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Even with a career as shoddy as his, Adam Sandler has always had a feather in his cap with his co-star Drew Barrymore. While neither The Wedding Singer or 50 First Dates are among the masterpieces of their decades, both are enjoyably light and have the added benefit of the stars sharing great on-screen chemistry with one another.
Well, after miss and miss and miss and miss in his ever-declining career post the refreshingly honest Funny People, it appears that Sandler is going to pull out his golden card, re-teaming with both Barrymore and their Wedding Singer director Frank Coraci in a last-minute attempt to put a turnaround on his career.
While Blended is slightly better than the last seven movies that he has been featured in (at least in voice form), there is still no denying that this third re-teaming of Barrymore and Sandler is yet another disappointingly slumming effort for everyone involved. Proving once again that Sandler values the time he shares with his cast in exotic locations than the enjoyment of his fans, this new “comedy” from Sandler and his gang is a decidedly lazy and unimaginative effort all around.
Centered on two single parents who, after a disastrous first date at Hooters, end up in each other’s company whenever a mix up causes them to join together in a family-based love trip to Africa, Blended often coasts on the chemistry of its leads rather than writing legitimately good material for its stars. While that may be fine in certain segments—as the movie’s few-and-far-between amusing moments are when the movie lets the two of them point jabs at each other’s company. This is not even close than enough to sustain the 117-minutes that the filmmakers wish to amuse its audience within.
For the record, no film that is in it just for the laughs should really be more than 110 minutes, max. If it is a drama, then that is fine enough, as an actual story can anchor the attention of its audience between comedic moments. While Blended half-assed-ly attempts to be dramatic, it is clear that no one involved is really put in their A-game for these segments, which makes the movie even more of a slog than it already is.
Now, granted, 50 First Dates did a lot of the same tricks. While it has been nearly 10 years since I have seen that movie in its entirety, I do remember there been at least a mild sense of genuine care centered in on its central characters. With Blended, however, neither the writers, the director or its actors ever bring none of this attention to its central figures.
Instead, they rely on Barrymore screaming on the top of her lungs in seemingly every other scene, and Sandler trying to mesh the old wisecracking jerk persona of the ‘90s with his newfound supportive dad act that he has been pulling through his most recent efforts. If the filmmakers don’t care about their characters, then why should we? It’s hard to be charmed by characters that aren’t even liked by the people that initially conceived them.
Additionally, the film also doesn’t even seem to create full comedic set pieces, as it often leads up to some big joke but then awkwardly cutting to the next scene. They make it seem like it has some actually planning in mind, before reminding us time and time again that they, indeed, did not put any effort into this movie once they set up production in Africa.
That said, even when they don’t put in their full capabilities for the movie's benefits, Barrymore and Sandler do still have a good and likable chemistry together. It is clear that they still have fun together, it’s just a shame that we couldn’t join in again this time.
Unlike Sandler’s other efforts, beyond his indie films like the excellent Punch-Drunk Love, there are elements of underlying dark comedy here that suggest that there might be a much funnier movie here than the filmmakers are letting out. Which, once again, reinforces everything that is wrong about this movie and Sandler’s career of late. Whenever you don’t put effort into your work, we can’t enjoy what you do.
Listen, if you and your friends wanted to go to Africa together, that’s cool. But why do you have to put us in pain for almost two hours while you do it?