There was a time in the mid 2000’s when it looked like Adam Sandler was completely reinventing his career. Films like Punch Drunk Love, Reign Over Me, and Spanglish showed the actor reaching for more deeper dramatic roles. In 2009’s Funny People he even took a shot at himself, parodying the endless stream of nonsensical comedies he found himself starring in over the years. Unfortunately in recent years he has gone back to the well, and given up this new direction. In the modern age Adam Sandler is much more akin to the Ernest movie’s of the 90’s. Grown Up‘s is his version of Ernest Goes To Camp, and his latest foray into film making Blended is Ernest goes to Africa.
Blended is a film that features a group of two dysfunctional families meeting up in Africa, after the single parents of said families have an awkward first date. The two families are drawn together due a free vacation brought on from another couple’s splitting up. Adam Sandler plays the father to three little girls, who lost their mother due to cancer, and Drew Barrymore plays a mother to two boys with an absent father. The two families find themselves making the best of a bad situation and eventually end up bonding, or as this film puts it Blending.
Now say what you will for the quality of his films, his popularity is irrefutable each film he makes gets a clear profit and they cost very little to produce. The films are also very non-offensive appealing to a wide demographic, with a consistent tone. So needless to say if you are a fan of Adam Sandler’s then Blended will not disappoint. However if you are opposed to his style of comedy go elsewhere because Blended is exactly what you expect.
Adam Sandler, and Drew Barrymore have shared the screen in multiple comedies, and its evident the two have good chemistry. The romance while not particularly interesting is believable enough in a “romantic comedy” sort of way. Romantic Comedies have led us to believe that this is how all relationships work, you hate each other, you fall in love, you have a pivotal fight that nearly tears you apart, and then you live happily ever after. While in real life we all realize the folly of the mechanic, one is not liable to watch a romantic comedy for any reminders of the real world. For many couples the romantic comedy is to them, what a superhero movie can be for a young boy an escape from reality.
It may seem I am being a bit harsh on this movie, but what I can say is that it featured a lot of actors I love in bit parts. For example Lauren Lapkus plays the babysitter for Drew Barymore’s kids, and while she has no character in the film at least she’s still getting work. Same goes for Terry Crews, Joel McHale, and weirdly enough Shaquille O’Neal, they all give decent performances in nothing roles. Now I must give credit where credit’s due because all of the kid actors in this movie are legitimately charming. They play their roles believably, and could go on to become great actors in the future.
As for the location in the film, Africa isn’t really that important. It’s mainly used so that we can get sightgag’s involving exotic animals. Some special effects person had to design a scene where a CGI set of Rhino’s engage in adult behaviour. Asides from that most of the people portraying native African’s in the film have some of the films only funny lines. The cast is not whitewashed but the film does seem to play into commonly believed stereotypes a little too often. Like the scene in which the characters go to an African village in order to hijack a traditional dance in order to get a laugh.
Overall Blended isn’t a bad movie for Adam Sandler Fans, but it’s doubtful his detractors will find anything to change their minds in his latest vacation based comedy.
Decide for yourself this Saturday, January 17 at 8:00pm only on HBO. Maybe, the trailer can help you decide.