The trailer for "Pixels" was promising when it was released, with a high concept plot about aliens attacking the earth in the form of old-school video games.
After about 30 seconds that promise turned to skepticism when Adam Sandler and Kevin James showed up.
While I can say "Pixels" does manage to be the best Adam Sandler film in this decade, that doesn't mean it is good. Despite a few inspired moments, and the presence of Peter Dinklage, this is your typical Sandler film that his Happy Madison production company has churned out the last 15 years or so.
Sandler players Sam Brenner, a 1980's video game champion who is now a slacker working as a guy who installs home theaters.
Brenner gets a chance to put his past talents to use when the world is attacked by aliens that have mistaken a time capsule video as an act of war and responded with an attack using various games from the 1980's.
Desperate to thwart the attacks President Will Cooper (James) turns to his lifelong friend Brenner and several other old-school arcaders (Dinklage and Josh Gad) for assistance.
Director Chris Columbus does a nice job with throwing in plenty of nostalgia for anyone who grew up in the arcade era, with a few clever visual jokes.
The premise has promise, but the script too often strays from what works and gets sidetracked with typical Sandler man-child issues, cameos from all his friends, and a completely unbelievable romantic side plot between Brenner and a recently divorced military officer named Violet Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan, who has zero chemistry with Sandler).
James is about as believable as the president as Donald Trump, while Gad has a few moments here and there but nothing that really stands out.
Dinklage is the one saving grace, a narcissistic gamer who is obsessed with Serana Williams and Martha Stewart (a fact that leads to one of the film's best gags).
"Pixels" needed more Dinklage and less Sandler and his pals and then perhaps the film could have delivered on its intriguing potential.