Film review: Blended relies on clichés to stay afloat

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Frequent co-stars Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler take another shot at comic coupling in Blended. Frequent co-stars Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler take another shot at comic coupling in Blended.

It just so happens that Adam Sandler once made good movies. More than once, even. There’s Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. And on the odd occasion he acts in a drama, he gives good performances in the so-so Punch-Drunk Love, the flawed Reign Over Me and the highly flawed but watchable Funny People.

But whatever. There isn’t room in this review to lament Sandler’s career choices, and his choices are so spectacularly lazy, they don’t deserve lamenting.

That brings us to Blended, which is not the worst movie in the Sandler catalogue. The worst movie in the Sandler catalogue that I’ve seen—That’s My Boy—is so loathsome that if there were any justice, the people who made it would be kicked in the groin repeatedly for not fewer than seven days, annually, to herald the vernal equinox.

No, Blended is not that bad. In fact, nothing could be so bad. (Note: I have seen neither Jack and Jill nor I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry.)

Blended, you see, has the one thing in a Sandler comedy that can elevate it: Drew Barrymore. It’s not that Barrymore hasn’t made execrable movies (He’s Just Not That Into You; Fever Pitch; Lucky You), it’s just that when she’s with Sandler, she elevates his game. Slightly. Her limited charm raises his populist smarm and the results are mediocre.

They did it with The Wedding Singer (bland but harmless). They did it with 50 First Dates (it’s O.K. despite its best efforts to be stupid). They try it again with Blended.

If only Blended did not open in a bathroom. Lauren (Barrymore) is on the phone to her babysitter, asking her to fake an emergency call in 10 minutes because her blind date with Jim (Sandler) is terrible. Oh, and the bathroom is in a Hooter’s. Because why not set it in a Hooters?

Lauren is divorced (cheating assbag husband cliché). Jim is widowed (sympathy card cliché). She has two rotten sons. He has three nice daughters. Lauren’s best friend and business partner Jen (Wendi McLendon-Covey; just give her a starring vehicle already) is dating a guy with five kids who wants to take her to South Africa, and before long there’s some contrived nonsense that gets Jim, Lauren, their five kids and a whole lotta borderline racist jokes to Sun City. (As current as most of the gags are in Blended, I’m surprised Little Steven Van Zandt doesn’t pop up to chastise the entire cast; Google it.)

Barrymore and Sandler have as much chemistry as two old friends climbing aboard the money train, and there are maybe two laughs in 117 minutes (!). There’s also that maddening undercurrent of sweetness that exists in Sandler’s films to temper the bullying, race-baiting, and sexism. Even jerks have hearts, right? And Sandler’s daughters are written to be nice enough while Barrymore’s sons are written as turds. You know, ’cause boys will be boys or something.

Will Sandler and Barrymore end up together? More importantly, how is Blended not totally terrible? Again: It’s a million times better than That’s My Boy.

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