Synopsis: After a disastrous blind date, single parents Lauren and Jim agree on only one thing: they never want to see each other again. But when they each sign up separately for a fabulous family vacation with their kids, they are all stuck sharing a suite at a luxurious African safari resort for a week in Blended, the third comedy collaboration between stars Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.
Release Date: May 23, 2014 MPAA Rating: PG-13
When sitting down for an Adam Sandler film it’s hard not to expect the worse. After a string of successes in the early ’90s, Sandler’s career trajectory has been more concerned with the lowest common denominator, comedically, to the point you almost expect to cringe more often than laugh. Somehow, though, that has made many of his films impervious to criticism, as each continues to generate a small fortune at the box office, but here goes nothing.
Blended reunites Adam Sandler (Jack and Jill, with his The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates co-star Drew Barrymore (Going The Distance) for a tale about blended families. Sandler plays Jim, a widower and father of three girls whose work and home life leaves little time for exploring the dating pool. He’s the type of oblivious dad who treats his girls as boys, calling one Larry instead of her real name Hilary (Bella Thorne), and giving them haircuts that leave their true sex relatively ambiguous. And even when Jim tries his hand at dating, like with single mother of two boys Lauren (Barrymore), he discovers his ineptitude all but ruins his chances.
However, it is that chance encounter with Lauren that puts the two single parents on a crash course trajectory with each other. Of course, their date goes poorly and neither expects to see the other again. Yet, a surprising, or unsurprising given this is a Sandler film, twist of fate puts the two families on the same African trip – a trip that just so happens to be catered specifically to blended families.
The ideas behind Blended, of two disparate families coming to understand each other, are surprisingly strong for your average Adam Sandler flick. Where most of the comedian’s films tend to use their situational gimmicks as the impetus for unbelievable and eye roll inducing hijinks, Blended is a little more grounded in terms of its comedy. Much of the film’s plot centers on what it’s like to be a single parent raising kids of the opposite sex, and the challenges that come with having that role thrust upon you. If there’s one thing that Blended has going for it, it’s that poignant point of view. It’s just a shame the film squanders any of that goodwill with tired Adam Sandler joke after Adam Sandler joke.
In typical Sandler fashion, Blended is motivated not by a desire to push the story forward but by what the filmmakers hope will get the biggest laughs from the audience. The film asserts early on that any semblance of logic or coherence have been thrown out the window in favor of a juvenile sense of humor that, while occasionally funny, is not befit of your time. Having the same jokes about how Hilary looks like a boy, or that Lauren’s son is obsessed with the feminine figure, beat over your head turns the Blended viewing experience into a war of attrition. Either you submit to the puerility or better yet you become numb enough to survive it.
Blended is also filled with the prototypical selection of nonsensical side characters the likes of which you can only find in a Sandler flick. At one point in time, appearances by SNL regulars and famous faces used to be one of the great joys of these films, but now you end up feeling bad that these people have to reduce themselves to horribly one-note and oftentimes offensive characters. Terry Crews (The Expendables 2) comes out the worst of the bunch, as an African singer named Nickens whose sole purpose is to show up at odd times, flex his muscles, and sing some anecdotal song about the various plot developments. Ouch.
Worst of all Blended feels like a wasted opportunity, on two levels. As mentioned, the blended families concept could have made for a modern, Brady Bunch-esque comedy that highlights the struggles of single parents in today’s age. It’s not that. It’s cliche and obvious in all the worst ways. Second, there is the unmistakable chemistry between Sandler and Barrymore that, instead of bolstering Blended‘s core, only serves to remind you of the better days: when Barrymore’s presence didn’t feel like stunt casting and Sandler didn’t lazily mumble his way through a 2-hour movie. Blended isn’t a complete waste of time – it does have some funny moments – but it fully embraces its existence as yet another silly Adam Sandler movie. For some that will sound inviting, but for most it means avoid at all costs.
It’s worth mentioning that the audience at my screening of Blended ate up practically every joke, to the point it was actually hard to hear the following series of lines. For that reason, and that reason alone, it’s worth pointing out that Blended does have some chuckle worthy and even some clever jokes peppered throughout its story, but know that getting to those requires slogging through some really tired and infantile material. Basically, like with the movie itself, if you enjoy Sandler’s more recent comedies you might find Blended‘s brand of humor enjoyable. However, if you were hoping that reuniting Sandler and Barrymore makes for a sweeter and more heartfelt comedy a la The Wedding Singer, you’ll likely be disappointed. There are some shades of those prior Sandler/Barrymore collaborations in Blended, and even some callbacks as well, but not enough to help elevate the film.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Frank Coraci
- Screenwriter(s): Ivan MenchellClare Sera
- Cast: Adam Sandler (Jim)Drew Barrymore (Lauren)Kevin Nealon (Eddy) Terry Crews (Nickens)Wendi McLendon-Covey (Jen)Joel McHale (Mark)
- Editor(s): Tom Costain
- Cinematographer: Julio Macat
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Rupert Gregson-Williams
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA