Blended is Drew Barrymore and Adama Sandler’s third movie together after The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates. Evidently that’s a thing now. Like they make a romantic comedy of sorts with each other every ten years. Because it’s a thing we’re supposed to think fondly of their return to the big screen.
The problem is that after Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2 it is physically impossible to think of Adam Sandler fondly anymore. He has spent and and all good will he’s built up previously and now any movie starring him should be an instant red flag of suck. With the bar set so incredibly low is it actually a good thing to say that Blended is surprisingly not the worst movie ever? No, I suppose that’s still a bad thing.
Director: Frank Coraci
Release Date: May 23, 2014
Blended does ditch Sandler’s more idiotic tendencies of his last few films for a more straight forward romantic comedy feeling. Jim (Sandler) is a recently widowed man with three daughters. Lauren (Drew Barrymore) is a recently divorced mom with two sons. The two go on a blind date that goes horribly, but after that they keep running into each other until terribly unbelievable circumstances find them at a resort in South Africa staying in the same room. There the two get to know each other as comic highjinks ensue and Terry Cruise fronts the most random appearance of a Greek Chorus in any film ever.
Yes, I said Greek Chorus, and that’s where Blended does actually diverge from previous Sandler films: it is not smart, but it isn’t the dumbest thing on screen ever. The comedy actually does lean more towards heartfelt than gross out, which is an achievement and at times it’s actually funny. Barrymore and Sandler are actually good on screen together and every so often you’re reminded of what Sandler can do beyond his stupid voices and increasingly unfunny comedy. Even the kids are tolerable, something Sandler films almost never manage to achieve.
That all being said, Adam Sandler still rides and ostrich. Not even Barrymore’s charm can save some of the more contrived scenes, and when Sandler is alone on screen being funny he is tragically not. There are still painfully unfunny stretches in the film where the humor is just horrible. Even worse is when it gets offensive as it often stereotypes Africans as servile and simple. Other time serious cases of child abuse and mockery are supposed to be found funny. There is not enough good to turn this into an actually good comedy, but there isn’t enough bad to make it entirely intolerable.
The uneven comedy stretches into the drama as well. Blended is surprisingly family oriented, and while you wouldn’t want to bring young children to it it actually does veer towards a family film. There’s far more depth than you’d expect, especially after Sandler’s previous shallow films. Then again the emotional side of things, which works often thanks to Barrymore and Sandler themselves, gets interrupted by a horrible joke and completely destroyed. There’s glimmers of better things all over the place in this film, but it never actually commits to really delivering.
The movie is also horribly cliche in every aspect. No one would expect much more from it I suppose, but the check list of beats it hits is about as predictable as the Oscars running long. While you can argue that Barrymore and Sandler can pull the movie through thanks to not being entirely annoying, by the end of the film you’ll be silently wording along with the actors because it’s that easy to know what’s going to happen next.
All that being said, Blended is not the film that they’ll be screening in that very special circle of hell reserved for child molesters and people who talk in the theater. It is actually enjoyable enough to watch for free and without anything else to do at all and with the full knowledge that it will make you dumber. It does not make you want to gouge your eyes out in horror. It is not the anti-Christ. This is not a worse movie than Grown Ups 2. Not exactly praise, but it should take what it can get.