By Alexia Evripidou
Two hopefuls are trying to escape their appalling blind date. The divorced mother of two boys, Lauren (Drew Barrymore) is taken to a Hooters restaurant by the widower Jim (Adam Sandler), father of three girls. The famous US restaurant, notorious for scantly dressed waitresses wearing tops the size of your toe, fails to impress highly strung Lauren.
The evening sees Jim filling their lackluster date watching TV, Lauren pouring onion soup down her face and clothes and Jim clinching the ‘not gonna happen’ deal by sneakily downing her beer. Beaten, she phones her dumbfounded child-minder who is watching one of Lauren’s sons set fire to a t-shirt in their kitchen, while the other extinguishes the flames, spray foaming the child-minder he has a crush on. Lauren devises an escape from the train wreck of a first date. However, Jim is two steps ahead and receives the ‘get out of jail free’ call first, lamely informing Lauren that an avalanche has hit his garden and making his exit. My favourite excuse ever, might have to use it myself.
However, as a chick, who guiltily enjoys the flicks aimed at our gender, I am disappointed to admit I was not enamoured by the cheap gags, slapstick and flat, one lined romantic comedy. With that said, I did not feel a complete loss of two hours of my life, though it would have benefited with a half hour shave and tighter editing, to help the laughs along.
Blended does it’s job of entertaining and helps escape reality, as the film itself so often does, with a tendency to randomly drop in a comical African choir insisting on singing the woes of the characters’ story lines, like the chorus’ role in a Greek tragedy.
The film is about two people who end up falling in love after initially not liking each other (shock, horror). Somehow on their journey of acceptance, they reluctantly end up holidaying together in a luxurious resort in Africa with all their children in tow and forced to share rooms. The resort is filled with amusing step parents, gay parents with children, older men with younger trophy wives, or as Sandler’s character notes “booty calls that went wrong” and bored repressed older housewives up for anything. The couple witness rhino sex, and accidentally join a couple’s group massage session; where we get to see the lovely chemistry that Sandler and Barrymore share.
Both parents are out of their league raising kids alone, and they know it but are committed parents. There are several clichéd but touching moments where Lauren reaches out to Jim’s daughters, often mistaken for boys with their male haircuts from the previous century, and tries to feminise them. Sandler also does ‘manly dad’ things with Lauren’s kids such as teaching them baseball, fighting and the common father-son bonding ritual of ostrich riding. The film teeters on family comedy.
Family comedy or chick flick, it does not exclude men in touch with their sensitive side or those with children looking for love post serious relationship break down… Ding dong, round two of the marital boxing ring. The storyline, although weak, also invites young children and teenagers facing the scary prospect of a new step mum or ‘you’re not my real dad’ step dad, to relate to the challenges and joys of modern families.
Overall however, this is a loose and lazy script, dragging out puns and mimicking its own genre too much. Trying hard to be ‘cool’ without any genuine emotion, it belittles itself. Although at times engaging with genuine ’laugh out load’ moments generally I cringed in my chair, embarrassed at the cheap humour and poor comedic timing. I anticipated more from the Sandler, Barrymore cooperation. Barrymore took to using the ‘screaming’ method instead of acting and Sandler the ‘am I bothered’. Having starred together in 50 First Dates and the Wedding Singer (a fine rom-com), Barrymore has the ability to bring out a romantic and sweet side to an otherwise drab and uninspired Sandler, which when alone together, we could see.
Yes, it completely plays on the clichés, yes, it is a shameless Americanised popcorn chick flick which numbs the intelligence and fluffs up reality but it is an ok escapist, predicable, ‘everything turns out fine in the end’ film. Which let’s be honest, sometimes has its place in our movie lives, although only in the absence of something better.
In a nutshell, Blended fails to hit the spot. Or rather, it hits it, then misses, then misses some more, and then hits it slightly more during the second half. There are some funny and tender moments followed by several eye rolling interludes.
DIRECTED BY Frank Coraci
STARRING Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore
USA 2014 117 mins