Blended – 2014
Director Frank Coraci
Starring Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Bella Thorne, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Shaquille O’Neal, Terry Crews, Joel McHale, Wendi McLendon-Cove, Kevin Nealon, Emma Fuhrman, Braxton Beckham
Screenplay Clare Sera, Ivan Menchell
The 3rd time out for Sandler and Barrymore gets started in a women’s bathroom stall at Hooters. Yes this is intentional. We are well past the phase were anyone is shocked by things like this. Sandler’s career started in the midst of the Farrelly Brothers revolution. As a result, most of the crudity expressed in his films has been derivative at best, sophomoric at worst. His stuff always works best when he injects sweetness into it. This is where Barrymore fits in.
It’s not that Barrymore is all that good of an actress. She has a light touch for physical comedy and she does not detract from the process. Her skill, even after all these years, is the Shirley Temple effect. There is a minimum of sensuality to what she does, but a plethora of sweetness. As Lauren, she is a pretty, woe-begotten, and newly single mother of two boys. Sandler’s Jim Friedman is a slightly frazzled father of 3 girls. I wonder why this movie is titled Blended?
The story is a combination of The Brady Bunch, Love Boat and Fantasy Island. It actually works as a tourist advertisement for South Africa as well. It plays like a Sandler’s production company wanted to take another vacation with the cast and their families. They got together, they had a few laughs, and they got paid.
Like many Sandler movies, there is a loose central theme tied together as much by the personalities of the leads as anything in the script. Add to this, quirky side jokes (kids with exorcist voices, old goofy men in chairs, Terry Crews leading weird chants about being “blended” and random old off-roading ladies being run off the path and crashing into desert trees. Sandler and Barrymore get to age gracefully before our eyes, while SNL friend Nealon gets to wear a wig and suck face with a girl half his age,
This time around just a little over half of the jokes bring a smile to one’s face, if not a laugh. The humor around the kids is just enough to work for kids on the cusp of puberty. It’s enough to make you uncomfortable as you wonder how much of the joke they really understand. You don’t want them to be bored, but you don’t want them believing the movie is funny once they get to the point where they reach the age of reason.
It’s nothing unexpected, but certainly it wasn’t a total waste of a Friday night.
(*** out of *****)