I’ve just finished exorcising some demons about the latest X-Men film so I’m afraid this review is going to suffer a bit in the effort department. So here’s a sentence few people thought they’d ever hear from me: With X-Men: Days of Future Past and a new Adam Sandler movie coming out this weekend – see Blended!
Before anyone gets too crazed, do not fear, I have not gone completely mental. I fully realize (and you can read my reviews to prove it) that Adam Sandler movies generally come in one size these days: Large Pile of Crap. I have to go back to 2007’s Reign Over Me to find something I liked and back another three years to 2004’s 50 First Dates to find a comedy of his I’ll watch without the aid of alcohol, blackmail, torture, or some combination thereof.
With Blended, he’s gone back to the well of teaming up with Drew Barrymore (The Wedding Singer, 50 First Dates). That was probably a smart idea but before I get to how they did as a pair this time around, allow me to explain the title of this movie. You see, the people who made the movie would have you believe it has to do with the notion of blending together Sandler’s and Barrymore’s families (he with the 3 girls, she with the 2 boys).
Now if you’ve already spotted the Brady Bunch as source material, that’s nothing when you get to actually watching the whole movie. You see, Blended is a reference to this joining of families but it’s also literally what happened to the scripts of about twenty film and TV projects. There isn’t one original thought to be found in the entire movie. Instead, it’s a shot-gunned hodgepodge of themes, archetypes, and situations pretty much everyone has seen before.
Normally, I’d just cry foul, give the movie a poor rating, and chalk another Sandler movie up as unwatchable dreck. However, where Blended gets things right is in its supporting characters. There are a number of fun callbacks to characters from better Sandler films, Kevin Nealon and Jessica Lowe play a very funny couple Sandler and Barrymore end up spending time with, and then there’s Terry Crews. Seriously, how does one not smile when this man comes on screen? And that he’s the lead singer of a music group that works for the African hotel where the families all descend upon and continues to pop up in the film over and over again only makes this the binding element that keeps people like me from remembering how uninteresting the main characters are.
And so we come to the biggest problems: Sandler and Barrymore. I think they put about as much effort into this movie as I do grabbing a bag of Doritos from the pantry. But hey, if I could get paid ridiculous sums of money to grab a bag of Doritos out of my pantry, I’d eat a LOT more Doritos. (C’mon Doritos, you can sponsor just one film critic, right?) Here, Sandler plays a weepy widower and Barrymore’s marriage ended when Joel McHale cheated on her (I think he shot these scenes concurrently with the ones he did on Ted since it required no character changes).
Simply put, Sandler and Barrymore are bland here. I enjoyed their energy in previous romantic comedies but here I just kept waiting for one of the kids, Terry Crews, or some other side character to do something funny. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait too long and aside from this movie having about 15 minutes it could cut out to trim the bloated two-hour runtime, I reluctantly have to admit this was bordering on cute.
That said, I’m not going to buy this on DVD. I doubt I’ll stop channel surfing for long when it hits cable. But there are definitely some funny moments and you can do a lot worse in theaters right now (X-Men I’m shaking my head in disappointment at you again). If you just want a light comedy and wondered as I did where any redeeming factor of Adam Sandler had gone, Blended is here to break his impressive streak of being in my worst of the year list. For whatever that’s worth.
Blended opens in theaters on May 23, 2014 and is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language.
– Reviewed by Ian Forbes
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