22nd May2014

Blended ‘Review’

by Jack Kirby

Stars: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Kevin Nealon, Terry Crews, Joel McHale, Bella Thorne, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Shaquille O’Neal | Written by Ivan Menchell, Clare Sera | Directed by Frank Coraci


If the phrase ‘Adam Sandler-starring romantic comedy’ doesn’t fill your heart with dread and terror then you’ve probably not been paying too much attention to film criticism in recent years. That’s okay, neither has Adam Sandler. The reviews are generally terrible and yet Sandler has rolled out at least one comedy every year since 1998, which is undeniably impressive. Presumably these films make money, else he wouldn’t be able to make them and therefore it’s logical to suggest that people are going to see them. It’s almost as if the general public couldn’t care less about critical opinion. Huh.

I wouldn’t include myself as a member of the critical fraternity, by the way. I consider myself a film fan who enjoys reading, writing about and studying the subject well enough to string a few coherent sentences together about my opinions having seen a film, but I’m not sure that really counts as criticism. I do heed the advice of critics, however, and as such find myself not having seen a great deal of Adam Sandler films having been warned against them (the most notable of the few exceptions being not unfavourably reviewed Funny People, though I thought that was too long and too boring). It was slightly odd then, to be faced with viewing a film I felt fairly sure in thinking was going to suck, but not having the personal experience on which to base that opinion. I therefore tried to approach Blended with as open a mind as possible.

Sandler stars opposite Drew Barrymore for the third time as widower Jim to her divorcee, Lauren. They go on a disastrous blind date only to be flung together through convoluted circumstance on a shared safari holiday in South Africa with their children (Braxton Beckham and Kyle Red Silverstein for Barrymore and Bella Thorne, Emma Fuhrmann and Alyvia Alyn Lind for Sandler) in tow. Hi-jinks, capers and romance ensue.

To cut to the chase, Blended is complete rubbish but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I laughed on a number occasions. Never actually at something Adam Sandler did, mind you, but I did laugh nonetheless. It seems to be have been written and performed with the level of professionalism you might associate with a particularly lackadaisical sixth form film club (with apologies to sixth formers everywhere). As such, there’s almost a kind of ropey charm to it, but that fades away once the millions of dollars it cost to put this nonsense on the screen is taken into consideration.

Scenes transition awkwardly, jokes are broader than the Serengeti itself, the film has dumb attitudes to both sexes (women do makeovers! Men do sports!), the episodic nature of each scene gives the film a modular, assembly line feel and just about every character is boorish, annoying or stupid. It’s also frustrating how the characters refer to Africa as if it’s a country rather than a continent on all but one occasion.

Terry Crews (not to be confused with Tom) does provide some amusement as hotel entertainer Nickens, though the film’s portrayal of its South African characters in general doesn’t sit particularly easily. I did like that the theme of the holiday was for non-traditional families to ‘blend’, though the ‘boys need a father figure/girls need a mother figure’ message that the film implies by its bringing together of Jim and Lauren (oh, sorry, ‘spoiler’) rather undermines this.

It’s nice enough looking at the safari scenery and the broadly upbeat feel of the thing is acceptable but the film loses even these small merits and all momentum in the utterly predictable final act back home in the States. Another misstep was the decision to have one of Jim’s daughters still talk to her dead mother and morbidly behave as if she is still with them. It’s kind of a bold move to attempt to address this sort of issue but it doesn’t sit so well alongside the masturbation jokes.

I couldn’t hate the film – mostly because it’s difficult to get too worked up about something so inconsequentially rubbish, but I had been hoping for something even fractionally more challenging or witty. Nonetheless, as sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti, plenty of people will still go see it and Sandler will keep making his films and we can all do this again next year.

Blended is released across the UK from Friday (May 23rd).


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