Blended (2014) – Review

Directed by Frank Coraci
Written by Ivan Menchell, Clare Sera
Starring Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Wendi McLendon-Covey

Okay, I think we can all accept a few honest, albeit uncomfortable, truths. Firstly that Adam Sandler really needs to up his game and secondly, that we already know the moral of this story before it’s half an hour old. Every kid, be it girl or boy, really needs the love of a Mum and Dad. It’s sweet, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that Sandler is still trying too hard to reach his previous lofty heights by attempting to play roles that just don’t suit him.
If we’re honest with ourselves (and we really should be, we deserve it) then there is the chance that we would be forced to admit that we didn’t honestly expect too much of this effort before paying our money for the privilege. As such, to judge it too harshly may be unfair, but lets not even try to blow smoke up Sandler’s ass here (or Barrymore’s for that matter).
There are hints here of the Sandler that became so globally admired and popular (Little Nicky, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy) but that Sandler doesn’t appear often enough here to carry a movie that genuinely needs to be funnier and rougher around its edges than it is. Something a bit racier is what Sandler fans are screaming out for and this is not it. It is touching and tender on occasion and there is even the odd joke that hits home, but overall, Blended really lacks the bite Sandler fans need, to get excited about his career again.
The title of the film refers to a definition of two halves of two families joining together to make a whole one. It doesn’t have to be exactly half, of course, but its generally accepted that it applies to one parent and their kids meeting another parent and their kids, starting a relationship which, if the blending pays off, means one bigger, societally more complete, family. This may be quite the fashion in the US, but personally, this was a new one.
After being set up on a blind date, Jim (Sandler) and Lauren (Barrymore) agree that they are probably not meant for one another. He takes her to Hooters (for reasons that will become clear in the fullness of time) for spicy shrimps, an experience she really does not appreciate. Through one thing and another (the on/off relationship of Lauren’s friend Jen (McLendon-Covey)) both of these single parents end up taking their various offspring on the trip of a lifetime to South Africa. It is here that they meet up again. Needless to say, neither of them are too happy about it.
Now if you’re not already two or three steps ahead of the script at this point, then you must be watching this with your registered care worker who is also probably holding your popcorn, because it is so predictable Jane Seymour could have read her tarot cards and told you the outcome. The performances are all good enough (with one very notable exception), but nobody soars as we would hope, given the narrative. Ultimately, this should be life-affirming stuff. If Sandler is going to settle for less than he is capable of, then he should at least try and do what he settled for as well as possible.
What we actually get is a sometimes sweet, mostly saccharin, tale of two single parents that love their kids above everything else, but understand that they need love too. If their love is going to work, however, then it has to work for their children first, otherwise, neither of them could even entertain the notion. All very admirable, I’m sure, regardless of the amount of reality you can associate with that idea.
Overall, it is a well shot, undemanding popcorn flick that will fill the best part of two hours of your life that you will probably want back by the end. Up to you, but I’d avoid it until you have nothing to do one afternoon and it shows up on your tv guide, which it most certainly will before long.

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