Cinema Review: Blended

Sandler-and-Barrymore

DIR: Frank Coraci • WRISimon Kinberg PRO: Jack Giarraputo, Mike Karz, Adam Sandler • DOP: Julio Macat • ED: Tom Costain • MUS: Rupert Gregson-Williams • CAST: Ivan Menchell, Clare Sera

“The new Adam Sandler comedy” are words that strike a Pavlovian response in most film critics around the world, to the extent that if he’s not being directed by Judd Apatow or P.T. Anderson, it’s probably a safe bet that whatever the movie is, it’s probably going to be one of the worst movies you’ll see that year. We can safely assume that it’s just going to be him and a group of his “funny mates” like Kevin James or Rob Schneider or someone else that only Adam Sandler finds humourous, set against the backdrop of what is essentially a holiday for Adam Sandler and all his mates (Just Go With It – Hawaii, Jack & Jill – Royal Caribbean Cruise, Grown Ups – Lake House).

In fact, the only redeeming factor in Sandler’s career has been Drew Barrymore, co-starring with him in what is inarguably his best film, and then re-starring with him in what has been one of the very few watchable rom-com’s Sandler has been in from the last decade. But if you take the quality dip from The Wedding Singer to 50 First Dates, and multiply that by a hundred, that’s where we are with Blended.

Sandler plays Jim, a recent widower with three daughters, who goes on a first date with Barrymore, who plays Lauren, a recent divorcee with two sons. The date doesn’t go well, but a series of fiercely unbelievable events ends up with them accidentally going on holiday together to Sun City in South Africa (there’s that holiday we mentioned earlier). Spattered about the place are bit roles filled by the likes of Terry Crews, Joel McHale, Kevin Nealon and Shaquille O’Neal (there’s those mates we mentioned earlier), but really this comes down to Sandler and Barrymore first hating each other, and then slowly coming to love each other, because… Well, there’s the problem.

Jim and Lauren are so intrinsically unlikeable, that you kind of don’t want them to get together at all. The script comes up with belaboured reasons for them to fall in love – They both drink their coffee the same way! Gasp! – but he is such a selfish ignorant douchebag and she is such an anal nagging harpy that you could care less if they find happiness. Coupled with that are their kids; both of Barrymore’s sons are horribly annoying, to the point where you hope the director makes some risky choices, turns the film into a The Ghost & The Darkness rip-off and they both get violently killed by lions, while Sandler’s daughters fair a little better, but only because they appear to have recognisable human personalities.

So between the unlikeable characters, the unfunny script, the painfully apparent product placement (you’ll have a hankering for Hooters by the time the end credits arrive) and the fact that all of this actually came from the director of The Wedding Crasher, we’re now living in a time when even a watchable Adam Sandler movie, let alone a good one, has become something of a pipe-dream. Avoid.

Rory Cashin

12A (See IFCO for details)
117 mins

Blended is released on 23rd May 2014

Blended – Official Website

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Grey Gardens

Grey Gardens

DIR: Michael Sucsy • WRI: Patricia Rozema, Michael Sucsy • PRO: David Coatsworth, Michael Sucsy • DOP: Mike Eley • ED: Alan Heim, Lee Percy • DES: Kalina Ivanov • CAST: Jessica Lange, Drew Barrymore, Malcolm Gets, Daniel Baldwin

Having been a fan of the documentary since last summer, I was quite excited to see how a narrative detailing the roots of the story would translate to the screen and I have to say it does not disappoint. Director Michael Sucsy weaves the delightful, sad and gothic tale of the Beales with a delicate grace that is really quite touching. There may have been skepticism upon her initial casting, but I think Drew Barrymore excels here to the point where I can’t imagine anyone else playing the role now. Aesthetically perfect in Little Edie’s younger years, to some her mannerisms may seem cartoonish; but I think she plays it with just enough pizzazz and earthy energy to evolve believably into the wildly eccentric middle-aged woman she becomes. Really getting into the guts of the physicality, the staunch timbre of the voice, the childlike heart of Little Edie – Drew isn’t always flawless but it is her own interpretation and it beguiles far more than it distracts – and the chemistry with her maternal counterpart is phenomenal.

I don’t think Jessica Lange hits a false note as Big Edie. It’s a very rich, endearing, emotionally brittle portrayal. And it’s just a pleasure to watch them together on screen as the relationship spirals into mutual heartache, disappointment and joy, leading to several stunning dramatic set pieces and emotional arias. I was in a state of perpetual shivers during the one-two punch of Big Edie’s ‘Tea for Two’ and Little Edie’s ‘VMI Marching Song’. The scene where Jackie comes to visit, when the house is in its most decrepit state, is a real gem – a beautiful melding of subtlety and theatrics, sorrow and amusement.

Having said all of this, there is a sense of true grit and authenticity missing from the piece as a whole. It has a fairytale quality, a safeness about it that contradicts the mundane danger of the documentary. It’s a different medium I suppose that is telling the story in a more stylized way – yet I wish for a second that I could have been truly disturbed by the performances – I don’t think the writing in the latter day era was developed enough to allow for this. It seemed more like a patchwork of quotes than intensely psychotic interactions. However, I do realize that’s all in the documentary, and it would be pointless to recreate those scenes so extensively. Overall, it’s a beautifully crafted piece featuring lovely cinematography, fine production values, a wonderful score and a grand emotional arc that truly does justice to the extraordinary relationship between these two women. Bravo!

Eoghan McQuinn
(See biog here)


Grey Gardens – Official Website


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