‘Blended’ is Lazy, Laugh-Free Catastrophe

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HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Two things save “Blended” from getting a zero star review. Number one is the still-palpable chemistry between Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. Number two is the occasional chuckle courtesy of Wendi McClendon-Covey as Barrymore’s business partner. Otherwise this is a barren laugh-free safari through Africa that doesn’t even have the benefit of Al Pacino trampling on his prestigious career for our amusement.

“Blended” never sinks to the astonishingly awful lows of “Jack And Jill” or “That’s My Boy.” Both of those films had ideas I couldn’t believe had ever made it to the silver screen. But I won’t soon forget them, as hard as I may try. “Blended” is painfully unfunny and bland and boring.

Drew Barrymore, Adam Sandler
Lauren (Drew Barrymore) and Jim (Adam Sandler) in ‘Blended’
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

I feel a little sorry for Barrymore’s career these days, because the closest thing she’s got to a dependable leading man is Sandler. He’s certainly no Tom Hanks. Sandler, as usual, is clad in outfits that even George Constanza would find to be the epitome of apathy and hopelessness; sweat pants are almost considered formal gear. This is Sandler and Barrymore’s third film together and you can see the reasons why. When they’re together her flightiness comes off as charming rather than insipid. And his overgrown man-child takes a few steps towards maturity even as Sandler himself proceeds firmly into middle-age. “Blended” also re-teams them with their “Wedding Singer” director Frank Coraci, but the best they can manage is to make the film blandly awful instead of an audience endurance test.

The film takes an uncomfortable turn into caricature once the two families arrive in South Africa on a specially designed week for blended families no less. Scene-stealer Terry Crews is unsettling to say the least as the leader of a South African chorus of resort entertainers who seem to pop up everywhere. He sashays, and shimmies and lets his gargantuan pecs try to wring laughs out of his leaden dialogue. Meanwhile, Happy Madison regular Abdoulaye Ngom plays a resort director who is asked to mispronounce names again and again, and again to diminishing returns. SNL alum Kevin Nealon, Shaquille O’Neal and sports broadcaster Dan Patrick also turn up.

Copious product placement has been a hallmark of Sandler’s films dating all the way back to the salad days of “Happy Gilmore,” but it’s extraordinarily lazy here even by the standards of latter-day Sandler vehicles. Here he literally has a daughter named Espn (or as you might know it better ESPN).

Bella Thorne, Adam Sandler
Bella Thorne is Adam Sandler’s Daughter Hilary in ‘Blended’
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Sandler doesn’t even bother to set up jokes anymore, he just yells things at the camera. He announces the situation and lets a would-be approximation of what he considers humor ensue. He’ll simply say “rhino” and expect that to do the job of entertaining the audience for him.

“Blended” never develops any comic momentum despite the likability of its leads. Their chemistry is obvious, but the script never lets them get out of their own way. It keeps throwing up obstacles for no other reason other than to seemingly pad out its already overlong running time. It’s all the more frustrating because Sandler has shown he has real abilities when he challenges himself outside his comfort zone with projects like “Punch-Drunk Love” and even “Spanglish.” When two talented people put together something this bad, it’s hard not to believe they didn’t even try.

“Blended” opens everywhere on May 23rd. Featuring Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Kevin Nealon, Bella Thorne, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Shaquille O’Neill, Terry Crews and Joel McHale. Written by Clare Sera and Ivan Menchell. Directed by Frank Coraci. Rated “PG-13”

HollywoodChicago.com contributor Spike Walters


© 2014 Spike Walters, HollywoodChicago.com

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