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Adam Sandler movies are like Captain D’s or a new Nickelback album. Someone is eating there/listening to it, but I don’t know them. Millions continue to consume it despite the lack of quality. Pixels contains all the expected Sandler tropes: Nerd makes good with hottie, an almost comical lack of actual humor, Kevin James. However, it also has one of the year’s best concepts, which is not praise usually attributed to dunderheaded Sandler pics like Blended, Jack and Jill, etc. But Sandler and co. turn this imaginative dynamo into a high-concept Grown Ups, with Kevin James as POTUS. Aliens misunderstand a satellite message sent in 1982 as a declaration of war and send our greatest arcade heroes to conquer us. Galaga, Pac-Man, Centipede and Donkey Kong all wreak pixilated havoc on the planet, and the only people who can stop it are former arcade whizzes (Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage with a mullet and the only funny one, Josh Gad). 

Director Chris Columbus is more competent than Sandler’s usual directorial lackey, Dennis Dugan, but credit for any small success Pixels achieves belongs solely to Patrick Jean, upon whose creative short film this movie is based. Too bad he chose Sandler and them to expand upon it.