Friday, July 24, 2015
CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review
ChicagoTribune (K. Walsh) review
RogerEbert.com (P. Sobczynski) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review
Pixels  (directed by Chris Columbus, screenplay by Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling inspired by the short film by Patrick Jean) is honestly an appallingly sexist film.
Yes, it's almost certainly intended (in part) as a "father and 10 year old son" offering, recalling the still necessarily heavily pixelated video games of the early 1980s (when "dad was about 10 years old ...").
But it's also an obviously and stunningly heavy handed (American) Right-Wing fantasy / propaganda piece (seriously, read on), featuring a Republican Chris Christie like President Cooper (played by Kevin James) with a bleached blond morning TV news COOKING SEGMENT running First Lady (played by Jane Krakowski) who stuffs him ...
Pretty much _every single woman_ in the movie is portrayed as "a prize" for the men to win (with President Cooper having already "won" his ...).
Some of these "trophy women" don't even have lines -- Multimillion dollar empire running Martha Stewart (!) as well as a fantasy-warrior "Lady Lisa" (mimed? modeled? strutted? by Ashley Benson) in black high healed boots to the knees, a tight red dress with at least one strap (or else it'd all just fall off ;-) and two Samurai swords -- yup try being a "ninja" in that ;-) -- Why bother your pretty little heads with lines (again, even Martha Stewart), when your "welcoming smiles" / "intense eyes" can "say so much"?
Others, like tennis star Serena Williams and the President's first lady (mentioned above) do have line or two, but are either largely posed in a slinky 1940s-era "jazz queen" dress (Williams) or shown lovingly stuffing her Presidential hubby with cake on a Today Show (or should I say "Fox and Friends") cooking segment. Yes women, you can win Wimbledon six times (!) or reach a Katie Couric like position on TV, but your main job is still to just "look sultry" and/or "stuff your husband"
Even the most substantial woman character in the film NSA / DARPA scientist Lt Colonel VIOLET (?!) van Patton (played by Michelle Monaghan) is introduced as a recent, elegantly dressed "MILF" er "divorcee" living in a house worthy of the set of Desperate Housewives (We're told that she had been recently dumped by her husband who traded her / her 10 year old son in for his 19 y/o. secretary ...).
The film's lead, Adam Sandler's character Brenner (once, "back in the day" video game prodigy now "Nerd Squad" TV installer), comes to her / her 10 y.o. son's house to install their new 70-80 inch flat screen TV with a gaming pack ... Initially, she dismisses him a loser, he her as a ... snob.
But it turns out that they have a mutual friend / acquaintance: Chris Cristie-like "(self-deprecating / weight challenged) man of the people" President Cooper (again interpreted by Kevin James). He had been Brenner's best friend when they were kids (and still "kept in touch") and Violet was one of his Sarah Palin glasses-wearing second-tier "Science advisers" on the National Security Council (she got to sit in the President's Situation Room, but not at the Cabinet's Table ... Again, "know your place people, KNOW YOUR PLACE ...")
Turns out that President Cooper will need BOTH his sexy-"smart-glasses"-wearing science advisor and his once cool / now nerdy BFF 'cause ... By a total fluke, NASA had launched a space probe 1982 to the outer solar system containing a video disk with various snippets of popular culture of the time, INCLUDING snippets of a video-game competition of that time. ALIENS had intercepted the space probe, MISINTERPRETED the videos it contained, and were now ATTACKING THE EARTH in the form of the pixelated video games -- Galaga, Space Invaders, Centipede, PacMan, Donkey Kong -- that they discovered on the disk.
The President needed EXPERTS on those video games of the past -- late 30/40-something y.o. NERDS (Brenner, as well as others, played by Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage) as well as weapons to destroy them (provided by the sexy-but-also-smart scientist Dr. / Lt. Col. Violet van Patten). Much ensues ...
Now this need not have been the appallingly sexist film that it was ... It could have been pretty decent "father and son film." And Brenner along with sexy-mom Lt. Col. Violet's 10 y.o. son Matty (played by Matt Lintz) do hit it off as do, eventually/inevitably Brenner and his hot (but also smart) mom.
But how can one show this to a 8-to-12 y.o. girl today? All the heroes are men and the main contributions of all of the women -- BOTH REAL (six-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams and multimillion dollar empire running Martha Stewart) AND IMAGINED (Dr. / Lt. Col. "Violet van Patton", the "cooking lady" / "First Lady to the President" and the sexy / impossibly impractically dressed "ninja" warrior princess "Lady Lisa") -- are that they can "look sexy" and/or "do domestic things for their men."
Again, how could something like this STILL BE MADE in the United States in 2015? Zero stars.
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