Pixels

Adam Sandler stars as a onetime arcade champion who puts his talents to good use when extraterrestrials attack the earth with giant versions of 80s video game characters. This amiable Ghostbusters knockoff is unusually competent for a Sandler comedy; director Chris Columbus (Home Alone, the first two Harry Potter films) actually devotes some care to such niceties as pacing and characterization—things that Dennis Dugan, Sandler’s regular director, seldom bothers with—and he strikes an even balance between situational humor and special effects set pieces. As for the humor, it’s the typical Sandler shtick about arrested development and public humiliation; the big joke here is that the old-school gamers recruited to save the world have little aptitude for anything other than video games. With Kevin James as a nitwit American president modeled on George W. Bush and Michelle Monaghan as Sandler’s arbitrary love interest.