The third time is not a charm, especially when the first two were nothing to write home about. Blended, the latest film by director Frank Coraci, reunites Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore as two wayward single parents who must fight through a number of impossible meet-cutes to arrive in Africa together — apparently sharing the same vacation tickets — for a holiday of wonder. As romantic comedies go, this movie ticks all the boxes and some that don’t even belong to the genre. As comedies go, there is no bigger mess. Blended is one of the worst comedies I have seen.
Barrymore and Sandler first worked together on The Wedding Singer (also directed by Coraci), and over the years it has weaved its way into popular culture as a cult favourite; the kind of movie you see in anticipation for a wedding but not when the wedding involves someone you know. Their second collaboration was in 50 First Dates, a movie I have not seen except for its trailers, and when they say a movie’s best parts are in its trailers, I’m inclined to believe them.
Here, Sandler plays Jim Friedman, a widower with three daughters and a job at Dick’s Sporting Goods. His best friend is a tall black co-worker who strangely resembles an overweight Shaquille O’Neal. Oh wait, that is Shaquille O’Neal. Two of Jim’s daughters look like boys, and his youngest is fixed to be one of those stereotypical 6-year old girls who holds the fate of the plot in the palm of her hand (think back to Robin Williams’ youngest child in Mrs. Doubtfire). The eldest, Hillary (Bella Thorne), is gorgeous but has low self-esteem. The middle girl, Espn (Emma Fuhrmann) — visualise her name all in upper case — converses with her mother from beyond the grave and even reserves a seat for her at dinners. She is the most endearing of all Blended’s characters, and the only one not shooting herself in the foot and expecting it to be funny.
Barrymore plays Lauren Reynolds, a closet organiser who has recently been divorced. She has two boys, both of whom deserve death by firing squad in slow-motion. As the movie opens, they terrorise a babysitter by parading a flaming shirt around the kitchen and dousing it with a fire extinguisher that later douses the babysitter. The older one, Brendan (Braxton Beckham), has a crush on the sitter and pastes photographs of her face onto porn model centrefolds. Tyler (Kyle Red Silverstein), his brother, sucks at baseball. He can also try out for next year’s Elephant Tusk Gymnastics.
All five children represent today’s generation of youngsters, who believe adamantly that they are the parents of the household. 99% of your time as a parent should be devoted to your kids, Jim says during a romantic dinner under the African stars. Yes, but do the kids know that? Consider Brendan and Tyler. They think their mum is boring; they’d rather follow their dad on one of his business trips. By the end, they’re embracing their mother and telling her how much they love her for organising the best holiday ever. Money and travelling buy children’s love these days, not love.
The first act of Blended takes way longer than it should to introduce us to all the major players. Jim and Lauren go on a blind date at Hooters. She is disgusted. He is more aroused by the woodcutting competition that’s on the television behind her. Later, they chance upon each other at a pharmacy that sells both tampons and erotic magazines. When the pharmacist mixes up their credit cards, they rendezvous at the Reynolds household for a little wordplay. And then they chance upon each other again in Africa, where they’re both taking advantage of Jim’s boss’ unused holiday tickets.
What happens in Africa you already know, or can already guess from the movie’s setup. Coraci and his actors do nothing to stray the narrative off course for flavour. Everything is shot in a flat yellow light, which is Coraci’s way of assuring you that Hillary will fall in love, Espn will let her mother go, Lauren’s boys will become halfway decent, and Lauren and Jim will finally get joint custody of their twin MPVs. There is not a laugh in this movie. Not a one.
Best Moment | Nope.
Worst Moment | All.