Blended Review

Blended

It’s widely accepted amongst movie fans that due to his oddball turn in the excellent Punch Drunk Love, Adam Sandler should be absolved of all his previous sins against film.

Yeah, I’m looking at you Jack and Jill.

But Sandler really is pushing it with Blended.

This is a film that’s quite clearly designed to recapture the Sandler-and-Drew-Barrymore magic of Fifty First Dates, a film that itself was clearly designed to recapture the Sandler-and-Drew-Barrymore magic of The Wedding Singer.

Sandler plays Jim, a laid-back guy who manages a sporting goods store and named one of his kids after his favourite sports network.

Barrymore plays Lauren, a high-strung gal who is so uptight that she keeps a colour-coded activity calendar in the kitchen and labels all her shelves.

And just in case you didn’t get the message, the writers have additionally lumbered her with an improbable job as a professional closet organiser.

We get it: she’s ultra-organised and he’s a bloke.

Suffice to say, these are not the most nuanced characters ever committed to screen. But hey, it’s a fluffy, by-the-numbers romcom, so let’s go with it.

Both are effectively single parents, though Lauren does have a stereotype deadbeat ex who pops up whenever the plot demands it.

Neither Jim nor Lauren have been on a date in decades, both having selflessly devoted time to their broods, respectively a trio of androgynous tomboys and a pair of budding sociopaths.

As with the preceding Barrymore-Sandler films, which relied on exotic backdrops such as Hawaii and, er, the eighties, this film shifts location to South Africa. I won’t even try to explain the spurious sequence of events which allows this to happen.

Anyway, the two families find themselves shacked up together for a week’s holiday. Initial friction melts away as Jim slowly but surely teaches Lauren to loosen the reins on life, whilst Lauren teaches Jim to let go of the past.

Oh, and they both become better parents in the process. Roll credits.

The main issue is that Sandler and Barrymore are some sixteen years older than their Wedding Singer days. As such, the focus of their interaction is more play-date than puppy-dog romance, with the film see-sawing uneasily between wholesome family fun and lowbrow risqué humour.

There are a tad too many oedipal references for one thing.

And the Africa section is bookended by such lengthy stretches of suburban drudgery that you wonder why the holiday is included at all, if not to provide a fresh background for Sandler and Barrymore to rehash their old routine.

But the biggest problem with the film is that it simply isn’t funny. It’s lazy and it’s tired, and there isn’t even a Rob Schneider cameo to take the blame.

The biggest recurring joke involves an over-the-top Terry Crews and his singing troupe. If you find that funny, then you’re in luck: there’s plenty of it.

Oh, and the film climaxes with an underdog kid scoring a home run. If that isn’t too cliché-ridden for you, then this just might be a cinematic treat.

Conor Brennan

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