Rugger Review: Blended
Summary: After a disastrous blind date, Jim (Adam Sandler) and Lauren (Drew Barrymore) find themselves, through sheer coincidence, sharing the same family holiday to South Africa with their kids. Can their respect and admiration for each others children help their mutual attraction blossom?
After a string of critical and commercial duds; Grown Ups 2 (2013), That’s My Boy (2012) Jack and Jill (2011) in Sandler’s case, Big Miracle (2012) and Everybody’s Fine (2009) in Barrymore’s, it’s clear that both stars were hoping their previous chemistry could provide them with a career boost.
Blended is their third collaboration after The Wedding Singer (1998) and 50 First Dates (2004). But is their third time a charm?
Whilst failing to compare to The Wedding Singer (Sandler’s best film in my opinion) it does fall neatly into the same category as 50 First Dates; there is plenty wrong with it, including an all too convenient and predictable plot, but there is an inherent sweetness in Blended that makes it difficult to dislike.
The story kicks off during the worst blind date imaginable. Jim (Sandler) has brought Lauren (Barrymore) to Hooters, is too busy watching the game on TV to pay any attention to her and after a few too many embarrassing moments, he leaves after receiving a “bail-out” call, something Lauren also had planned.
Then, through several convenient plot hooks that are full of too many holes to count, Jim and his three girls and Lauren and her two boys find themselves at the same holiday resort in South Africa with no choice but to accept one another’s company.
From here, you could probably leave the cinema and still work out the ending. But believe it or not, it’s worth watching how it plays out. Unfortunately, as with most of Sandler’s films, it struggles with the tone. One moment of charm can be followed by slapstick toilet humour. For every joke that hits, the next misses by a mile.
Terry Crews, hilarious in Brooklyn Nine Nine, is wasted completely as a singing holiday rep, who has the most awkward timing and kills the momentum every time he appears.
The hit and miss ratio of the jokes is helped by the amount of jokes there actually is. Kevin Nealon shows up and steals the show as a fellow holidaymaker with a penchant for telling it how it is. Yet his new and much younger wife Ginger (Jessica Lowe) is so irritating that she almost drowns out every good joke that he makes.
Thankfully the film is saved by the chemistry between Sandler and Barrymore which, 16 years after their first effort, feels as fresh as ever. Sandler tends to tone down his toilet humour when Barrymore’s on board and it’s no different here.
The kids are also a saving grace. Blended finds a nice balance between the five children with each one having their own issue to overcome through the course of the film and for the most part they are a joy to watch.
The two hour run time is a tad much, considering anything with Terry Crews could have easily been trimmed off, but the pace never drags as there’s always something happening on screen.
It won’t win any Oscars, but unlike Sandler’s last few films, it shouldn’t bother the Razzies either. And if there’s one thing we can be eternally grateful for, it’s the lack of a Rob Schneider cameo.
Final Verdict: Blended thankfully harkens back to the Adam Sandler of old, a film that you really shouldn’t enjoy but will find it hard not to. Barrymore is a great foil for Sandler’s goofy persona, and other than a lengthy run time and a few too many indulgent characters, both adults and children should find plenty to take pleasure in.
Star Rating: 3/5
* Review by Stephen Connolly