Its never easy to see innocent children dragged into the madness of adults. Their fresh little faces and trusting innocence exploited by hard-hearted cynicism. And so it is with BLENDED, another in a seemingly endless series of Adam Sandler flicks designed to pay for his vacations. The venue this time is Africa, and the story, such as it is, seems to have been conceived after watching an informational video for the resort where most of it takes place and incorporating the highlights seamlessly into the plot.
Naturally, Im kidding. Its an infomercial barely lightened by a game Drew Barrymore treading water in yet another excursion into the land of Sandlers mean-spirited comedy that somehow fancies itself as clever entertainment.
Though, to be fair, it has far less of the usual gross-out humor generally to be found in the oeuvre of this auteur, notwithstanding that the opening scene is set in the ladies bathroom of a chain restaurant featuring young women in hot pants and tight tank tops. It is there that Lauren (Barrymore) is coming to terms with her blind date with Jim (Sandler) being a complete disaster. It wont be over, though, until Jim has established that the waitresses love him, and Lauren has sampled and spit out the food on the table. Thats about as sophisticated as it gets.
Not that Sandlers fans are expecting anything else. Nor should they be surprised that the signature egregious product-placement that features heavily in all his films here extends to a prolonged consideration of the feminine hygiene products at the local chain drugstore, which, like the chain restaurant, is named frequently in order, one suspects, to fulfill a contractual obligation.
Never mind how these two find themselves and their respective children on a dream vacation in Africa. The point is not plot or character development, its showing off the amenities and mentioning the chocolate fountain and tri-tip to be found there. The rest is an assortment of contrived situations, including riding ostriches in a circle for no readily apparent reason, resulting in these two crazy kids realizing that, despite everything, they are meant for each other.
This being a Sandler effort, it requires that the women be essentially brain-dead with what little neural activity remaining tied up in their self-esteem being tied to their attractiveness to the opposite sex. It also requires that the children be clichés with a dash of potty mouth. The one exception being Jims middle daughter, named ESPN (Emma Fuhrmann), who is, against all odds, genuinely touching as she copes with her mothers death by imagining her spirit by her side at all times.
The rest is pratfalls, hormones, obvious jokes played to the lowest common denominator, and promoting Jims single-parenting skills as better than Laurens even though the former dressed his daughters in track suits and has their hair cut at a barber. The rest, that is, until Sandler decides to turn maudlin, injecting a brand of unbearably calculated sentimentality that has little to do with emotion and everything to do with stretching an already irksome plot even further. Perhaps to cram some more product placement into the proceedings. And to decisively sully the memory of the last Sandler-Barrymore collaboration, the perfectly wonderful THE WEDDING SINGER.
BLENDED does make the African landscape look beautiful, even as it skirts troublesome stereotypes while wasting Terry Crews and his almost prehensile pecs. Yet the best thing about it, even better than Barrymore, is that as bad as BLENDED is, at least its not GROWN-UPS 3.