Kids, Animals, Africa and Barrymore-Sandler are “Blended”
By Skip Sheffield
Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore have emerged an adept romantic comedy duo. The two actors have been promoting the heck out of “Blended,” their third and latest pairing. It is evident they like and admire each other, which is a huge advantage for this movie.
“Blended” is a light soufflé of a PG-rated family comedy, with tons of cute kids, funny and annoying adults and gorgeous South African settings and animals. The script, by Ivan Menchell and Clare Sera is formulaic, and the movie, directed by Frank Coraci, goes on a bit too long at almost two hours, but the ride is pleasant and quite funny at times.
Coraci helmed one of Sandler’s biggest hits, “The Wedding Singer.” He knows Sandler’s strengths and weaknesses, and here he plays to Sandler’s strength as a nice guy trying to do the right thing.
“Blended” begins with a very bad blind date of Jim (Sandler), a widower with three daughters and Lauren (Barrymore) a recent divorcee with two sons. Hooters is not the best place to take a woman you want to impress, but we later learn there is a reason for Jim’s seemingly numbskull choice.
After making all the wrong moves, Jim and Lauren figure they will never see each other again. But in a situation comedy there is always a situation to bring them back together. In this case it is a free trip to a weeklong safari vacation at Sun City in South Africa.
If you are annoyed by obvious product placement, this film will bug the heck out of you. At times it seems like one long advertisement for the Sun City resort. However you have subplots with the cute kids. The most engaging is the blossoming of Jim Tomboy daughter Hilary (Bella Thorne of Pembroke Pines, Florida) into a lovely young lady.
Kevin Nealon adds his usual annoying-guy support (this is his 11th film with Sandler), but the star supporting character is towering ex-football player Terry Crews as Nickens, the self-styled “Tom Jones of South Africa.” Nickens follows Jim and Lauren everywhere, and he in turn is followed by a “Thathoo Harmony Group” of brightly-garbed backup singers. Crews’ bouncing pectorals deserve special mention as an impressive stunt.
This probably won’t the last pairing of Barrymore and Sandler, but they better hurry now that they are both married (not to each other) and parents themselves.