Director Chris Columbus would appear to be a perfect choice for this homage to the 80s. His c.v. began back there, minting classics such as Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire, along with a slew of others. More recently, he gave us the first two Harry Potter films, which weren’t the best, but which captured a sense of the child-like… but then came Percy Jackson and, now, this half-baked romp that is neither adventure, science fiction, nor romance, but some weird melange of the three and nothing that really give us satisfaction.
To be fair, he was working with a script written by SNL writing alumn, Herlihy… which isn’t a great place to start. But I can’t just blame it on the script; the directing is uneven and ham-handed. While the quiet moments are good, the comedy bits are far too broad.
Adam Sandler (Hotel Transylvania) and Michelle Monaghan (True Detective) actually make an amusing couple comprised of broken adults. Their verbal sparring is almost believable, even if their romance screams rebound mistake!
On the other hand Kevin James (Hotel Transylvania) is absurd as the president, much as Brian Cox (RED 2) was as a general. And, honestly, the less said of Josh Gad (The Wedding Ringer) and Peter Dinklage (X-Men: Days of Future Past), the better.
There is entertainment to be had here, though I suspect it will work best for those that grew up during the arcade era of the 80s. It riffs on that look and those ideas nicely. I wanted to like this film so much more than I did, but every time I got close, a sour moment would temper my interest. I didn’t hate it, but honestly, it is missable. Perhaps it would work better as a drinking game?