Adam Sandler is not in the business of surprising people. The vast majority of films released under his Happy Madison Productions banner are comedies that aim for cheap, easy laughs with little character development or logical storytelling.
So it’s hardly a shocker that his latest, Blended, falls right in line with those that have preceded it. This time around Sandler plays Jim, a widower who is set up on a disastrous blind date with Lauren (Drew Barrymore), a recent divorcee.
Blended is not as bad as most of Sandler’s films, but it is the weakest of his outings with Barrymore.
Through a far-fetched series of events, the two separately manage to score a trip to Africa for themselves and their respective children. Once there, however, they discover that the trip is designed to bring blended families together for some bonding time. Thus, two people who can’t stand each other are forced to spend nearly every waking minute together for a solid week.
Sandler and Barrymore previously co-starred in two of Sandler’s better movies, The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates, so it’s reasonable to hope she’ll bring out the best in him again. And there are definitely moments of real emotion, along with more than a few scenes that strike the right chord of hilarity.
But because this is Sandler — who once again teams up with director Frank Coraci — anything that resembles normalcy is overshadowed by all manner of ridiculousness. A lot of it is funny the first time around, but Sandler and Coraci beat many funny bits into the ground long after the laughs have expired.
The plot is straightforward and so transparent it might as well be cellophane. Instead of giving us scenes where characters can actually breathe and grow, we’re treated to random ones in Africa that serve no purpose other than to trick the audience into thinking there’s actually something meaningful going on.
Sandler and Barrymore still play well off of each other, but early in the film both are so wooden that it seems like they’re reading cue cards. They get better as the film goes along, making the proceedings at least somewhat watchable. Supporting turns by Disney star Bella Thorne, who plays Jim’s tomboy daughter Hilary, and Terry Crews, playing an over-the-top entertainer at the African resort, are the best of the bunch.
Blended is not as bad as most of Sandler’s films, but it is the weakest of his outings with Barrymore. Sandler has the potential to make a movie that’s both funny and emotionally honest; he just doesn’t seem to want to do it.