Director: Frank Coraci
Cast: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kevin Nealon, Terry Crews, Joel McHale, Bella Thorne, Emma Fuhrmann, Jessica Lowe, Dan Patrick
Release Date: May 23rd, 2014
When I arrived at the screening of the new comedy Blended on Monday, look the theater was packed with critics and viewers who were eager (some more than others) to see the new Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore comedy. It was so packed, purchase in fact, that it was hard to find two seats together. Midway through the motion picture, however, a fire alarm forced the audience outside— a momentary inconvenience at best but when I arrived back in the theater, there were dozens of nearly-vacant seats.
That is why an Adam Sandler comedy will do.
Some members of the audience, including myself, were optimistic about the feature (especially with the inclusion of Sandler’s screen partner Barrymore, who previously starred with him in The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates). After half of it was over though–in fact after the very first scene–hopes for a fun night at the movies were quickly dashed.
The comedy opens with the likeable and divorced Lauren (Barrymore) suffering through a first date with the obnoxious and immature Jim (Sandler) at Hooters. She’s open for a fun time but after he spends his time watching the television behind her or staring at the breasts of the voluptuous waitresses, she’s tired of his silly antics (so, one assumes, are audiences). Of course, the duo go their own ways after the blind date but eventually reconnect when one of Jim’s three daughters starts “monster-rating” and Jim goes to the convenience store not knowing what package he needs to pick up for her.
Meanwhile, Lauren has found an adult magazine owned by one of her two sons with a headshot of his babysitter taped over a scantily-clad woman’s face. Lauren rips up the photo, only to regret the decision later and to go to the convenience store to replace her son’s magazine. Thus, Jim and Lauren have a moment of parental understanding at the store and through an unlikely series of events, both families end up on a trip to Africa where new “blended” families are being celebrated.
The two adults dislike each other and the comedy does little to overcome all of the clichés that arrive in such a situation (Jim and Lauren are given one romantic bed to sleep in, the parents begrudgingly fall in love, a jealous ex-husband stands in the way).
What makes this comedy stand apart is its obscene and crass comedy that arises at every pass. From the breast jokes to the urine puns to the sex sight gags, this seemingly innocuous comedy wastes most of its running time on inane jokes that grew tiresome the last twenty times they were featured in a Sandler comedy. One can imagine production assistants standing around on set saying “We haven’t seen one animal humping another one yet. We have to add that.” If such comedy wasn’t enough, the movie is pretty offensive in the ongoing joke that none of Sandler’s daughters look like girls and no one knows what to call them. There are several times when they are referred to as “sons,” which grows more cringe-worthy each time the subject is broached.
Like in other Sandler comedies, there’s supposed to be a positive message at the end (about accepting families, blending etc.) The greatest issue is the hundred minutes that occur before that reasonable message is achieved. Yes, Blended has a few laughs along the way including Jim’s youngest daughter using demonic voices to get what she wants but director Frank Coraci and his two leads are all capable of doing better than this (in fact, they all worked on The Wedding Singer together) but here, they all settle for the lowest common denominator.
It’s no wonder that the fire alarm at my screening served as such an incentive for viewers to leave the screening….and never return.
Review by: John Hanlon