*** (out of 5)
May 23, 2014
Adam Sandler as JIM
Drew Barrymore as LAUREN
Kevin Nealon as EDDY
Terry Crews as NICKENS
Wendi McLendon-Covey as JEN
Emma Fuhrmann as ESPN
Bella Thorne as HILARY
Alyvia Alyn Lind as LOU
Joel McHale as MARK
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Frank Coraci
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Over the past four or five years, Adam Sandler has been consistently responsible for some of the absolutely worst movies to be released in American cinemas. He has become notorious for this. In fact, his name has become synonymous with terrible, horrible, no good, very bad movies. It’s gotten so bad that people don’t even remember the good ones he did in the 90s and early 2000s.
He has made good movies before, you realize? His early films like “Billy Madison” and “Happy Gilmore” are juvenile comedies, but they’re pretty funny and clever at times. His romantic comedies (including two with Drew Barrymore: “The Wedding Singer” and “50 First Dates”) are actually quite charming and have a degree of heart to them you don’t seen in his recent films.
I don’t know if it’s because he’s working again with Barrymore, that he’s changed studios from Columbia to Warner Bros. or that he’s dumped Dennis Dugan as his go-to director and worked with Frank Coraci, but his latest film “Blended” actually isn’t that bad.
It’s not flawless, mind you. There are plenty of jokes that fall flat, and the movie has some pacing and logic issues to it. It overstays its welcome with a 117-minute running time, and the PG-13 jokes make the film not-quite-perfect for family viewing. However, compared to movies like “Jack and Jill,” “Grown Ups 2” and “That’s My Boy,” “Blended” is like “Citizen Kane.”
In the film, Sandler and Barrymore play single parents who end up sharing an African vacation with their kids. In order to keep their vacation package, they have to stay together, which results in the two families learning to work together. Add some elements of your standard rom-com, bake at 350 for an hour, and you’ve got a movie.
Previously, Adam Sandler movies have followed a painfully rote formula: 1) Make Sandler’s character ridiculously wealthy, 2) have him married to or dating an insanely gorgeous woman that is way out of his league, 3) come up with a scenario instead of a plot, 4) cast all of your out-of-work actor friends and 5) set the movie in a cool location so you all can take a paid vacation.
Sure, “Blended” features a lot of actors from the Happy-Madison family, and there’s the whole exotic location of Africa (which is probably one of the most forced things in the film, but by the end, I just accepted that). However, there’s at least a bit more care taken with the script. Sandler’s character isn’t as complex as the one he played in “Punch Drunk Love,” for example, but there is a certain amount of growth and depth to it with him as a working-class dad dealing with raising three girls after his wife dies of cancer. He’s not just a buffoon inexplicably boinking a supermodel.
There’s also the familiar and warm chemistry between Sandler and Barrymore. She is given plenty to do in the film, so it’s not just a movie about Sandler with her in a supporting role. They share the screen, which makes the relationship stronger. Plus, even though Barrymore is a former Guess Jeans model and has graced the pages of Playboy multiple times, she’s not supermodel material. She’s accessible in this role, coming across as a regular person rather than one that has a stylist and make-up person at her beck and call 24×7.
“Blended” is not nearly as good as Barrymore and Sandler’s other collaborations, but it still has some fun entertainment value and it shows that Sandler is still capable of not just making crap all the time.