I spent a good deal of time, and quarters, in the arcades in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. They were the logical extension of the movies and TV I would watch, with the advantage being that I got to do some of the blasting myself. Well, sort of. I wonder what it would be like – cue Wayne and Garth going “didiloo didiloo didiloo”.
Let me say upfront, I am not an Adam Sandler fan. In my opinion, he has just one note and he played that to death during his SNL days. However, I will say he has allowed that unique low-brow to mature a little in this movie. He leads you were Adam always goes, and then leaves it there, not pressing the point as he usually does, which is fine by me. The first part of the joke is enough. It does not need repeating or pounding.
Brenner (Adam) was a world-class video game champ. Well, second place anyway. Eddie, “The Fire Blaster” (Peter Dinklage), beat him. We are talking old-school video games now, Centipede, Pac-Man, Asteroids, Donkey Kong, that sort of thing. Apparently, NASA videotaped the championship and sent it out into space as part of some interstellar greeting. Well, some aliens found it, and took it as a challenge. So, they come to Earth to do battle, old-school. Of course, our hapless nerds, now thirty years older, come to the rescue bringing their teenage baggage with them.
It is a nostalgia feast for anyone over the age of 35. Beyond the games and lingo, the aliens send messages through manipulated TV versions of Mr. Roarke and Tattoo, Madonna, and Hall and Oates, to name a few. I suspect half of the humor and half of the plot will be totally missed by teens and twenty-somethings. It is an Adam Sandler movie from the very first shot. While he and his character are a more mature version of the amalgam of most of his characterizations, there is still a basic, low risk, tried and tested Adam quality to the movie as a whole.
The support cast do their jobs, as does the director, cinematographer, editor, score and sound. I have given up talking about special effects. The technology makes them so seamless these days. However, I will say the conceptualization of old-school digital pixels in a real-life setting is well done. Additionally, the 3D work is nice, perhaps because the nature of highly illuminated 2D gaming allowed for some ‘in your face’ 3D work. It is great fun watching the Centipede coming right at you.
It is PG-13, without hardly a curse word, so it is good for all ages really, though young folk may not get it.
It is entertaining, but I can’t give it a ticket. If you want to see it, go see it. Have some popcorn. Have a fun evening. Otherwise, wait for rental or TV – there isn’t anything that will be cut or bleeped.