'Blended' review: Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler have lukewarm reunion

Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler in

Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler in "Blended."

Rating

2.5 Stars2.5/5

Bruce Kirkland, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:50 PM ET

Blended, Adam Sandler’s new rom-com, messes around in the murky middle. It is charming and funny enough — and turns the trick often enough — that it becomes a guilty pleasure. It is awkward and awful enough — with Sandler playing the idiot again — that some of the charm and a lot of the funny is compromised.

The charm comes from reuniting Sandler with Drew Barrymore, his co-star in The Wedding Singer (1998) and 50 First Dates (2004). They share a deep, reality-based friendship which easily translates into onscreen chemistry in their movies. Barrymore brings out the best in Sandler. She softens him, lets him grow up a little, makes him more man and less child. He seems to make her genuinely giggle and laugh.

Naturally, the main plot point from the two other movies is repeated: Sandler and Barrymore play people who obviously belong together but let other nonsense get in the way during acts one and two. By act three ... well, take a wild guess at the outcome because it is the journey, not the destination, that counts in one of Sandler’s romantic comedies.

In The Wedding Singer — which was directed by Frank Coraci, who also directs Blended — the hurtle keeping them apart is that both parties are engaged to others as the story begins; in 50 First Dates, former womanizer Sandler falls head-over-Hawaiian-heels but Barrymore suffers from short-term memory loss and cannot remember him the next morning; in Blended, the two start off with a horrendous blind date and soon recoil in horror when their “blended” families take a South African resort holiday — at the same time, in the same lovers’ suite! Cue the sarcasm and some emotional fireworks.

Meanwhile, Blended also relies on a lot of family stuff, because Sandler’s character has three daughters and Barrymore’s character has two sons. He plays a widower and she has been jilted by a scumbag who occasionally shows up to ruin things.

Two of the girls are interesting characters: Bella Thorne (from the Disney Channel) is a break-out for her role here as the tomboy teen; and blue-eyed blond child star Alyvia Alyn Lind (who appeared in the sci-fi horror movie Dark Skies) gives Blended some of its best heartfelt moments. Among adult support players, Sandler’s pal Kevin Nealon teams with comedienne Jessica Lowe to play a completely crazy Canadian couple on holiday at that African resort, while Wendi McLendon-Covey (Bridesmaids) spikes the comedy with great one-liners as Barrymore’s pal.

The most troubling aspect of Blended comes in the African sequences, which seem racist in their stereotypes, or at least silly in their caricatures. Yet, at the same time, Terry Crews’ relentless appearances as the leader of a musical crew at the resort get funnier as they get more outlandish. Crews and company operate like a Greek Chorus run amok with music and suggestive sexual innuendo.

In fact, even though Blended looks like a family comedy, there is a lot of naughtiness that pushes the envelope. So parents should be wary — if you are not already on high alert because this is an Adam Sandler comedy. For example, if you think that a scene showing copulating rhinos is obscene and inappropriate for your kids, just don’t go. If you find that mildly amusing, there is plenty more where that came from.

Twitter: @Bruce_Kirkland

bruce.kirkland@sunmedia.ca


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