Review: ‘Blended’ is one of the sometimes almost half-tolerable Adam Sandler films

Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler have an not very nifty first date in "Blended." Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler have a not very nifty first date at Hooters in “Blended.”
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

‘Blended’
Director: Frank Coraci
Stars: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore
Rating: PG-13
2 (out of 5) Globes

“Blended” begins with Adam Sandler taking a blind date to a Hooters. Despite being a father of three daughters, Sandler’s Jim doesn’t notice Lauren (Drew Barrymore) is fuming, perhaps because he’s staring slackjawed at the World’s Strongest Man competition on the TV. Jokes are made and then he breaks out the news that his wife died from cancer. That’s the proven Adam Sandler formula: a mish-mash of broad bro yuks suddenly interrupted by heaping helpings of “heart.” The Sandler empire has made over 20 films and the operation has never gotten better at smoothing over these rough spots. In fact, they’ve gotten worse, because there’s no reason to fix what paying audiences won’t say is broken.

“Blended” is actually one of the “better” Sandler films, which is to say it’s sometimes almost half-tolerable. Barrymore is key: As in “The Wedding Singer,” she brings out…well, not a lot in her unfailingly lazy co-star, but something. Here, they’re warring single parents who are supposed to fall gradually in love when they wind up sharing a family suite in a lavish African resort. Which country they’re in is, of course, never revealed; hey, it’s only a continent. (It’s actually South Africa.) And the machinations it takes to get them there are both convoluted and nonsensical: Jim orchestrates it despite finding her a shrill, overprotective harpy.

The bulk of the film is regulated to regimented activities — safari, paragliding, ostrich riding — and to Sandler playing father figure to Barrymore’s two sons while Barrymore teaches Sandler’s daughters to stick to gender norms. But the heart is the budding romance, and “Blended” does come alive when their fights dissolve into flirtations — their weirdly palpable chemistry finally clicking into place. Even some of the emotional scenes are actually moving, as when Barrymore sings “Under the Rainbow” to his three, motherless daughters. Sandler himself has already played a widower, in “Reign Over Me,” one of his sporadic serious ventures. You can see his Jim retreating into his man-boy shell, using goofiness and occasional hostility to mask his grief, especially from his daughters.

Or is Sandler just being his usual remote and tired self? Most of the time, to be honest, he just seems to be in another Adam Sandler film, sleepily going through pop culture references and product placements. (Jim even wears his Dick’s Sporting Goods work shirt on a date.) When Jim uses his dead wife to drive a wedge between he and Lauren, it simply feels like an insincere attempt to make the film even longer than it is. Frankly, that “Blended” is genuinely sweet at all — which is to say about three or four times — is enough to overrate it.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.