PLOT: Two single parents (Adam Sandler & Drew Barrymore) suffer through a disastrous blind date, but then coincidentally find their families “blended” together on a dream vacation to South Africa. Hijinks ensue.
REVIEW: Throughout my career at JoBlo.com, I doubt I've ever been as consistently hard on a performer as Adam Sandler. Once upon a time I was a fan of his, but alas you can't be sixteen forever. While his audience has matured, Sandler's still making precisely the type of movie that made him a mint in the late-nineties/ early-aughts.
But why be so hard on him? Clearly he has a (dwindling) fanbase? The thing that I hate about Sandler is his laziness, which I feel borders on contempt for his audience. The man has talent – there's no question about that. If he didn't he would have never pulled off PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE, and while SPANGLISH, REIGN OVER ME, and FUNNY PEOPLE were not well received, he was good-to-great in all three. Maybe he has fun making comedies, but it feels like somewhere along the way he gave up on trying to really be funny, just settling in for easy, dumb laughs, and the kind of sophomoric vehicles he ridiculed in FUNNY PEOPLE.
It's gotten to the point that all of his movies are the same, and the only thing that distinguishes BLENDED from GROWN-UPS or JUST GO WITH IT, is that this re-pairs him with Drew Barrymore, with whom he's admittedly had some chemistry in the past. Barrymore can't help but bring some heart to whatever she's doing, but she's fighting a losing battle here, with a movie that's either stunningly unfunny or ludicrously maudlin, all tied-up in the “family values” package that's become Sandler's bread and butter over the last decade or so. By comparison, this makes their first (and most enduring) pairing, THE WEDDING SINGER, look like a minor classic.
Here, Sandler plays a widower, and probably the only thing one truly has to give credit for is that he makes for a convincing family man – a role that comes easier to him than the lady killer parts he used to play. Still, he's just not funny anymore, and what's worse is that he doesn't even try. All of his jokes are recycled from his other films, with the already-infamous ostrich riding scene being no different from any of the cgi animal attacks in the GROWN UP movies. And oh look, the bickering couple (which of course – are doomed to fall in love) wind up seated at the table with an uncomfortably affectionate, and gross couple. How many times has Sandler done this joke? And how many times has the male half of the couple been played by Kevin Nealon?
What's even worse is that so much of BLENDED opts to tug at the heartstrings, only to constantly cut away to humping rhinos or something else that's just as dumb. Does anyone find crap like this funny? Maybe the only nice thing I can say about BLENDED is that the Sun City location shooting in South Africa is pretty, and that of the cast, the only one who ever comes close to making us laugh is Terry Crews, but even his bit is milked to death.
Of course, a Sandler movie is critic-proof, so if you're reading this trying to decide whether or not you should go see BLENDED, I'll admit that as bad as this is (and it's bad) it's at least a bit better than the GROWN UPS movies, or JUST GO WITH IT, but just by a hair. At 117 minutes, it's oppressively long, and I truly didn't laugh once, but I haven't had an honest laugh at one of his movies since at least as far back as YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN. There is a silver-lining through. Sandler's next two movies are straight-up dramas pairing him with directors Tom McCarthy and Jason Reitman. Can this be a sign that he's switching gears? I certainly hope so, as I don't think I can suffer through another BLENDED.
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