The film begins in 1982, where a young Sam Brenner (Anthony Ippolito), a videogame extraordinaire, finds himself competing in a videogame championship against his pompous rival, Eddie Plant (Andrew Bambridge). He is there with best friend Will Cooper (Jared Riley) and the pair meet Ludlow Laminsoff (Jacob Shinder), a strange young boy obsessed with Lady Lisa, the beautiful main character of a game called Dojo Quest. Despite a close race, Eddie ends up beating Sam on Donkey Kong and wins the tournament, but the most important point is the fact that portions of the tournament were videotaped and the cassette was sent into space as part of a time capsule initiative.
Fast-forward 30 years and Sam (Adam Sandler) is an electronics installer, while his best friend Will (Kevin James) is the President. While on a job, Sam meets Violet Van Patten (Michalle Monaghan), a recent divorcee who lives with her precocious son Matty (Matt Lintz), and Sam and Violet share a weird but sweet moment that ends abruptly when Sam is summoned to the White House, as is Lt. Col. Violet Van Patten, unbeknownst to Sam. It seems a military base in Guam has been attacked.
The weird thing is that the attackers resemble pixelated versions of classic arcade games like Galaga and Centipede and they are pixelating everything in their wake. A message is sent from the attackers using old icons from the 80's stating that there will be three chances for the Earth to survive and it requires beating the attackers at their own game. Who better to call on than Will's old friend and classic game expert, Sam? Once Sam and Will see what they are up against, they enlist old friend Ludlow (Josh Gad) and even reprobate and current prison resident Eddie (Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones) to help them. Every time the space "invaders" attack and win, they take a human trophy, and when the humans win, they get a trophy, most notably an adorable digital version of Q*Bert. Naturally, the most dangerous and fierce battle could only involve Donkey Kong and the trophy at stake is one that Sam, his crew and even Violet don't mind fighting for. It's game on!
Pixels is certainly not a great movie, but it is a fun experience. Sure, it's a little corny at times, but I found myself laughing and having a good time. I especially loved that they not only cast an actor to play the creator of Pac-Man, Professor Toru Iwatani, but the man himself also had a cameo in the film, which is a cool nod.
There are quite a few special features, although most notably missing was a gag reel, considering Sandler, James and Gad star in the film. Maybe they decided to leave that off to keep it more family friendly. However, there are featurettes on all of the games prominently featured, including Dojo Quest, a game made just for the movie and starring Ashley Benson (Pretty Little Liars) as Lady Lisa. There are also two other featurettes that go behind the scenes, plus a music video. None are particularly long, but they are all interesting to watch. Also of note are the cool CG pixels that the attackers leave in their wake and they looked pretty amazing on Blu-ray.
If you are looking for a family-friendly (for the most part) film centered on the videogames of old, check out Pixels. While it won't win any Oscars, it makes for a fun popcorn flick on movie nite.