While this action-comedy never really pixelates this potentially intriguing premise into a truly memorable resolution – it has a few moments that keep it the right side of watchable.
The first half actually has a few laugh-out-loud old-school Adam Sandler gags – which hark back to his Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer glory days – that promises something more, but when the arcade characters invade it just peters out into generic paint-by-numbers hokum.
Fortunately Sandler, female lead Michelle Monaghan (M:I-III), and particularly Frozen’s Josh ‘Olaf’ Gad – who compensate for the uncharismatic Kevin James and cringeworthy Peter Dinklage – do just enough to make this passable family entertainment.
After aliens pick up a video message sent into outer space – from the 1982 World Arcade Championships involving younger versions of arch-nemesis’ Brenner (Sandler) and Eddie (Game of Throne’s Dinklage) – they misinterpret this as a declaration of war.
Characters from such famous games as Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Defender, Duck Hunt and Tetris – along with Mario and even the Smurfs – are all referenced, as their evil video gaming entities are sent to destroy the planet.
Fortunately Brenner (who begrudgingly teams with Eddie) and pals, Cooper (James) – who just happens to be President – and Ludlow (Gad), along with Sandler’s love interest Violet (Monaghan), are their to save the day by working out the attack techniques that were used when they threw quarters into arcade machines as kids.
That’s further reaffirmed in the Big Apple when the world could be ending – yet New Yorker’s are just strolling around completely oblivious about their impending doom. Don’t you think the President would have evacuated the area of the attack (which they knew about) to potentially save millions of lives? Just keep them in harm’s way Kevin James – who looks more like a ‘chubby Ghostbuster’ than the leader of the free world.
Glaring plot-holes and basic storytelling aside, Sandler and Gad – who has a couple of great stand-out moments – just about pull it through, and that, coupled with the elements of video gaming nostalgia, paper over some very significant cracks.
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Gavin Miller [youtube id=”XAHprLW48no” width=”600″ height=”350″]
Cast: Adam Sandler, Josh Gad, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin James, Peter Dinklage, Brian Cox, Sean Bean, Matt Lintz, Jane Krakowski, Toru Iwatani, Ashley Benson, Dan Akroyd & Serena Williams
Running Time: 1 Hr 46 Mins
Director: Chris Columbus