LOS ANGELES — Drew Barrymore is obviously giddy, says she is emotionally charged and happily warns me that she might burst into tears.
“I just had a baby so I’m so hormonal from giving birth,” Barrymore says in an exclusive Sun Media interview. “So I might burst out crying! Please forgive me.”
There is nothing to forgive. Barrymore is showing her passion for family, life and her new movie Blended, her third collaboration with close friend Adam Sandler. Barrymore gave birth to her second daughter, Frankie, just four weeks ago but still committed herself to the full-bore responsibility of promoting the May 23 release.
This is her first movie since the family friendly Big Miracle in 2012. “I’ve been pregnant for three years,” she says with a laugh about why she has not been shooting more movies recently and may not work much in the near future. The 39-year-old Barrymore is only slightly exaggerating. Olive, her first daughter with husband Will Kopelman, an art consultant, was born in June 2012.
Strung out over 16 years, Blended follows The Wedding Singer (1998) and 50 First Dates (2004) as Sandler-Barrymore romantic vehicles. The plots revolve around how to get these two together despite being mismatched, or involved with other partners, or facing a unique challenge such as short-term memory loss. All three movies rely on Sandler-Barrymore’s screen chemistry.
“It’s only gotten hornier,” Sandler says jokingly at a press conference about their relationship since The Wedding Singer. “I love Drew. I’ve known her a long time. In all three movies, we had the pleasure of falling in love. In the first two, I faked it, but in this one I really did!”
“You faked it well,” Barrymore retorts.
“Thank you!” Sandler says with a mischievous grin.
Back in our private interview, Barrymore gets serious about her respect, admiration and platonic love for Sandler. All those elements made her eager to shoot Blended, a comedy which shows its heart despite the slapstick.
“I think, for me personally, I’ve always been attracted to guys who are funny,” Barrymore says. “My first crush was David Letterman (the talk show host), when I was a kid. But I also liked Ted Koppel (the Anglo-American news anchor). So I really love funny, smart men. Although Adam and I never dated and, weirdly, never even looked at each other that way, there is just an admiration there.”
This is the same admiration she has for co-stars such as Hugh Grant (Music and Lyrics), Ben Stiller (Duplex) and Edward Norton (Everyone Says I Love You) “and all these guys who are just so talented and quirky and interesting and so funny. I never dated them but you just look at them and you can pretend to be in love because there’s an attraction. I don’t think that is acting.”
Oddly perhaps, Barrymore does not mention Canadian comic Tom Green, whom she married in 2001 and divorced in 2002.
Barrymore continues: “Then Adam is a whole different level that transcends anyone else I’ve ever worked with, male or female. Authentic is a good word. I authentically love Adam in the sense that I have a partnership with him like with nobody else. We’re like Midnight Run meets Every Which Way But Loose meets Bringing Up Baby.”
These movie references are hilarious to put together, yet appropriate. Another interesting thing happens when Sandler and Barrymore work together. Sandler’s movies get a little more serious. Barrymore herself is a fan of genre movies that are fun or fantastical and yet still have strong human themes.
“You can have the most far-fetched concept, like in Back to the Future or in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, with time-travelling and aliens in your backyard. Yet those movies stayed at people’s homes in suburbia. Therefore they were grounded in some level of reality. So you believe in them and you relate to them.
“I think it’s a similar thing in comedy. You can have the craziest gags and the silliest comedy and super-broad shtick. But, at the end of the day, there are two human beings talking to each other about something that is real and relatable.
“With comedies like Blended, if they’re talking about something that is relatable, like trying to find love or making love work or being a good parent, things like that allow you to be with baboons and cheetahs in the next scene.” Blended is partly set in South Africa at a theme park resort.
Blended, of course, is not going to be ranked as an American classic. E.T. obviously is and serves as the ultimate goal for Barrymore every time she makes a new movie. Steven Spielberg memorably cast Barrymore as little Gertie, the alien’s best friend on Earth.
“That movie is a movie of perfection,” Barrymore enthuses, adding that watching it with audiences is “the collective experience of the most emotional, heartfelt, fantastical, symphonic swelling of the heart. We can only hope to be surprised and to feel those feelings when we see a movie — and that movie does it perfectly. It just makes you feel so emotional and sweet and tearful and joyful. It’s incredible!”
SANDLER'S HITS & MISSES
After appearing in five other flicks from 1989 through 1994, Adam Sandler broke out as a movie star in 1995’s crowd-pleasing Billy Madison. Since then he’s been one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, producing easy to digest comedic fare. So in honour of Blended, out next Friday, we take a look back at his biggest hits and misses from 1995 through 2013, an era in which Sandler vehicles have generated more than $3 billion in worldwide box office.
• Hotel Transylvania (2012): Sandler voices Daddy Dracula. With the sequel set for release on Sept. 25, 2015, this animation comedy remains Sandler’s biggest hit, with $358 million in worldwide box office. His live-action comedies do not usually travel as well internationally.
• Grown Ups (2010)/Grown Ups 2 (2013): Unless you adjust for inflation (and that gets confusing), Sandler’s recent comedy capers remain his biggest live-action hits. Both focus on old college buddies getting together years later. The first generated $271 million worldwide, with the sequel at $247 million.
• Click (2006): Director by Frank Coraci, who also did The Wedding Singer and the new Blended. Click is smarter than his usual fare. Sandler plays a man ruled and ruined by his time-rewinding TV remote. Worldwide box office: $238 million.
• Big Daddy (1999): Sandler becomes a foster father for all the wrong reasons with all the right results. Worldwide box office: $235 million.
• Just Go With It (2011): Liar Sandler gets into romantic hot water in Hawaii. Co-starring with Jennifer Aniston was a bonus, with worldwide box office peaking at $215 million. None of Sandler’s other releases hit $200 million, although You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Anger Management, 50 First Dates, The Waterboy and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry all came close.
• Little Nicky (2000): Playing the fun-lovin’ son-of-Satan was hell. Worldwide box office: $58 million.
• That’s My Boy (2012): This creepy comedy, with Andy Samberg as Sandler’s grown son, stalled Sandler’s career. Worldwide box office: $58 million.
• Splanglish (2004): The fade-out of this high-brow family comedy, directed by Oscar-winner James L. Brooks (Terms of Endearment), pushed Sandler back to juvenile comedies. It cost $80 million and flopped with $55 million worldwide.
• Eight Crazy Nights (2002): Sandler’s personal animation effort bombed when people choked on his Christmas cheer. Worldwide box office: $24 million. Even hardcore fans trashed him.
• Bulletproof (1996): Sandler teamed with Damon Wayans in a crime caper, getting dismal reviews and lousy worldwide box office at $23 million.
• Punch-Drunk Love (2002): I was astounded (and told him so) when art-film director Paul Thomas Anderson cast Sandler as his troubled protagonist. But I was wrong and Sandler was excellent in a complex role as a man obsessed with accumulating air miles. He should have been nominated for an Oscar as best actor but got cheated. The film earned only $24.7 million worldwide but was deemed an artistic success.
• Reign Over Me (2007): Mike Binder’s drama tanked at the box office with $22 million but earned Sandler good reviews for co-starring with Don Cheadle in this post-9/11 drama. The two play former college roommates who reunite over grief.
• Funny People (2009): While still flawed, Judd Apatow’s dramatic comedy was more reflective, intelligent and serious than most Apatow flicks — and Sandler was effective in the lead role. Worldwide box office: $72 million.
A GUIDE TO DREW AND ADAM’S FILM COLLABORATIONS
Including Blended, their new family comedy, good pals Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore have worked together three times. All three movies are comedies featuring them as star-crossed lovers or inappropriate romantic partners.
• The Wedding Singer (1998): Directed by Frank Coraci. Invoking the ’80s, Sandler plays a cheesy singer for hire at events. Barrymore plays a spunky waitress. Both are engaged to be married to other people who are absolutely wrong for them. Fate intervenes, Sandler’s bride jilts him at the altar, Barrymore’s fiance is a jerk and true love blossoms in the midst of comedy chaos.
• 50 First Dates (2004): Directed by Peter Segal. Living happily in Hawaii, Sandler plays a veterinarian who is a serial womanizer who will not commit. Then he meets the girl of his dreams, played by Barrymore. Sandler woos her ardently. Trouble is, she has short term memory loss and cannot remember him the next day. So he woos her again ... and again ... and again ...
• Blended (2014): Directed by Frank Coraci. Sandler plays a sporting goods store manager raising three daughters alone. He has not gone out with anyone other than his late wife since high school, but a blind date gets things going. Barrymore plays a single mother with two boys and a sleazeball ex. She organizes wealthy people’s closets. The Sandler/Barrymore blind date is a disaster but a plot twist forces the two families to “blend” on a holiday extravaganza to South Africa. The question is: Will true love blossom once again?