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Box Office: $24M
Beginning / End:
First disappointment of the film is the underwhelming flashback sequence of the 1982 video game championship to open the film, devoid of laughs. Sandler defeated by “Shorty” Peter Dinklage (best known for Game of Thrones) who is setup as the pseudo-villain or “bad boy” of the film because of his height, attire and flip attitude.
The “climax” of the film was the dramatic defeat of Donkey Kong, which was revealed at the end of the trailer for the film, so this is not much of a spoiler alert. The exclamation point on the film was the revelation that “Shorty” Dinklage had used cheats in order to win the ’82 championship, which presented itself as one of the great “Who Cares” moments for moviegoers this summer.
Theater / Audience / 3D / Movie-Going Experience:
Saturday 7/25 10:30PM – AMC Northpark 15 – 3D
Audience was bunch of stiffs with no sense of humor that brought the film down further. Pre-gaming it with booze and icing-on-the-cake beer from MacGuffins failed to help supply any additional laughs. Presumably, many of the attendees for the 10:30 show were still asleep in the theater from the 8 o’clock show.
Plot / Story:
Sandler & Kevin James team up again to reprise the chemistry from Grown Ups 2. “Aliens” turn time capsule that was shot into space into weapon that threatens mankind and requires hotshot video game dweebs (“insiders”) from 1982 in order to employ patterns in order to defeat them. Roundabout premise that affords opportunities for B level actors to shoot light cannons at the sky.
Overall plot was paper thin, which makes it one step up from nonexistent.
Lacking. Could have saved the film from its flimsy premise if it just had more laughs.
Cast / Acting:
Adam Sandler – Typecast as playing himself. In this case, a plodding half-hungover version of himself.
Kevin James – Watchable, but unable to carry the load of this film in any respect. Incidentally, Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 came out 3 months ago, scoring a eye-popping 6% on the tomatometer and through the grace of god did $71M at the box office. Sure, no one is going to confuse him with a serious actor, but the man has apparently never met a script he didn’t like.
Michelle Monaghan – The token babe of the film playing the overdone role of hot FBI agent. She delivered a truly unmemorable performance, demonstrating zero chemistry with the other actors and failing to inject any substance into the film.
“Shorty” Peter Dinklage – 4’ 5” that is trotted in when they need to bring some credibility to a fantasy film or TV series – Game of Thrones, Prince Caspian Chronicles of Narnia. Was also able to fill both roles of child and adult version of himself in the film, presumably because of his height or perceived agelessness. Danny DeVito at 5 feet flat was apparently ruled out as too tall to play this role.
Josh Gad – Frankly it has been a week and I had completely forgotten he was in the film. That being said, with him being the 5th lead in the film, you can pretty much write off the rest of the cast from him down as effectively making no contribution.
Chris Columbus – director of classic comedies Home Alone 1 & 2 and Mrs. Doubtfire along with 2 of the Harry Potter films. Why did a man with such a reputable pedigree attach himself to this project (as producer also!)? I imagine the cash was guaranteed and he could rely on Sandler to take the fall when the project inevitably bombed.
Stars / Final Verdict:
In saving my few compliments for the film for the end of the review, the film earns a solid 1-1/2 stars out of 4. The 3D was a plus, the film was easy to watch and fell short of being agonizingly awful. The laughs were sparse, but they were there. Sandler and James despite their mediocrity remain watchable. Final verdict – don’t see it in the theater unless you’re a 3D or Sandler nut. See it eventually, but wait for it to appear on Netflix and approach it with low expectations.