Blended is the latest rom-com collaboration between Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. With a PG-13 rating, the film is mostly geared towards families and tweens, and felt more like an ABC Family film than a true romantic comedy. The film was directed by Frank Coraci, whose previous works include some of Sandler’s more successful projects, such as The Wedding Singer, Waterboy, and Click.
Jim (Adam Sandler) is a widowed father of three girls that manages a Dick’s Sporting Goods store. The obvious product placement throughout the film would only go unnoticed by a blind man sporting Ray Charles-style sunglasses. Lauren (Drew Barrymore) is a divorced mother, of two boys , who runs a closet organizing business called Closet Queens. The name for her business serves as a constant set-up for lesbian jokes, which is quite strange, since the term “queens” is usually reserved for gay men. I guess someone got their bigotry all wrong when they were writing the script. Jim and Lauren first meet each other on a blind date at Hooters (more product placement), but dislike one another and both lament to their same-sex sidekicks how awful the date was. Lauren’s sidekick Jen (Wendi McLendon-Covey) is her partner in Closet Queens and Jim’s sidekick Doug (Shaquille O’Neal) is a clerk at Dick’s Sporting Goods. If anyone can tell me one reason why Shaq is in this film, I’ll mail you a dollar. In a lame plot twist, Jim and Lauren both take their children on an African Safari vacation and the families end up spending their time together, where Jim and Lauren fall in love and help parent one another’s children. Blended can really be boiled down to a half-baked reverse Brady Bunch set-up, with exotic South Africa as its backdrop.
Blended is the third film in which Barrymore and Sandler co-star. It’s been 16 years since the first film they did together, The Wedding Singer, and ten years since their second film, 50 First Dates. There’s no denying that Barrymore and Sandler have chemistry and now in their forties, with children of their own, their utter cuteness still works on the silver screen. They may seem like an unlikely couple, but Barrymore’s adorableness somehow plays off of Sandler’s dry humor, and the two accomplished actors know that they can take their shtick all the way to the bank.
Individually, Barrymore and Sandler are both strong in this film and each contribute to its overall success. Barrymore does what she does best, looking awkward, while still seeming attractive in a girl next door type way, and exuding quirkiness better than Zooey Deschanel ever has. Sandler uses a nice pollination of his sarcastic wit and serious acting side, rather than dumb himself down to a Jack and Jill-level performance.
I was quite elated to see Wendi McLendon-Covey appear within the first five minutes of the film, and she delivered laughs by minute six that I don’t think Barrymore or Sandler could have elicited from anyone over 13, in that rapid of time. Proving her comedic talents most recently in television’s The Goldbergs, McLendon-Covey is hilarious and if given the right material she can really shine. It was unfortunate that she doesn’t reappear until the end of the film, but I’m guessing that was so Blended could steer clear of the dreaded R-rating.
For everything that Blended got right, whether it was properly executed running jokes about dick, masturbation, and tampons, which could be any girl’s favorite things, it also resorted to cheap one note jokes and fake disaster scenarios. Watching Barrymore spit-up on herself is not funny, and should be left for Seth MacFarlane’s next film. Further, watching Barrymore almost die during a parasailing scene, and then be miraculously fine insults my intelligence. If I wanted to feel that way I’d continue to believe that Lifetime’s True Tori is actually real.
There’s a reason most comedies clock in at 90 minutes and it’s because the entire story only needs that much time to be told. Blended is just under two hours and when you know how the film is going to end within the first few minutes, it really feels like a giant Jedi mind f*ck. There were three scenes that set up the big pay-off for the happy ending, and there only needed to be one, which would have nicely shaved off 20 minutes from the length of the film.
If you were born before 1998, then you know what to expect when going into a Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler romantic comedy. Based on that expectation, the film delivers. It’s funny when it needs to be and cute when you don’t want to admit so. Is it a simplistic formula dumbed down for mass audiences who couldn’t find a babysitter and need a film the whole family can enjoy? Sure. But based on those aspirations it succeeds and it’s the perfect film to watch when you’re stuck on a cross-country flight and your Xanax just kicked in.
Take a Drink: every time Eddy’s (Kevin Nealon) girlfriend shakes her boobs.
Take a Drink: every time the African Resort employees, led by Nickens (Terry Crews), sing “We are blending!”
Take a Drink: every time you see an animal during the safari.
Do a Shot: when you see the rhinos, “getting it on.”
Do a Shot: when Lauren (Drew Barrymore) and Jim (Adam Sandler) finally kiss, because you’ve been waiting two freaking hours for this amazing payoff. I hope it was worth the wait.
Shogun a Beer: when you realize you’re watching Adam Sandler riding an ostrich, and actually start to wonder if it’s CG or real.