It’s not a great movie but it’s not a terrible movie. It’s a brave statement I know, given all the hate that this movie has received from critics. But despite the fact that I am a massive retro gaming fan, and I’m really not a big fan of Adam Sandler, I still enjoyed this movie. There may be spoilers in this post by the way!

I’ve got a habit of being critical of movies that have been severely hyped up as being absolutely amazing and when a movie is panned across the board I often find myself looking for the good in it. Perhaps I just like rooting for the underdog. But this movie had been so universally panned that I knew I had to go into this movie with a completely open mind and with no preconceptions. What helped was that I went with my wife. She had no preconceptions and no expectations at all, and that helped me try to watch the film from her perspective.

Yes, it is an Adam Sandler movie. Not a great start. And yes it is a typical Adam Sandler wacky comedy. Again, I’m really not getting excited yet. But despite these things they have actually managed to make an entertaining movie in my opinion. There was period of about 20 mins in the second half where I did get a bit bored and I thought they were wasting time and doing irrelevant things with the plot, but for the rest of the film I was very much enjoying myself and actually had several laugh out loud moments and a couple of emotionally charged moments. A lot of these moments involved Josh Gad who was very good. Very few of the moments, however, involved Adam Sandler. There were some moments where the lines just fell like lead balloons. Unfortunately most of those moments involved Adam Sandler. He just felt like he phoned in some of his lines which was a shame.

People have slagged off the plot and said that the premise of some of the scenes doesn’t make any sense. Well, yeh it’s just a crazy comedy, so I think you can probably pick loads of holes in it. But I didn’t really find anything that pulled me out of the film too much. Once you accept the fact that Kevin James is the US President then everything else is fair game really! One of the main bits I didn’t like actually was when Adam Sandler and the main female character are sitting on the floor in a closet drowning their sorrows with wine. And then a few minutes later both of them are driving cars and going to the White House. I know it’s a comedy but I’m still surprised that they could portray that in any film let alone a 12A.

One bit that I really liked is when they played Donkey Kong in real life and the camera panned back to show you the whole game screen. That was pretty cool. But being an avid retro gamer it infuriated me that Adam Sandler was actually able to jump onto a barrel and jump off again, which obviously isn’t allowed in the game. Things like this really annoyed me but I had to just remind myself that it was just a movie. Other little bits were just stupid and annoying, like when Pac-Man approaches them when they’re in their cars and the professor gets out to talk to him. You see extras running around in the background in a state of frenzy. That’s ok for a few seconds but the scene lasts for a few minutes and there are extras who just keep running around them, not away from them, and some who actually run inbetween Pac-Man and the cars. That just seemed stupid. It made it obvious that it was a bunch of extras who had been told to run around, rather than actual people trying to run away from the big scare yellow alien.

My main gripe with the movie though was just that it could have been sooooooo much better. It could have been such a better movie if it had been done differently. The short film it was based on was great. The potential was huge, so I think they totally wasted the opportunity. But once I had mourned that fact and moved on and accepted the movie for what it was, I actually really enjoyed it. Yep, I did. And I got to enjoy it with my wife too which was great. I’m sure when my kids are older I’ll watch it with them too. I think a lot of children who watch it will go home to their parents and ask about Q*bert or Centipede and Galaga and games like that. And if it gets any children interested in classic gaming then it’s some level of success in my book.

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There are some good roles and cameos by some people you will recognise too. The special effects were great for the most part but I thought they kind of skirted over the Tetris gag of floors of a building disappearing. This worked really well in the short film and it’s such a great idea but in this movie they only showed that once and not in a very big way. That felt like a real waste. Also I didn’t seem to spot any Space Invaders. They were mentioned twice and a big space invader appears on one of the movie posters but I don’t think they made an appearance in the game. There must have been a licensing issue or something, because it’s pretty crazy not having them represented. I’m not sure how many non-gamers would really know Galaga or maybe even Centipede.

I went into this film totally open-minded and not starting off with a negative preconception, and I enjoyed myself. It’s not great but it’s not terrible. I get my cinema tickets free as part of my health insurance (it’s a great perk I know) but even if I had paid for my ticket I wouldn’t be asking for my money back.

If you’re wanting a totally respectful, cool retro gaming movie then this probably won’t be it. You may have to cross your fingers and wait for Spielberg’s Ready Player One which is coming soon or the potential WarGames reboot. But I still think it’s better to have a cheesy comedy about retro gaming just now than not to have any movie about retro gaming at all.

So, I won’t urge you all to see this on the big screen, you can wait until it’s out on the small screen if you want, but I would still happily recommend people to give it a try. I know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s fine. Just don’t expect too much, and who knows, you might just enjoy yourself.