Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Wendi McLendon-Covey
Jim (Sandler) and Lauren (Barrymore) are two single parents who meet for a blind date that happens to be at Hooters and a complete disaster, with the two vowing never to see one another again. When Lauren’s friend Jen (McLendon-Covey) splits up with her boyfriend, Lauren persuades Jen to let her take her place on an expensive holiday to Africa that has all been paid for as her two sons need a trip away during the school holidays. However, Jim overhears about the split and holiday cancellation and so persuades Jen’s ex-boyfriend, his boss, to let him and his three daughters go on the holiday. Both families then travel to Africa unaware they are going to have to spend the whole week together, which proves to be a week of ups and downs as the two families struggle to get along.
There is that dark point that happens at least once in the cinematic year which always makes me quiver with fear; the release of Adam Sandler’s latest insult to cinema. Well, here it is, and those clever (!) marketing people seem to be emphasising the fact it is another (the third) team up with Drew Barrymore. Admittedly The Wedding Singer was very popular, and so that makes sense, but that was a while ago and now Adam Sandler seems happy to churn out some truly appalling films now. The worst thing is that they make money, and so not only does it question the sanity of sections of the cinema going public, but also the point of me continuing with this review; as his films are critically annihilated but make money, and so subsequently keep on rearing their ugly head every year the consistently bad reviews they get seem to make little difference. Well, I will venture bravely on and first point out that though Blended is not as horrifically evil as Grown Ups 2, it is still absolute self indulgent rubbish, that is written with cynicism, laziness and smugness in equal measure (one third each then).
The main reason Blended is bad, but not horrifically bad, is indeed Drew Barrymore; a fun, watchable and very likeable comedy actress when she wants to be, she is surprisingly good in her role and often elevates the terrible material she is given. Likewise she at times has an effect on Adam Sandler in that the two do share obvious chemistry, and when sharing scenes with her, Sandler sometimes seems to subconsciously tone it down and almost become a likeable screen presence. The man can act, for me Punch Drunk Love is a reminder of that, but sadly these few moments that makes Blended sometimes just about watchable, are more of a depressing reminder of the fact Adam Sandler could be something better than he has seem to become in the last decade.
However, this being a Happy Madison production (ie: Sandler is the boss) these very few almost decent moments are almost swallowed whole by an overlong running time, moments of ‘comedy’ that are either lazy or rather badly misjudged, and a painfully cynical and predominantly predictable narrative that has had no effort put into it whatsoever.
Demonstrating just how little effort has actually been made by all involved; the running time that is a couple of a minutes shy of two hours shows, as per usual, the ridiculously lenient editing policy of Blended with scenes sometimes go on for far too long and some scenes really should have been left on the cutting room floor. In particular that includes any of the scenes that involve characters from Africa that are depicted with such a cringe inducing stereotypical and racist Western tourist point of view, it is actually very uncomfortable to watch Blended when they are on screen. The comedy is also often very uncomfortable and badly misjudged; such as the jokes surrounding the ‘personal’ habits of Lauren’s eldest son or the makeover of Jim’s eldest daughter from complete tomboy to stunning woman. Bearing in mind the age of these characters it often feels like extremely misjudged moments of comedy. The rest of the ‘comedy’ is just lazy and predictable, and so many of the apparently more sentimental scenes also quite cringe inducing. Like Every Adam Sandler film these days, Blended is not just rubbish; it is yet another detritus that is a deeply uncomfortable and unpleasant onscreen attack on the senses.
Blended, like so many mainstream films, seems to complacently think that lazy writing is enough as long as it ticks the right amount of boxes from some really basic narrative checklist. That may work if we had characters to care about that were well written or acted, but any film involving Adam Sandler these days, such as Blended, does not even try that, instead we are just given another film that is essentially an insult to all film viewers’ intelligence and tolerance.
Though there is undeniable chemistry between the two leads, and in the company of Drew Barrymore Adam Sandler almost appears slightly likeable, that cannot stop Blended from being yet another cynically written and cringe inducing insult to cinema from Sandler.