It’s certainly faint praise when the new Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore rom-com is the funniest movie Sandler has made in years. Considering the dismal ones he’s released recently — Grown Ups 2 and the first, That’s My Boy, Jack and Jill, Just Go with It, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry — it really wouldn’t take much to make a better movie than any of those. While Blended certainly doesn’t reach the level of charm as The Wedding Singer or 50 First Dates, Sandler and Barrymore still work well enough together to get us to the finish line without wanting to gouge our eyes out.
We first meet Jim (Sandler) and Lauren (Barrymore) on a disastrous blind date at Hooters where Jim is treated like family. The two immediately hate each other, but Lauren winds up the bad guy after she finds out that Jim lost his wife to cancer. On the homefront, Lauren is dealing with her two sons Brendan (Braxton Beckham) and Tyler (Kyle Red Silverstein) after divorcing Mark (Joel McHale). Meanwhile, Jim is dealing with the passing of his wife while being the clueless father to three girls: Hilary (Bella Thorne), Espn (Emma Fuhrmann), and Lou (Alyvia Alyn Lind). After Lauren’s best friend Jen (Wendi McLendon-Covey) ditches her boyfriend when he wants to take her on an African “familymoon,” Jim, Lauren, and all the kids wind up taking his place, with all the expected wacky hijinks in hot pursuit.
Considering all of the marketing for Blended features the African retreat so prominently, it’s surprising that they don’t even get there for 35 minutes. Director Frank Coraci — the man responsible for Here Comes the Boom, The Zookeeper, as well as Sandler’s Click, The Waterboy, and The Wedding Singer — takes way too long to get to that section of the movie. Then there’s at least another 30 minutes left in the movie after they all go home. In the meantime, the families of course learn that they need each other and life lessons are learned. Sandler and Barrymore bring the screen appeal we expect, even if Sandler seems like he is trying to drag Barrymore to his level. Thankfully, she never stoops down keeping the film from turning into the typical Happy Madison Productions disaster Sandler has become synonymous for.
Sandler still can’t find the best kid actors to fill his films, although his trio of girls fare far better than Lauren’s two brats. The best news, as I said, is that this is the most entertaining Sandler movie in years. Take that with a grain of salt. Be on the lookout for the usual suspects of cameos which are funnier than usual, probably because they work more like a greatest hits as most of them are playing characters from other Sandler movies. Kevin Nealon and Jessica Lowe play the world’s most obnoxious newlyweds, but keep things silly just wacky enough to come off as funny instead of well, obnoxious.
I admit I didn’t have much hope for Blended, and figured Warner Bros. was dumping this into the summer schedule since it comes just one week after their own Godzilla reboot proved a monstrous success and is up against X-Men: Days of Future Past. Considering Blended is the best Sandler movie in such a long time and how much his worst efforts have brought at the box office, he’s bound to have another surefire hit on his hands. So between Godzilla and Blended, Warner Bros. will basically be printing their own money all weekend long. Sandler fans will rejoice, everyone else should check expectations accordingly.
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