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Entries in Blended [2014] (1)


Blended (2014)

Trip, Bro? Sure!

My love affair with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore as an on-screen couple is officially over. They won my heart and raised my expectations in The Wedding Singer, and made 50 First Dates tolerable, despite being generally terrible. Blended reunites them with Wedding Singer director Frank Coraci for a movie that banks on the audience's fond memories of their older, better team-ups. But there's little effort here, scripting-wise, acting-wise, or in terms of filmmaking to make the movie memorable--outside of Sandler's not-so-startling confession that he chose his last several pictures (including this one) based on which vacation destination they were set in.

Africa won the wheel spin this time, and became the backdrop for an alternate-universe Brady Bunch remake. Sandler plays a slob raising three girls. Barrymore plays a neat-freak raising two boys. Through a contrivance I still haven't figured out, both families wind up at a luxury resort in Africa--which happens to be hosting an event for blended households.

Cue the bickering parents and the obnoxious kids, whose happy ending is just one bit-of-sage-advice-from-an-unlikely-source away. The comic bits fall mostly flat, and the parenting insights (mixed-family or otherwise) are nonexistent. This is the perfect entertainment for low-information theatregoers who pick movies in the multiplex lobby the way most folks weigh burger options at McDonald's.

Blended is a bad film, but it's not awful. There was never enough potential in this mix of concept, creatives, and target market for it to be anything but safe, mostly harmless fluff.* The biggest tragedy here is the handful of bright spots in all the sitcom bleakness. Sandler's relationship with his youngest daughters is touching; Emma Fuhrmann and Alyvia Alyn Lind deserve a lot of props for almost wrenching a tear out of me (okay, I guess that means Sandler does as well).

But there's the problem: for every sliver of relatable/comedic/dramatic content, we're bombarded with masturbation motifs, gagging gags, and so much Mars/Venus bullshit that I'm convinced screenwriters Ivan Menchell and Clare Sera lifted half their screenplay from one of Sandler's "serious" projects.

At the very least, I had the pleasure of watching Blended with my wife on Sweetest Day. As Sandler/Barrymore fans, we'd been curious about just how bad the movie could be. Turns out the best way to watch this thing is at home, with a support structure in place. We laughed, we groaned, we yelled at the TV (okay, I yelled at the TV), and we returned the flick to Redbox the next day. Twenty-four hours later, we still joked about the jokes we made about the movie. Wait, does that qualify Blended as a "memorable comedy"?

*One might attribute the portrayal of the African resort workers as cartoonishly racist. And one would have a point. As the swinging, shimmying entertainment directory, Terry Crews pops to perform emasculating Oompa Loompa-type songs, andAbdoulaye NGom plays his wise but silly Willy Wonka. These aren't people, to the movie, but neither are the main characters, either.