2014, PG-13, 117 mins.
2014, PG-13, 117 mins.
Adam Sandler as Jim / Drew Barrymore as Lauren / Kevin Nealon as Eddy / Terry Crews as Nickens / Wendi McLendon-Covey as Jen / Bella Thorne as Hilary / Alyvia Alyn Lind as Lou / Joel McHale as Mark /
Directed by Frank Coraci / Written by Ivan Menchell and Clare Sera
BLENDED is twice as good as the last batch of witless and puerile Adam Sandler comedic ventures.
BLENDED is a bit softer on the edges
than most of Sandler’s
previous raunchfests (it contains very few gags regarding popping,
farting, peeing – actually, there’s one gag with the latter – and other bodily
functions), but its attempts at trying to be a would-be touching family
dramedy and a potentially hilarious travelogue picture are pathetic at
best. BLENDED wants to have
something sobering to say about the nature of parenting, loss, grief, and
moving forward…but it does so opposite of scenes with CGI African rhinos
screwing each other in the background.
BLENDED marks the
third time that Sandler has collaborated with co-star Drew Barrymore, as
the pair previously made THE WEDDING SINGER and 50
FIRST DATES (still their best effort) together, the former of
which was directed by Frank Coraci, whom also returns behind the camera
for this film. It could be
said that the two lead stars have a tangible chemistry on screen together;
they both seem to clearly like one another and enjoy working in tandem
in these comedies. Yet, the
material of these films, BLENDED included, kind of utterly betrays them
and their easy-going performance rapport.
The screenplay is so moronically lazy, pedestrian, and blatantly
obvious with its romantic underpinnings that any sense of palpable
surprises in the film are null and void.
For a comedy that’s already egregiously long at nearly two
hours, the fact that you know precisely where it’s going within a few
minutes is unavoidably frustrating. It sucks even more when the journey towards its predictable
conclusion is arduous to endure.
sections of the film, to be fair, offer up an implied promise that this
will be a different sort of Sandler comedy…that is before it falls back
on old Sandler brand staples. A set of single parents, Jim (Sandler) and Lauren (Barrymore)
end up on a blind date after a series of awkward meet cutes.
Actually, Lauren is recently divorced and Jim is a widow, but the
manner that Sandler dryly plays the character you would never know this
unless the script informs you of such a fact.
They are obligatory polar opposites, but they share a bond of
living vicariously through the lives of their respective children.
Lauren has two boys, Brendan (Braxton Beckham), who has a somewhat
sleazy obsession with his babysitter, and Tyler (Kyle Red Silverstein),
who’s bright-eyed, but hyperactive.
Jim has three daughters, Espn (Emma Fuhrmann), Lou (Alyvia Alyn
Lind) and Hilary (Bella Thorne), the latter one being a teen tomboy that’s
frequently mistaken for a boy, so you just know that there will be a later
scene in the film where she walks out in slow-motion – all dulled up and
looking gorgeously feminine – to show the world that’s she’s really
an adolescent babe.
It a plot
contrivance worthy of the worst kind of TV sitcom, Lauren and Jim
inexplicably find themselves being afforded the opportunity to travel to
Africa…to the same part of the country…to the same resort…and even
sharing the same suite at the luxury hotel (what…are…the…odds?).
Of course, Lauren is presented as the borderline offensive female
stereotype of the uptight and unsure of herself divorcee, whereas Jim is
sort of the loveable, tubby, happy-go-lucky schlub that Sandler has played
time and time again. Needless
to say, the more time the pair begrudgingly spends together at the resort
with each others’ families and exploring Africa, the more they begin to
form a bond and…and…you don’t need a narrative roadmap to know
often make up for their formulaic material by at least infusing the story
with two highly amiable characters that we latch onto, like, and want to
see end up together in the end before the final credits roll.
BLENDED never truly makes a convincing case as to why we should
really yearn to see Jim and Lauren together.
The film is D.O.A. when it comes to actually investigating the
respective plights of these two parents and very little effort is made to
fully explore that sadness of (a) losing a wife to cancer and (b) being
divorced. What’s worse is
that Jim and Lauren’s children are essentially used for the purposes of
cheap – and oftentimes cruel and unsavory – jokes at their expense.
There’s a rather unflattering manner that BLENDED exploits these
young actors for the purposes of getting easy laughs and payoffs; they are
less fully developed characters than they are one-note comedic punching
A lot of the
other requisite Sandler-ian elements make their way into the film as well.
Beyond obtrusive product placement – Hooters – check. A witless and
unfunny cameo appearances by a B-grade ex-SNL colleague of Sandler’s –
Kevin Nealon – check. Perfunctory Shaquille O’Neal
appearance – check.
would at least think that BLENDED would attempt to atone for its more
banal indiscretions by being a modestly enjoyable film that relays the
natural beauty of Africa. Welp…no dice. BLENDED
never really seems compelled at all to display what the nation is like on
any credible or relatable level and instead opts for portraying the land
and its people in mostly crude ethic stereotypes that feel woefully out of
date with a modern day film. Most
of the African characters are, for the most part, sheepishly portrayed
smiling servants and – in the case of Terry Crews – a constantly
outrageous singer that parades around the film with a chorus group and
sings ballads that comment on the character's predicaments.
that we get some dutiful shots of African wildlife here and there…some
really insipid greenscreen work that appears to insert Barrymore and
Sandler into shots…and what we are left with is a portrait of a country
that would barely fit on the front page of a bare-bones travel brochure.
Again, BLENDED is not as, shall I say, inexcusably terrible and odiously offensive as many of the recent films on his resume. Yet, it places about as much faith in the audience’s collective attention spans and intelligence as the worst of his past film catalogue; in short…not much at all. The comedy is inert and lifeless and the drama that is awkwardly assembled alongside the infantile chuckles is sentimental hogwash. Perhaps the film’s biggest sin is that it squanders the endlessly sunny disposition of Barrymore, who achieves the impossible here of being such a bright and spunky presence in a film that she must have known, deep down, was a unrelentingly wasted, paycheck grabbing endeavor. That takes a special level of performance commitment.
Everything around her, though, is in pure Sandler-brand coast mode.