What would an Adam Sandler movie be without puerile sexual humor, stereotypical characters and violent, random slapstick?
Probably a lot funnier.
Of course, if you’re already a Sandler aficionado, those are the things you’re hoping to see, and no review will diminish your interest. “Blended” at least has a few elements that make it tolerable for non-fans, up to a point.
The first is Drew Barrymore, co-starring with Sandler for the third time (after “The Wedding Singer” and “50 First Dates”). She softens his doofus frat boy persona, and he gives her an edge that most of her romantic comedies lack.
As hapless single parents Lauren and Jim, they start out despising each other after a miserable blind date (at Hooter’s, sharing product placement honors with Dick’s Sporting Goods). Thanks to a mix-up involving Lauren’s child-averse best friend (Wendi McClendon-Covey), their families end up sharing lodgings on a deluxe vacation to South Africa.
This brings out the second mitigating factor, which is the cute kids. Sandler has great chemistry with children, and Jim gets some sweet moments with his three daughters, particularly during discussions about their late mother. He also connects with Lauren’s rambunctious sons, whose dad (Joel McHale) shows little interest in them.
Jim and Lauren aren’t exactly stellar parents — he treats his girls like boys; she lets her kids act like lunatics — but they successfully combine their skills, hence the title.
The setting allows for a few entertaining adventures, and director Frank Coraci captures lots of beautiful scenery. That’s not enough to distract from the constant crotch and boob jokes, or the fact that the locals are either grinning and subservient or just plain lazy. It’s nice that “Blended” showcases the natural wonders of South Africa, but writers Ivan Menchell and Clare Sera seem to have forgotten what century it is.
Compared to some of Sandler’s earlier work, “Blended” is downright sophisticated, and it has a little in common with films that weren’t churned out of his Happy Madison production company, especially “Spanglish.” When he shuts down his inner 12-year-old, Sandler has grown-up talent (see also “Reign Over Me” and “Punch-Drunk Love”).
That’s not what sells tickets, though, so expect an indefinite future of adolescent high jinks. Imagine what he’ll do with a nursing-home setting in 30 years. And weep.
Rated PG-13 | Time: 1:57