CGB Review of Pixels (2015)

I now understand why so many people hate this movie.

This is my review of Pixels!

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In Pixels, Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler) is a former video game champion turned home-theater installer who gets involved in a war between planet Earth and aliens who have misinterpreted video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war.
I remember the wave of scatching reviews that came out after the movie opened.  If you go on Rotten Tomatoes and type in “Pixels,” you will see its 17% score and a plethora of negative reviews.
So is it really 17% awful?  Well, yes and no.  I say this because Pixels is the boring kind of bad.
At least with Aloha, Pan and Fant4stic Four, I had a plethora of grievances to rant about.  Those movies made me mad and were painful to sit through, but they were never boring.

The biggest problem with this film is that the main characters should have been children.  Take out the military and Kevin James being President of the United States (yes, that is a thing that happens) and just have four twelve-year olds instead of forty-somethings going up against pixelated antagonists.   Sure, it would feel like “The Goonies” crossed with “Super Mario Brothers,” but I have a feeling that it would be a far better movie than this.
However, if the script demands that the main characters be adults, then they should have been YouTube Let’s-Players or, at the very least, professional video game players.  It shouldn’t be too hard to create characters based off of real life Let’s-Players like Markiplier and PewDiePie.  This would make the characters feel more modern and less insulting to gamers. Instead Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage are all annoying nerd stereotypes of what people think gamers are.
The reason Pixels is boring is because the “comedy” is stale.  With the exception of one or two jokes that got me to chuckle, the majority of the comedy is misplaced.  Look, Mr. Sandler, having a nine-year old boy casually talk about how his father cheated on his mother with a nineteen-year old yoga instructer and has since left the family is not funny.  If Pixels was written as a dark comedy, then I could see the humor, but this is a bouncy, slapstick adventure, so jokes about serious subjects aren’t going to work.

Between this and “The Cobbler,” I think I’ve figured out why current Adam Sandler movies don’t work.  It is because all of his movies are concepts, not fleshed-out stories.  When you are planning out a story, your concept is the basic premise; “Pixelated characters attack the world,” “Boy goes to magical school,” “Monkey washes a cat,” and so on.  The job of a writer is to take said concept and turn it into a cohesive story with a beginning, middle and end.  If you have a concept and just roll with it without figuring out how it flows as a story, then you’re going to end up with Pixels: A sad and boring flick riddled with tired clichés and stereotypes.

CGB Review of The Cobbler (2014)

I would love to step into the shoes of someone who didn’t have to watch this movie.

This is my review of The Cobbler!

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The Cobbler tells the story of Max Simkin, a New York cobbler who can quite literally step into the lives of his customers by fixing their shoes with a magical stitching machine and then wearing the shoes.
Have you ever watched a movie that was meant to be a short film, but was then auctioned off to a drunk guy and given the budget for a feature film?  Yeah, that’s this movie.

The Cobbler suffers from the same problem as Fant4stic Four; it’s a story that is given to the wrong director teamed up with the wrong actor and is filmed in the wrong format.  Fant4stic Four shouldn’t have been dark and gritty, and The Cobbler should have been animated and NOT starring Adam Sandler.
Why do I say that The Cobbler should have been animated?  Well, for one, the musical score belongs in an animated flick.  In a live-action movie, the bouncy musical score is obnoxious.  It doesn’t make my ears bleed, but it sure as heck isn’t The Imitation Game soundtrack!  Also, the entire premise would have worked better if done by Pixar or Illumination (the folks behind the Despicable Me franchise).

I get the feeling that this movie is desperate to be “Amelie” without having a proper understanding of the “Amelie” story formula.  Granted, I didn’t like “Amelie,” but I have respect for that film.  Why?  Because it was self-aware.  You see, “Amelie” was structured as a modern-day fairy tale.  Early on, it established itself as a whacky, offbeat universe.  The music, costume and the color palate matched the vibe of the film.  Amelie Poulain had neurotic parents, an odd upbringing and was a little strange herself, so it was easier to go along with the whimsy of her saga.
Meanwhile, The Cobbler takes none of those necessary steps to classify itself as a modern-day fairy tale.  The film’s tone is very indecisive, as if the filmmakers couldn’t decide if The Cobbler should be a quirky comedy or a character study that features a magic stitching machine.

For an Adam Sandler movie, he has very little to do.  All he does is look sad, mention his absent father who walked out because–potatoes–and put on shoes.  That’s pretty much it for his performance.  As for the other actors, they don’t have much to work with.  Here’s an example: Method Man plays a gangster.  In his first scene with Sandler, he’s a chill guy.  However, in the second act, he does a 180 and become unrealistically nasty.  Gangster doesn’t equal automatic hothead.  There’s a way to write the gangster archetype correctly.  Just go watch Black Mass if you want proof of this.

I had this movie playing on Netflix while working on the study guide for my upcoming Sign Language quiz.  The Cobbler is so not engaging that I got more enjoyment out of writing, “17% of people in the United States classify as hard-of-hearing” and “90% of Deaf people are born to hearing parents.”
I envy anyone who never has to hear the uninspired dialogue of The Cobbler.

Saint Zita, pray for us.