Movie review by
Yvonne Condes, Common Sense Media
Pixels Movie Poster Image
Action, crass/raunchy humor in alien-attack sci-fi comedy.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 105 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 46 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 81 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The ongoing message is that nerds are really heroes, and friends stay loyal to each other no matter what. But there are also derisive jokes and people who behave in very iffy ways.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While all the main characters ultimately demonstrate bravery and loyalty, and they do care about each other, none of them are wholly positive role models. The president is brave, but he's also incompetent, drinks on the job, and can't spell. Sam is a sad sack who hates his job and never got over losing a video game championship as a kid. The First Lady does nothing at all. Lt. Col. Violet Van Patten is a strong female character, but she locks herself in a closet and drinks wine from a sippy cup when her husband announces his new marriage. Ludlow is creepy, isn't nice to his mom (whom he lives with), obsesses over a female video game character, and plans to kidnap another character. Eddie is disrespectful to everyone throughout most of the movie and eventually admits to cheating. Not much diversity to speak of, and none of the gamers are female.


Some violence within video games, but mostly it's loud, explosive action violence against video game characters like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Centipede. The Taj Mahal is destroyed in a pixel attack. Buildings explode, collapsing like a Tetris game. Battle between the gamers -- who use big laser guns -- and video game characters. A smurf, along with many other video game characters, is shot and killed (pixelated). Lady Lisa is destroyed but comes back to life. Lots of aggressive yelling. Characters are pixelated and taken into a spaceship. Ludlow gets thrown out of a van after hiding in it in an attempt to drug and kidnap Sam.


A young gamer is accompanied by two crop-top wearing women. A buxom video warrior, Lady Lisa, comes to life and makes out with Ludlow. Talk about a three-way featuring famous women. Ludlow slaps some Navy SEALs on the butt. Violet and Sam flirt throughout the movie and make out at the end.


Language includes "sluts," "bitch," and "s--tballs." Talk of blowing pixels to hell.


In addition to all of the well-known video game characters that appear throughout the movie (Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, etc.), Mini Coopers and Sony products are prominent. Also Crystal Head Vodka.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Frequent social drinking by adults in bars and at parties. Violet drinks wine out of a sippy cup, and Sam drinks from the bottle. The president drinks beer from a pitcher. Violet and Sam talk about doing shots. The president and Sam drink in a bar. One character plans to kidnap another and has a bottle of chloroform handy to do it.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pixels is a sci-fi comedy starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James about a group of misfit, sometimes frankly creepy video game lovers who end up fending off an alien attack (in the form of giant classic video game characters). As per usual, Sandler plays an immature man/boy, this time one who never got over losing a video game championship as a kid in the '80s and now gets to redeem himself. There's explosive, destructive action violence -- Pac-Man eats his way through New York City, Centipede takes on Navy SEALs, a smurf gets shot with a laser and killed -- as well as fighting, weapons, and some fairly raunchy (and sometimes offensive) humor. Sexual innuendo includes talk of a three-way (though nothing is shown), and one character slaps others' butts. There's also a fair bit of social drinking by adults and some aggressive yelling and swearing, including "bitch," "sluts," and "s--tballs." Fans of Sandler, James, and gaming may find this Chris Columbus-directed movie somewhat entertaining, but it's not for little kids.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bynancylady August 11, 2015

Very Base

It is so sad to sit in a theater and hear children laugh at sexist jokes, and men yelling at women (a wife and grandmother). The adults are depicted as spending... Continue reading
Adult Written byP-T July 29, 2015


It was an ok experience. Nothing to encourage others to see. Adam S. is about the same as you've ever seen him. No new fun. Why one of the final scenes is... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byimoviegoteen July 24, 2015

Such a creative movie

Great movie, great cast, and fun for the family. Language includes some B words (about 7), but that's about all I heard. Overall I can just say if you take... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old September 12, 2015

Fun but Captain America must be here

When I say "Captain America must be here", I meant that there are so much language in the movie. Isn't Q*Bert supposed to speak gibberish and no... Continue reading

What's the story?

In the 1980s, a time capsule full of images and footage of life on Earth is sent into space, where it's intercepted by aliens. They believe it's an act of war and appropriate the video game technology to attack Earth. It turns out that the only people who can stop them are a ragtag group of arcade gamers (Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Peter Dinklage, and Josh Gad) whose heyday was in the '80s. They work with the government to train the military to fight giant versions of classic video game characters -- including Pac-Man, Centipede, Donkey Kong, and Space Invaders.

Is it any good?

PIXELS may appeal to fans of Sandler, James, and '80s video games: It has a novel premise, and the action sequences can be entertaining. Especially fun is the climax, when Pac-Man chomps down on the streets of New York City and the gamers battle their foes in Mini Coopers. But the characters that should be holding the movie together aren't terribly likable. They're called "nerds" over and over again -- but that's only true if the definition of "nerd" is a slightly pathetic man who, in the case of Ludlow (Josh Gad), has possible serial killer qualities.

Sandler looks like he's not even trying, while James is both mildly amusing and totally unbelievable as the president. There are some funny scenes when the aliens try to communicate using '80s video footage, and Dinklage -- as a foul mouthed, mullet-sporting former gamer -- is both terrible and compelling. Bottom line? Teens and older tweens may like the action and silly humor, and fortysomething parents could find a few chuckles at the pop culture references, but this isn't anything new (or particularly impressive) from Sandler and co.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Pixels' violence. Does it have less impact because the bad guys are giant video game characters? Does exposure to violent movies or video games make kids more aggressive?

  • Are any of the characters role models? Are they intended to be? How can you tell?

  • Sam can't move past losing a video game competition when he was a kid. What do you do when you have a setback?

  • Talk about how different video games were in the '80s. Kids: Did your parents play video games when they were younger? Did you know what an arcade was before seeing this movie?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action and adventure

Themes & Topics

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