In the beginning, Atari (Pac-Man) and Nintendo (Donkey Kong), created video arcades, which spawned gamers who in turn procreated and, one generation later, staffed the world with the current crop of gaming whizzes. Director Chris Columbus ("Harry Potter") is playing to all three generations. In fact, the fellow next to me kept making happy little chirping noises all through the classic game sequences, which also included Centipede, Asteroids, Space Invaders and Galaxian. Video games are a HUGE industry in today's digital world.

In 1977, Carl Sagan spearheaded the launch of a Voyager time capsule to outer space which contained samples of life as we knew it. For our story, aliens find video games on board and mistake them for reality, consequently they launch a "defensive" strike using the patterns they find in the samples. Obviously humans who excelled at those arcade games in years gone by are best suited to defend Earth today.

We see:
  • Adam Sandler ("Grown Ups") Brenner is a former arcade contender who now installs digital devices in homes for a living. Sandler continues to use the same whiny voice and deadpan delivery that made him a multimillionaire. "If it ain't broke..."
  • Kevin James ("Hitch") Cooper surprises us with his success story, but he is still a loyal friend and with the future of the world at stake, he reminds Brenner of his old skills.
  • Peter Dinklage ("Game of Thrones") Eddie "The Fire Blaster" Plant beat Brenner for the world championship when they were boys. This egotistical braggart provides some of the best laughs near the end of the movie.
  • Josh Gad (Olaf's voice in "Frozen") Ludlow was another successful arcade player but his personality has kept him at his grand- mother's house all these years.
  • Michelle Monaghan ("Eagle Eye") is nursing a broken heart and a bottle of wine, but her son is having some digital devices installed in their home...Brenner tells her she has already married the wrong guy so the worst part is over...enter her instant dislike for that nerdy installer (nudge, nudge, wink, wink...).
  • Brian Cox ("RED") Admiral Porter is the proud military fellow our civilians humble with their unique skills.
The screening audience enjoyed this one, while those four pastel-colored Mini Coopers made me smile. This Sci-Fi outing is a PG-13 comedy with a painfully contrived plot, juvenile humor and one mild kiss, but it's loaded to the gills with blowie uppie stuff and Computer Generated Imaging! Video games constitute all of the action, most of the plot and all of the visuals. Sigh... Am I the only one getting tired of this? In my opinion, Sandler's cash cow has gone dry.
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See what I mean:
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