Usually the most half-assed and pointless part of any modern movie are the stale, generic CG effects. "Pixels" flips that script and creates a visual style that is entirely unique with lovable and exciting digital creatures that will wow audiences of all ages. Then the movie casts Adam Sandler and pals in the lead roles, meaning that every aspect about the story, the comedy, and the characters will be lifeless and depressing. So "Pixels" is a unique experience where I spent half the movie in pure agony, with my hands clenched white knuckle onto my theater arm rests and my eyes shut begging the higher powers of the universe that I only vaguely believe in to end my suffering, but then felt something that was almost like joy when Adam Sandler shut up and let the animators do their jobs. No, this is a not a good movie.
That Adam Sandler stopped caring about anything roughly around the second act of "You Don't Mess with the Zohan" is not a new revelation. Sandler has made his character from "Funny People" literal. Hell, I already reviewed "Jack and Jill" which proved beyond all doubt that he cares nothing about anything. And yet even though anybody who cared about film saw through Adam Sandler's thin veneer long ago, he still makes roughly twenty movies a year and almost all of them turn a profit. I don't review Adam Sandler movies very often not only because his films are unwatchable on any level but also because his existence turns me into the worst kind of misanthropic asshole. If you ever needed proof that ultimately the average theater goer does not care about quality, Adam Sandler is it. He is one of their own: aging, lazy, and irrationally proud of ignorance and mediocrity. From there it is only a few short steps to deciding that all of Western civilization has failed. That's how bad Sandler's movies are: don't examine them too closely or else you'll find yourself in Montana writing manifestos while stocking up on ammunition, fertilizer, and underage child brides.
"Pixels" is probably the best Adam Sandler vehicle in years if only because at this point he has become too lazy to even be a proper lead anymore. He stopped trying to devise wacky characters for him to play ever since "Jack and Jill", instead defaulting to basically playing a wish-fulfillment version of himself. Sandler gave up on any attempt at arcs or development in his characters. Slowly he has been having less and less screentime in his own movies to allow his entourage of charity-case comic actors like Kevin James* to take up the slack. "Pixels" is about 20% Adam Sandler, 10% Kevin James, 30% Josh Gad, 20% Peter Dinklage, and 20% Q*bert - I listed them in ascending order of funniness, by the way. But every character in this movie is horrible, and "Pixels" would have been better served as a short film of nothing but CG characters destroying the world (as it was before Happy Madison got their hands on it). If there is any enjoyment to be found here, it is months later once "Pixels" is out on video, where you have a fast forward button to skip past the zombie-eyed comedians dishonest attempts at entertainment to watch the parts with actual spark and imagination.