DIR: Frank Coraci • WRI: Simon 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.
12A (See IFCO for details)
Blended is released on 23rd May 2014