If you just watch the available trailers from Blended you may get the notion that this is a humorous film – it certainly tries to be, but not hard enough, or maybe too hard. That said, there are some funny moments, and for a presumably large segment of the movie-going population, Blended will be a welcome relief from violence and angst. The film doesn’t try to make any statements or call forth any great emotion, it just goes on its silly way, and that can be quite entertaining.
The biggest draw this movie relies on is the duo of Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler; the two have done very well together in the past with The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates. Both of them do the best they can with the plot and script, which offer very little in the way of innovation and tend to get more laughs from the slapstick variety of comedy than from any conversational gambits.
Example: on their initial blind date, Lauren spits her mouthful of ‘buffalo shrimp with hot sauce on the side’ across the table to land in Jim’s lap – too hot for her taste, obviously. That little contretemps leads to more and worse, to the point that neither wishes to see the other again, ever.
Drew as Lauren Reynolds is a single mother of two adolescent boys clearly suffering from the lack of a father figure – as we learn in a sort of explanatory melange of scenes in the Reynolds household. Adam Sandler as Jim Friedman is a widowed father of three girls clearly in need of a Mom, as we learn from more scenes in the Friedman household. The blind date is a horrific failure, however, so in order to get them all together it takes a fairly massive coincidence.
Unknowing, each parent plans a South Africa resort holiday as a family adventure, at the same place, at the same time and somehow they are stuck in the same suite – one big unhappy family. Both Lauren and Jim are determined to make the best of it for the sake of the children, of course, but of course they also find their own mutual attraction is growing, and the kids are all getting some of the Mom-ness and Dad-ness they didn’t know they were lacking.
Wendi McLendon-Covey, of The Bridesmaids, is excellent as Jen, Lauren’s best friend and a childless single woman who means to stay that way. She’s also the one who puts Lauren onto the African adventure, “Sun, sand, safaris . . .”, since she just broke up with her boyfriend and won’t be going herself. The boyfriend happens to be Jim’s boss, and you’ll never guess who winds up with his tickets.
The plot is hardly original, but at least a lot of the footage was shot in Sun City, South Africa, so the animals are legitimate anyway; the rest was filmed at different locations in Georgia. This is not a film where the kids steal every scene; in fact they seem just a tad wooden and they don’t get many good lines. However, kids will get most all the jokes and may enjoy them more than many of the adults.
Directed by Frank Coraci, who also directed the earlier Barrymore/Sandler hit The Wedding Singer, Blended is actually a pretty good vehicle for the pair, and there’s additional zest from a cameo appearance by the famed South African cricketer Dale Steyn, a supporting role played by Shaquille O’Neal as Doug, Jim’s co-worker and Joel McHale as Mark, Lauren’s ex.
Remember, this movie is a rom-com, and as such you don’t expect huge drama or violent emotion; it’s meant for enjoyment, and it will provide, but don’t forget the popcorn. Blended opens in the U.S. and the U.K. this weekend, 23 May.