Opportunity squandered. Adam Sandler’s latest comedy sees an alien race test the human species to deadly combat via an invasion of 80’s arcade games come to life on a large scale (Pac-Man flits about eating cars for example), leaving Sam Brenner (Sandler) as humanity’s best hope for survival and conveniently giving justification and meaning to his and some of his friends’ lives (although to be fair, one of them has also become President of the United States) wherein much time was previously wasted/invested playing classic arcade games.
The film has very obviously taken huge inspiration from the wonderful documentary ‘The King of Kong’ (07), which charted the rivalry between two contending Donkey Kong champions (although there is suggestion it may have sacrificed facts for drama in the process which would be a shame if true). Here, the characters are all pretty lame and the actors: Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, invest in them with varying degrees of success but none succeed in creating anything with enough screen presence or workable comedy to be worthwhile. Indeed, Michelle Monaghan is arguably the most successful with her fairly run-of-the-mill romantic interest for Brenner, but the film’s largest drawback is that, despite convincing effects, they have managed to make the concept unbelievably dull and tedious. It perhaps wasn’t all that great for comedy to begin with, but coupled with plodding and ungrounded character and environmental interplay it just grinds ever downward into predictable and irredeemable pointlessness.