Film TV

REVIEW: Pixels

Written by Scott Meridew

Oh Adam Sandler. What happened? You’re a good actor. You’re a funny comedian. Why are you debasing yourself so? Just because you put Peter Dinklage in your movie doesn’t mean that it’s classy. Because it’s not. It’s not classy, it’s not intelligent, and it’s certainly not funny. Do you know what it is? A BLOODY RIP OFF!

Did you think we wouldn’t find out? Did you think we wouldn’t remember? Did you honestly believe that we wouldn’t put two and two together and realise that you stole the plot of a Futurama episode? Do you credit us with so little intelligence? You swine!

Yeah, Sandler once again screwed the pooch. And insulted us in the process. But I for one am taking a stand! I refuse to be cowed, rather I shall stand and be counted! I’m NOT going to review Pixels. That’s right! I don’t care if the title of the article is misleading, I’m not doing it. Just to spite Mr Sandler, I’m going to review the Futurama episode he chose to steal from. Whaddaya think of that Happy Gilmore? Huh? Nothing, that’s right! You got nothing, punk!

So, yeah, Futurama. Possibly one of the best, if not THE best, animated shows in the history of television. If The Simpsons has outstayed its welcome, Futurama is the exact opposite. It went from strength to strength, even after being cancelled. Twice. With seven seasons and four direct-to-DVD films, it continues to be a fan favourite show, beloved by audiences and critics alike. Will Futurama return yet again? It’s uncertain. Matt Groening has asserted that he wants the show to continue, either as a TV show or a theatrical movie, and the cast have all shown their support in that regard. But there’s just no word on whether or not it will continue. Feel sad now.

Still, Let’s talk about the episode in question. Interestingly enough, the story Pixels ripped off is only one of three stories in the episode. Yep, it’s an anthology episode. “Anthology of Interest II”, to be precise. Following on from the last anthology episode, Professor Farnsworth has repaired his “what-if machine”, a device that can visually show you hypothetical scenarios. So for example you asked it “What if Jonathan Frakes spontaneously combusted in a hilarious and painful manner”, it would show you just that. Hey scientists! Put down the microscopes and start working on making this idea a reality! I need to see this!

Three characters ask the machine questions. Bender asks what if he were human? Leela asks what if she found her home (which leads to a Wizard of Oz parody)? And Fry asks, since they are the only thing he’s good at, what if life were more like a video game? This is the second of the three stories, titled “Raiders of the Lost Arcade”, and is the one we’ll be looking at today.

In this segment, the head of Richard “Arooooo” Nixon is signing a peace treaty with Donkey Kong from planet Nintenduu 64. No really. Needless to say, Donkey Kong goes ape-shit (Heh. I’m so clever.) and throws a barrel at Nixon. With the Earth threatened by the Nintendians, Fry is recruited to help defend against them. However, after meeting with General Pac-Man at the MilAtari HQ, they are discovered and are forced to escape (shouting “wakka-wakka” over and over again). Once they get away, they find themselves cornered by Space Invaders, commanded by Lrrr (who is not from Omicron Persei 8 in this story). Fry takes control of a scrolling lazer cannon while listening to Tom Sawyer by Rush (Which is my jam, by the way).

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He defeats all but one of the enemy ships, which he admits he was never able to get when playing the game, and it lands, with several classic arcade game characters disembarking, only one of which I recognised. What? I’m only 23, these games are before my time! What do you want from me? Anyway, it turns out the only reason the Nintendians were invading was because they need change for laundry, which everyone else is unwilling to give them. So they reach a compromise and agree to put the Nintendians laundry in with theirs. The end.

So why’s this story so good? It’s not because of the plot, I tell you that. It’s a very simple plot with not much character development. How could it be anything else? It only had time for a third of the episode. No, this is a good story because it honours its source material. How? By throwing as many funny and interesting references at us as it can. There are a million and one video game gags and they’re all hilarious. I mentioned a few, but there are so many more, I could go on and on about each and every one of them. But you’ll have to watch the episode itself to see them.

So why does this plot work for Futurama but not for Pixels? Well, Futurama didn’t take the idea too seriously. It was supposed to be a silly little story with silly little jokes, and it was fine with it just being that. Pixels clearly took the same idea and tried to present it as somewhat serious. Yeah, I know it’s a comedy, and isn’t trying to be anything else, but this idea can’t work for a feature length movie. At least not in the way they did it! Bad enough they ripped of Futura- what’s that? It wasn’t a rip off? It was based on a short film from 2010? Huh. Maybe I was too harsh on the film. Maybe it should be reviewed, and allowed to stand or fall based on it’s own merits. I need to make this right. Back in a sec.

*A hour and forty five minutes of hell later*

I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

What do you think of Pixels/Raiders of the Lost Arcade? I’d ask which is better, but… yeah. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter! Meanwhile I’m going to find Sean Bean, Brian Cox, Dan Aykroyd, Daryl Hall, John Oats, and Peter Dinklage and make them promise to never be in a movie as bad as this again!

About the author

Scott Meridew