad. The Lego Movie turned out to be a mega hit and the new Ghostbusters movie makes us cautiously optimistic. However, that in itself can be worrying, because for every Chris Pratt-led Lego flick, or Chris Pratt-led dino flick, or Chris Pratt-led anything there is a crushing avalanche of terrible shaky-cam movies about action figures and board games. And then there is Pixels.

This movie’s tortured attempt to grab our nostalgia goes so far beyond any of the sins of Michael Bay, that it almost makes Battleship look like an actual movie, and not just ninety-minutes of explosions, military porn, and terrible terrible stereotyping. References in Pixels do not even make an attempt to be funny, much like Adam Sandler. The movie just seems to think it is enough to show the audience something they might remember and then let it lie, like Ecto Cooler left out on a hot summer’s day. Yes, it brings back memories, but it’s not particularly funny. It’s just filled with wasted potential and sadness, again much like Adam Sandler.

We here at The NYRD are very much children of the 80’s, but lately Hollywood has become very good at insulting our intelligence. For some reason studio executives think the only reason we want to go to a movie like Pixels is because Donkey Kong and Pac Man are a thing. As much as we want to remember the “good ol’ days” there are plenty of unique and new movies out there that can be just as successful -if not more so- than these mutilated attempts of reviving past joys. For example, we do not need a uncaring attempt at a teeny bopper Jem and the Holograms live-action movie. We do not need to see that, and we certainly did not need to see Pixels. However if the movie did anything right, it was casting Sandler in the lead.

Hack Man
Face it, the only reason we go to see Sandler in anything anymore is because Happy Gilmore was a good movie. Billy Madison was a good movie too. The Wedding Singer, Big Daddy, Waterboy, heck we will even give him Click, but that’s it. Sometime in the mid-2000’s Sandler went from an A-list actor on a downward slope to an A-list actor that stopped caring. Every modern performance by the man has been lackluster at best and insulting to audience members at worst. He is the perfect leading man for this distressed flashback of a movie. In essence, he is a walking-talking-unfunny nostalgia meatsicle. Watching him in anything just makes us want to travel back in time to when he was funny.

The creativity of Hollywood is circling the drain as studios believe they can make more money with less risk by doing nothing more than putting a recognizable face into a movie property that has the sole purpose of reminding audience members of better things that happened in the past. Watching Pixels did not make us want to stand up cheer or even smile. Instead, it reminded us that we would rather be watching Wreck-It-Ralph.

At least when the video-gamed themed Pixar movie tackled our nostalgic reminiscence of arcades past we were given something new and refreshing to go along with it, but this movie is none of those things. The script of Pixels is the laziest example of writing to date. The jokes are obvious, if barely there at all. The general premise makes no sense. The characters have very little story-arc, and no endearing qualities. The Waterboy showed more interesting character conflict and that was a movie about a mentally challenged water boy playing football. Even worse when you compare Pixels to a movie like Waterboy you begin to understand that not only did Adam Sandler used to be funny, but that even ridiculous concepts can make good movies. This newest Sandler trainwreck never tried to be a good movie.

We will admit that we enjoyed the idea of Pixels, but really we enjoyed it a heck of a lot more when it was a 12-minute short on Futurama. It may not have made any more sense in cartoon form than on the big screen, but at least when Fry and company did it the jokes were clever and funny. If you are going rip off material, the least you can do is put a little joy into the project, but that is very much lacking in Adam Sandler’s newest Phone-It-In-Comedy. The real problem is that movies like Pixels are becoming the norm and not the exception.

Somebody needs to sit down and have a talk with Hollywood. Their obsession with picking through the graveyard of our collective childhoods needs to stop. We understand that making movies is expensive, and that for studios making an already well known and branded property can seem like a quick and easy to way make some profit, but that philosophy shows a lack of foresight. This trend focuses more on short term gains than long term enjoyment. When a movie’s worth is measured in opening weekend box office profits than all we will ever get are flash in the pan sequels, reboots, and remakes of better movies that came out a decade ago. Making a new Terminator movie may get you a good weekend or two, but what does it really cost us and the franchise in the long run?

For as much as a movie like Jupiter Ascending was criticized -and let us be clear it was a bad movie- at least it tried to do something new and original. Originality is becoming a dirty word in Hollywood and that is a problem, not just for movie-goers but for anyone who identifies as geeks. We Millennials and Generation Xers are responsible for this trend. Yes, we had very good childhoods and if a movie can be done right than that is great, but if we are continuously handed more and more slapped together memory-fests, where the story has no more depth other than, “Hey remember when this was a thing,” then it’s all going to come crashing down around our heads, and hard.

In a way geekdom is built on nostalgia. We like to talk and obsess over the things we love and the things we remember, and this horrible trend in Hollywood is meant to squarely target that aspect of our pop culture, and it is nerds on a whole who will suffer. What studios fail to realize, or do not want to realize, is that nerds will embrace the new as well as the old. Yet, as long as we continue to support movies like Pixels the entertainment industry will never get that message. They will just keep turning out cheap and poorly made movies that resemble objects we had as children, until the backlash becomes so great that we lose the good with the bad.

We need to start refusing to see movies just because they remind us of something better. We need to start telling people like Adam Sandler that we will not let them ruin our stories and our childhoods the way he did his own acting career. It was only just sad when he was cross dressing and using studio money to hang out with his friends. Now that he is threatening to sink our memories, our video games, and the promising career of Peter Dinklage, a line needs to be drawn.

That is why you should not go see Pixels.

The Good
  • Surpringly entertaining CGI
The Bad
  • Unfunny
  • Terrible plot
  • Lazy writing
  • Concept was poorly thoughtout
  • Degrades women as trohpies
  • President Paul Blart
  • No character development
  • Poor poor Peter Dinklage
  • Adam Sandler looked less interested in the movie than the audience


This is the biggest disaster movie of the year, and by that we mean the entire movie was nothing but one big disaster. We question how this ever got made. The only good thing it did was inspire us to go home and re-watch Wreck-It-Ralph. Save your money and your time and watch the Futurama episode this movie was shameless stolen from.

1/10ET the Videogame
Pixels: 8-Bit Busted


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    I’m surprised you didn’t take your point to the other major example of this same trend: Ernst Kline’s new novel Armada.

    • Adam J. Brunner

      That is an excellent point and maybe at some time in the future we may need to write a review on “Armada.” The unfortunate thing about Ernst Cline is that “Ready Player One” is an example of good nostalgia. It is witty, fun, and with enough tongue-in-cheek attitude to keep from taking itself too seriously. It worked as both a young adult book and as a novel for Gen Xers looking to relive their glory days. “Armada” on the other hand, is an example of the type of nostalgia talked about in the article. It is very much memory for memory’s sake, made even worse because Cline is also invoking the nostalgia of his first book as much as any other type. That is especially dangerous in the world of YA literature where the target audience of 14-18 years olds will not get most of the references and pandering to older readers with bland references is never going to work.

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