Adam Sandler is on a roll — in the worst way possible.
“Pixels” marks his latest dud, which is not only being bashed by critics, it may very well land at the box office with a resounding thud. Sony’s $85 million investment has been downgraded from making an expected $58 million splash opening weekend to a $25 million crash. A 16 percent approval rating from critics counted, so far, on Rotten Tomatoes won’t help much.
With a steady string of recent misfires including “The Cobbler,” “Blended,” “Grown-Ups 2,” “That’s My Boy” and “Jack and Jill,” neither will Sandler’s reputation, or that of his production company, Happy Madison, which is also responsible for director Chris Columbus’ PG-13 science fiction spectacle about aliens turning some of the most popular video game characters from the ’80s against humanity.
TheWrap‘s Inkoo Kang was among the overwhelming majority of critics advising readers against giving Sandler any more money.
“‘Pixels’ is ultimately a thoroughly numbing experience, not least because all the characters are doomed by a psychological flatness more two-dimensional than any arcade-game screen,” Kang wrote in her review. Even by the standards of a B-movie, ‘Pixels’ sinks because Sandler’s nasty, punch-down insult comedy is aimed at anyone who isn’t a “good guy.” Fat guys get fat jokes, female divorcees are generalized as ugly, and one older, supposedly not-hot-enough woman is compared to Gandalf.”
The film based on a viral short may have received early buzz when the first trailer was viewed more than 30 million times in its first 24 hours, but it’s hard to hear the anticipation now with so many critics speaking out against the latest in a long line of disappointments from Sandler.
Here are nine more of the worst reviews floating around the web.
Las Vegas Weekly critic Josh Bell:
“Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company won the rights to turn ‘Pixels’ into a feature film. Sadly, they’ve turned it into an Adam Sandler film, albeit one slightly less lazy and obnoxious than his other recent efforts. Of course, calling ‘Pixels’ one of Sandler’s better movies is like calling a particular strain of Ebola somewhat less horrifically painful; either way, it’s not pleasant.
New York Daily News critic Joe Neumaier:
“Every joke is lame, every special effect unspecial. When the aliens use various Reagan-era pop-cultural artifacts, such as Max Headroom and Madonna, to deliver messages, it’s not even worth a smirk. Just as bad are the Sandler specialties the movie is shoehorned around. Forget Columbus; this is a one-player game. All the Sandler signposts are here: moronic middle-ager wins over attractive woman; kid looks up to the doofus as a role model; people make up nicknames based on appearances. As for Sandler himself, he shlumps around so lazily he’s like a Robotron.”
Salon critic Andrew O’Hehir
“[‘Pixels’] is more than just another lazy Adam Sandler movie in which he is actually the coolest guy in the universe but badly misunderstood (especially by the ladies). It is also another lazy Adam Sandler exercise in ’80s nostalgia in which, blah blah blah. Ladies, please! Form a line.”
Deadspin critic Will Leitch:
“This would seem to be either a) a clever idea for a short film, but not enough to sustain a feature film, or b) in the hands of an adventurous director and cast, perhaps a way to mine our cultural obsession with nostalgia, and how it might connect with our conflicted relationship with technology. But a terrible idea–an immediate way to disembowel the whole concept, in fact–is to hand it over to the Happy Madison crew and just let them dick around with it. Adam Sandler and his crew are the only people who could put less thought and effort into a 100-minute feature film than the original filmmaker put into a two-and-a-half-minute short.”
The Verge critic Bryan Bishop:
“As executed, it’s like Contact meets Armageddon meets sticking knives into my eyes, but what’s most frustrating is that, philosophically, the concept is actually intriguing. There’s something about the idea of our own recycled pop culture coming back to do us in that feels timely and unique, a meta commentary on the sad state of reboots and ultra-franchised everything. But that would require some daring, or at least some basic situational awareness, and Pixels can’t be bothered with either.”
New York Post critic Kyle Smith:
“‘Pixels’ started off lazily enough, with nothing more on its mind than ripping off ‘Ghostbusters’ with video game characters. But it stumbled onto an accomplishment truly awe-inspiring: It makes ‘Battleship’ and ‘The Watch’ look good. Hiding Adam Sandler’s participation on the poster of the film is understandable, but the studio should have taken the logical next step and made the entire film disappear, or at least have shot it off into space like the clips of 1982 pop-culture highlights which, in ‘Pixels,’ are seen by aliens.”
Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers:
Director Chris Columbus surely hopes that today’s teen gamers, hooked on Halo and Call of Duty, will care about what happened 30 years ago. That’s iffy, unless 13-year-olds think it’s a scream when Dinklage asks to be part of a sex sandwich with Serena Williams and Martha Stewart, who both do cameos. Yikes! I saw Pixels as a 3D metaphor for Hollywood’s digital assault on our eyes and brains. Not funny. Just relentless and exhausting.
Associated Press critic Sandy Cohen:
“The core concept is clever — space aliens misunderstand a recording of old video-games as a declaration of war, and send digital monsters based on those games to Earth as their army. But its execution in the hands of director-producer Chris Columbus and star-producer Adam Sandler is a mess. This disappointing comedy falls apart before it begins because no one would behave the way its characters do, and their ridiculous choices drive the action.”
Mashable critic Jordan Hoffman:
“‘Pixels’ is a can’t-lose formula. Take the basic premise from ‘Galaxy Quest’ but swap out ‘Star Trek’ with retro video games, throw in some nifty special effects and what could possibly go wrong? Three words: Adam F#%&ing Sandler… In scene after scene, Sandler’s bozo loser schtick brings Pixels to a screeching halt. As the high concept is gaining momentum on one end (aliens from space misinterpreting our gaming classics as a call to war!), Sandler is hogging the screen with his humiliatingly unfunny self-confidence conflict and love interest arc. The silence, where there was supposed to be laughter, made the screening I attended uncomfortable.”