Pixels is a 2015 American science fiction comedy film produced by Columbia Pictures, 1492 Pictures and Happy Madison Productions. The film was directed by Chris Columbus. Its screenplay was written by Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling, with a screen story penned by Tim Herlihy and based on French director Patrick Jean’s 2010 short film of the same name. The film stars Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Monaghan, Brian Cox, Ashley Benson, and Jane Krakowski. The film’s plot has extraterrestrials misinterpreting video-feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, and invading Earth using technology inspired by games such as Pac-Man and Space Invaders. To counter the alien assault, the United States hire former arcade champions to lead the planet’s defense.
In the summer of 1982, Sam Brenner and Will Cooper are thirteen year olds that love playing in the local arcade. Brenner enters an arcade game world championships. At the event, the MC tells that a time capsule will be launched into space containing elements of the championships. Brenner and Cooper meet Ludlow Lamonsoff, a child who’s in love with Lady Lisa (the main character of the game Dojo Quest). Brenner wins nearly every game, but loses to Eddie Plant in Donkey Kong.
In the present, Brenner works for a company that installs software and Cooper is the President of the United States. In Guam, a U.S. military base is attacked. The soldiers try to fight back, but are easily defeated, and one soldier is abducted.
Brenner is sent to work at the home of Violet Van Patten, a divorcée who lives with her son Matty. Brenner heads to the White House after receiving a call from Cooper. To his surprise, he finds out that Violet is a Lieutenant Colonel. Cooper brings Brenner into the Oval Office to show him the attack in the base. Brenner says that the way the attack was carried out was like in the classic version of the video game Galaga.
Later, Brenner drives home when Ludlow suddenly appears inside his van. Ludlow takes Brenner to his home where he says that the aliens are sending creatures with classic video game designs to attack. Ludlow found a message using manipulated footage to explain their plans: The tape was found and seen as a threat; they are using the video games as a challenge. If they win three rounds, they will claim the Earth. They show the video to Cooper and determine that the next attack will happen in India, but are too late; the Taj Mahal is attacked with Arkanoid paddles and another person is abducted.
Brenner and Ludlow are brought in to “train” soldiers by showing them how to play these games. Violet shows Brenner and Ludlow that the pixels are taken down by strong light beams. The next attack will happen in London. The soldiers brace for attack in Hyde Park. Centipede appears in the sky. Brenner tells the men to shoot the head and anticipate the pattern, but they lack the skills, so more appear. Brenner and Ludlow take over with permission from Cooper and they defeat them. The aliens send a message to congratulate them on their victory, and give the Duck Hunt dog as a trophy to an old lady, but remind that they are leading 2-1.
New York City is the place of the next attack. Ludlow and Cooper say that they need help. Brenner, Cooper, and Violet go to a prison to find Eddie, who is serving a sentence for counts of fraud. Cooper agrees to let Eddie out of prison and relinquish his taxes in exchange for his help.
The team discovers that they are going to face Pac-Man and in order to succeed they need to defeat it three times. Violet presents them with four cars based on the ghosts in Pac-Man, with the other car driven by the game’s creator Toru Iwatani. In the downtown area Iwatani tries to appeal to Pac-Man as a son, but gets his hand chomped off instead. The remaining three chase after Pac-Man. He eats a power pellet, which gives him the ability to eat ghosts, and eats Ludlow’s car as he jumps. Eddie hits the first Pac-Man after catching up to him quickly to the surprise of everyone. The second one also gets taken out by Eddie, but going after the third, he winds up accidentally driving into the East River. Brenner chases him but Pac-Man finds another power pellet. Brenner drives backwards through a parking garage. The power pellet wears off, and Pac-Man is defeated. As a result, they’re given Q*bert as a trophy.
The team have a ball to celebrate the victory. All seems going well, until the aliens send another message saying that someone cheated and the contest for the planet has been forfeited. Matty finds out Eddie used a speed cheat during the battle with Pac-Man. Eddie flees the scene and Matty is abducted.
The aliens bring down more video games upon Washington, D.C. as they prepare to take over. Cooper joins the team, while Ludlow stays to fight. One of the aliens takes the form of Lady Lisa. She fights him until he says he loves her, and they share a kiss. Eddie comes to fight as well. Brenner, Violet, Cooper and Q*Bert get brought up to the space ship where they have to face Donkey Kong. Everyone tries to reach the captives as Donkey Kong rolls barrels down. Matty reveals to Brenner what he found out about Eddie. Brenner takes the hammer and throws it at Donkey Kong, destroying him. This causes the video games to freeze and then are brought back up to the ship, including Lady Lisa.
The team is recognized as heroes. A peace agreement has been made with the aliens. Eddie reluctantly tells Brenner he is the best video game player. Q*bert randomly transforms into Lady Lisa, to Ludlow’s delight. Brenner and Violet become a couple, while Eddie gets a text message from Serena Williams and Martha Stewart. The alien ship finally departs from Earth, and Iwatani’s hand is restored. One year later Ludlow and Lisa are married and parents of five Q*berts.