May 23, 2014

SHOWBUZZDAILY Film Review: “Blended”


BLENDED:  Not Even For Free – A Bad Sitcom Episode, 4 Times As Long

On the Adam Sandler Movie Pain-o-Meter (patent pending), the new BLENDED ranks about midway between the not-so-bad Just Go With It and the soul-crushing horror of That’s My Dad and Jack & Jill.  It’s Sandler wearing his sentimental, romantic hat, which oddly is one that’s fit him well during his career, and it reunites him with Drew Barrymore, who co-starred in two of his previous rom-com vehicles, The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates–although this one is far inferior to both of those.  Here’s a 5-second quiz to determine whether you’re the target audience for Blended:  would a cute little girl saying, when her older sister is having her period, “she’s monster-ating,” give you the uncontrollable giggles?  If so, you’ve found your Memorial Day weekend activity.

“Predictable” doesn’t do justice to the obviousness of Blended, whose script, credited to Ivan Menchell and Claire Sera, is doggedly intent on fulfilling every single cliche promised by its first reel.  Will the little boy who’s awful at softball get a game-winning hit before the closing credits roll?  Will the tomboy-ish girl be revealed as a gorgeous young woman?  Will the superficial woman who says she can’t stand kids become a cheerful stepmom?  You can’t really call any of these things spoilers, because if you asked one of the insensate zombies on The Walking Dead to watch the first 15 minutes of Blended and guess what would happen next, they’d get a perfect score.  The biggest non-mystery, of course, is:  will schlumpy Jim (Sandler) and control-freak Lauren (Barrymore) overcome their awful first blind date and find blissful romance?

That opening sequence, with Sandler and Barrymore shooting daggers at each other over a dish of buffalo shrimp at Hooters (the movie never met a product placement it didn’t like), is about as good as Blended gets, but even there it doesn’t play fair:  Jim seizes the moral high ground when Lauren criticizes his choice of restaurant because while she’s a mere divorcee, he’s a widower (and, as it turns out, he has an impeccably sentimental reason to dine at Hooters).  Sandler, of course, produced the movie, which allows him to hold the upper hand at all times.  In any case, the pair leave the date certain that they’ll never see each other again, but of course that’s not going to happen, and after another chance encounter to establish how perfect they are for each other (he needs help buying tampons for his teen daughter, and she’s trying to replace her teen son’s porn magazine that she impulsively tore up when she found it under his bed–so it’s lucky that Jim is an expert on pornography), the plot’s big contrivance kicks in, and they find themselves sharing the reservation for a family vacation in Africa that their respective friends made before they broke up.

The one thing you can say for this middle section of Blended is that it’s not quite as visually ugly as the rest, as Sandler continues his tradition of working with his buddies as directors, no matter how untalented they are.  (Frank Coraci, who did this one, previously helmed Wedding Singer, The Waterboy, Click, and the Sandler-produced Zookeeper and Here Comes the Boom.)  The exteriors photographed by Julio Macat provide a break from the harshly lit interiors, and there are some pretty shots of wildlife.

The rest is labored and grindingly obvious, as Jim and Lauren bond with each other’s children (did I mention that Jim’s younger daughter is named ESPN?  Not a nickname–her actual name; these are the jokes, folks) and oh-so-slowly come to recognize that they have feelings for each other, all the way into a completely unnecessary third act that takes them back to Los Angeles.  It’s as though Sandler was charging Warners for each minute of film, and he couldn’t stand to delete even one.

Sandler and Barrymore once had on-screen chemistry together, but it’s mostly gone now.  Sandler barely even tries to do anything recognizable as acting, instead just repeating every schtick he’s been doing for twenty years and daring viewers (and Barrymore) not to love him, while Barrymore mostly looks embarrassed, as though she knows the only stop after this is a multi-camera network sitcom.  The children aren’t much better, although Bella Thorne manages to be likable as the older daughter.  Sandler cronies like Kevin Nealon show up (no Rob Schneider or David Spade for once).  Joel McHale, who must have lost a bet, has the thankless part of Barrymore’s douchebag ex-husband.  If anyone cared about political correctness in an Adam Sandler movie, this script would approach the line in its treatment of women (either ballbusters or bimbos) and the Africans at the resort (mindlessly grinning entertainers); when the movie is desperate for a laugh, it cuts to a pair of Indian tourists for a reaction shot.

Blended is less disgusting that some of Sandler’s worst, and Barrymore is at least pleasant playing flustered (Lauren is almost always flustered), but it runs two full hours, and it feels twice that long.  (You may wish it came equipped with commercial breaks.)  Sandler has become the laziest movie star imaginable, aside from the rare occasions where he commits to make a genuinely serious project (he has one coming up with Tom McCarthy, director of The Station Agent and Win Win).  In Blended, he seems like he barely managed to roll out of bed in the morning to get to the set.  Blended is the definition of a movie that isn’t worth the price of its ticket; you can definitely find something better to watch on TV.  Even if your TV is broken. 

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."