Reel Toronto: Pixels
Torontoist has been acquired by Daily Hive Toronto - Your City. Now. Click here to learn more.



Reel Toronto: Pixels

Adam Sandler brings his latest opus to town to blow things up, arcade style.

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.

2015 10 19 pixels2 (640x263)

Let’s get this straight off the bat: Pixels is not the worst movie ever shot in this city. Sure, it only impressed 17 per cent of critics when it came out earlier this year but it’s hardly in the same league as single-digit atrocities like Cheaper by the Dozen 2.

Oh, it’s not a good movie, don’t get us wrong! But by the standards of Sandler’s cinematic diminishing returns and the average high-concept Hollywood blockbuster, it’s merely not as terrible as you imagine, probably.

2015 10 19 resstreet3 (640x260)

So, Pixels opens with a flashback to 1982 because the narrative would be nigh incomprehensible if we were not given in depth explorations of its central characters and their origins.

2015 10 19 biking park cobourg (640x260)

This bucolic, small-town scene was shot in Cobourg, where we cut through this park

2015 10 19 biking cobourg (640x256)

…and onto King Street…

2015 10 19 biking arcade (640x262)

…with this empty property transformed into a video arcade.

2015 10 19 convention sheratoncenre (640x262)

Sandler’s Mini-Me and his friends make their way to a big convention…

2015 11 19aykroyd (640x266)

…with some Can-con provided by Dan Aykroyd. Thanks to its distinctive escalators (that’s right, to us they are!) the location is recognizable as the Sheraton Centre.

2015 10 19 bar2 (640x264)

Wheee, now we’re in the “present” where Sandler’s tech repairman is lunching with his friend, who’s only become POTUS, don’t you know. If Kevin James-as-president is too much suspension of disbelief for you to handle, Pixels is not the movie for you.

2015 10 19 bar (640x266)

This lovely drinkery is actually the Esplanade’s Tilted Kilt…

2015 10 19 bar potomac ext tiltedkilt (640x263)

…and we can see the actual exterior (As you can see from the bar’s name, The Potomac Grill, we’re supposed to be in Washington, D.C.)…

2015 10 19 tiltedkilt esplanade (640x264)

…and the Novotel across the street (complete with not-very-D.C. flags) when they venture outside.

2015 10 19 presidentatschool (640x263)

Back in the bar, the president appears on TV, making a fool of himself. The school scene was apparently shot at Princess Margaret Junior School.

2015 10 19 pub (640x260)

Apparently big fans of the Esplanade’s themed bars…

2015 10 19 pub scotlandyardmaybe (640x264)

…we later visit Scotland Yard

2015 11 19bean (640x264)

…when we’re supposed to be in Jolly Old London. Note the presence of Sean Bean, famous for his long stream of heroic, cinematic deaths. In this movie he lives, which is its own kind of punishment.

2015 11 19vodka (640x259)

Also note that when you have vodka in this movie, you must have Crystal Head Vodka which, not at all coincidentally, is co-owned by Mr. Aykroyd. If you’re going to have product placement, might as well be for your friends.

2015 10 19 centipede3 (640x265)

Speaking of London, this scene, wherein the heroes battle Centipede, is supposed to take place in Hyde Park.

2015 10 19 centipede2 (640x266)

Actually, it was shot in Rouge Park near Steeles Avenue and Reesor Road.

2015 11 19delisle (640x266)

When the big boss centipede escapes from the park, he bursts out onto Delisle Avenue

2015 10 19 centipede condo 33 delisle (640x266)

…eventually exploding out of this midtown condo.

2015 10 19 bakery2 bobetteandbellequeen (640x267)

The president also gets out and about, making a cake on Queen Street East, at Bobette and Belle.

2015 10 19 whitehousestreet clocktower (640x256)

After a visit to the White House, Sandler runs into Josh Gad here…

2015 10 19 street afterwhitehouse hamiltonmaybe (640x263)

…on York Boulevard, in Hamilton.

2015 10 19 dinklage (640x267)

Did we mention that Peter Dinklage is in this movie? Because he totally is!

Anyway, as you surely know, Sandler and his unlikely band of misfits are drafted to save us all from these aliens who are, naturally, attacking us in the form of old video game characters.

2015 10 19 armoury2 (640x262)

Preparing for their assault on Pac Man, they gather here…

2015 10 19 jamestarmoury (640x263)

…in Hamilton’s James Street Armoury.

2015 10 19 nyc cgi (640x264)

It’s also seen from the outside, with a New York skyline pasted in.

2015 10 19 pixels (640x264)

Then the big finale kicks in and Pac Man gets chased across the entirety of downtown. Brace yourselves!

2015 10 19 chasetd (640x266)

We start off by Adelaide and York

2015 10 19 chase yonge cornered (640x261)

Then, in no particular order, we find our large yellow friend (did you know his original name was “Puck Man?”) cornered here on Yonge Street…

2015 10 19 1kingwest (640x267) (640x267)

…outside 1 King West…

2015 10 19 chase yonge victoria (640x263)

…not to mention by the Hotel Victoria (and a subway entrance!)…

2015 10 19 chase pumpernickles (640x266)

…and, mmmm, this delicious Pumpernickel’s, on Adelaide.

2015 10 19 chase bay oldcityhall (640x262)

…across Bay, with Old City Hall in the back…

2015 10 19 chase corusquay (640x267)

…somehow way down at Corus Quay

2015 10 19 chase 1stcdn (640x261)

…and by First Canadian Place…

2015 10 19 chase (640x270)

Amusingly, as you may recall, the shooting of these scenes created a rift in the space-time continuum, or at least our parking by-laws.

2015 10 19 chase yorkville (640x263)

Finally, we get out of the financial district and Gad leads Pac Man on a merry chase…

2015 10 19 chase bay pusateris (640x269)

…up Bay, north of Bloor (oooh, Pusateri’s!).

2015 10 19 chase busters (640x263)

And by this apparently-non-existent Dave & Buster’s, which is actually a Starbucks.

2015 10 19 garage exit 119YorkSt (640x263)
The chase finally culminates in this parking garage, from which the heroic Sandler emerges, back onto York Street

2015 10 19 garage exit2 (640x267)

…about where we started.

2015 10 19 dc (640x265)

Wow, that was some movie! That’s what you’re thinking, right? But no, there’s more! There’s an even bigger attack back in Washington, D.C. which, like, is also totally Toronto.

2015 10 19 dc universityave (640x266)

Most of the action is centred around University Avenue and Queen Street.

2015 10 19 dc canadalifedecapitated (640x264)

You can see the Canada Life building, decapitated by CGI…

2015 10 19 dc qp (640x265)

…and even Queen’s Park, down the street there…

2015 10 19 dc operahouse (640x262)

…not to mention the Four Seasons opera house…

2015 10 19 dc osgoodefence (640x263)

…and the exterior fence around Osgoode Hall.

2015 10 19 dc UofT2 (640x261)

Another segment of the battle takes place at U of T

2015 10 19 dc UofT (640x259)

…or Huron Street.

2015 10 19 900bay reverse (640x261)

Then the finale of finales, the coup de grace, is delivered a few blocks east…

2015 10 19 900bay (640x268)

…in front of the provincial government buildings at 900 Bay Street.

2015 10 19 ballroom2 (640x265)

Then there’s a ridiculous sequence with Donkey Kong we’ll just skip over because of course we end at a heroic party.

2015 10 19 ballroom radissonparkinn (640x268)

This was shot at the ballroom at the Radisson Park Inn, near the airport.

2015 10 19 ballroom cox (640x264)

Brian Cox is the first actor to play Hannibal Lecter, a great Shakespearean actor who fought Wolverine and Jason Bourne, killed it in a Spike Jonze movie, delivered a stunning monologue in a Spike Lee movie, and produced a series of great videos where he teaches you how to pronounce the name of single malt scotches. He’s also in this.

So, that’s Pixels. Even if you haven’t seen it, flipping through these pictures really quickly while making “pew! pew!” laser noises and fart jokes will roughly give you the idea. But hey, if Pixels merely goes down as the second-biggest movie Adam Sandler movie ever made here, we’ll just content ourselves with that.