As someone who has unfortunately watched more Happy Madison productions than she would care to admit, it has fallen upon me to review the latest offering from Adam Sandler’s latest offering. Blended marks the third collaboration between Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler; the first being The Wedding Singer, one of Sandler’s better efforts and an enjoyable movie if it happens to be on ITV3 when there is nothing else on. Eight years later they grace us with their second effort; 50 First Dates, which was less than memorable despite the duo stating that it was one of their personal favourites.
Director: Frank Coraci
Staring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Shaquille O’Neil, Terry Crews, Joel McHale & Wendi McLendon-Covey
Run Time: 117 Minutes
Release Date: Out Now
With a fairly cold opening in a women’s bathroom, the tone was fairly apparent form the start: uncouth and unclassy, the same as many of Sandlers endeavours. This was continued through the opening scene between the two leads as we find them on a first blind date in hooters – the most romantic of dinner spots – where Sandlers trademark “gross out” humor rears its disfigured head. A predictable skit where some food is too spicy for Drew’s character, she spits it out but theres no beverage as Sandler’s character acted like a douche and drunk it, so the obvious solution is to drink soup which she spills all over her top. This feeble attempt at nauseating humour is luckily not too apparent within the rest of the film as it relies heavily on misunderstandings, feeble parenting tropes and Terry Crew’s random musical interventions, appearing as a African Stereotype mixed with Michael Jackson – very odd indeed – but I am getting ahead of myself.
The two leads have predictably opposing family lives – Drew’s character Lauren is a divorcee who works as a closet organiser (WTF?) with two young boys; Tyler, the youngest boy, clearly having something akin to ADHD and perfected a way to instantly annoy any audience just by being present and the older boy which for the most part of the film is just called Frodo (so much I had to research to find the actual characters name, Brendon) is just an amped up teenage pervert who does not have a redeeming feature.
Sandler’s cohort are actually fairly human, his character Jim is a widower who works as a manager in a sports store and has three daughters; Larry (Hillary) a 16 year old athletic tomboy, Espn a mid-teen who speaks to their dead mother and Lou, the youngest and the funniest of the children. Throughout the film, Jim’s family actually felt plausible; three girls brought up by a sports loving father would have some issues being “girly” and trying to deal with feminine issues, this was dealt with well in the film but the opposing team of Lauren with two tween boys; dealing with them starting the appreciate themselves in a variety of inventive way was not handled as tactfully or with as much humour as it could have. The only thing that endeared me to that family was the star wars pinball machine in the pervert kids bedroom.
The pretence of the film was so implausible it does link to the idea that all Sandler’s films are now just paid vacations, it is mentioned so flippantly that you actually have no clue as to why a) Lauren’s family actually got on the trip as it is one that was bought by her friends fella before she broke up with him – it’s a bit weird asking your best friends ex to sell you the romantic trip he had planned for the two of them; and b) how did each family not know they would be on the trip together, surely the seats on the plane would have been all together plus wouldn’t the guy they were getting the holiday off mention it, even in passing.
Throughout the entire time spent in Africa, there is too much emphasis on the whole idea of the “Blended” family. It is shoehorned into as many scenes as possible and it is not funny in the slightest. It is so common nowadays for a family to be “blended” that this entire premise is not unusual, the humour is meant to be derived from the situation of them meeting and then being thrown together in a wacky situation. There is very little humour in any of this, most of the laughs come from the little girl, Lou, she was quite sweet and had some funny skits but it may have been a side effect of the sheer amount of alcohol I had to consume to get through this movie.
The film tries to combine saccharine sweetness with feeble stabs at comedy but the only really tender moments come surprisingly from Sandler himself. Throughout the film he manages to portray a loving father trying to raise three daughters after his wife died of cancer; he shows how difficult it can be as a dad to understand the girls and the funny moments that can arise from genuine misunderstandings in the family of a single dad. The best instances come from Jim and Lou near the start of the film, discussing the fact that Espn can speak to their mother and how much they miss her.
There were a few interesting uses of cinematography within the film which did make it a bit more bearable. The transformation scenes make good use of musical cues to convey tone and emotion: the first instance with Larry it was ideal as it showed how each person was affected by the change, the second instance with Lauren still works but the addition of a lesbian tone, it kind of detracts from the simple nature of the skit. If you have seen any Happy Madison film, you should already know what to expect before you go into the cinema. However, Sandler is refreshing in this movie with a fairly sympathetic role; less heavy on the slapstick, crude and general gross-out humour we are used to. Drew’s roles in her three collaborations with Sandler have diminished exponentially from a seemingly charming innocent in the Wedding Singer to a two-dimensional unbelievable disappointment. This film is not as bad as expected but it does need a lot of liquid help if you wish to sit through it.
- Sandler does portray a sympathetic character with some charm
- Lou does have a few amusing moments
- Good use of music cues and cutaways for a Happy Madison production
- Drew’s character is uninteresting and unsympathetic
- The two boys are just not funny
- Terry Crews interventions at stupid moments