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Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore reunite for their third project together, Blended, an embarrassingly inept romantic comedy that might have ranked at the bottom of Sandler's resume but for that Jack and Jill debacle. The pair's previous films together, The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates, cannot be mistaken for high art, but both are enjoyable. Blended pairs an incredibly lazy premise with a dead-on-arrival narrative, pitiful acting all around, and a heaping spoonful of cultural stereotypes. This is direct-to-video bad. Hell, Blended is permanently shelved bad.
This 117-minute(!) clusterf**k begins with Sandler and Barrymore on a blind date at Hooters. Jim and Lauren have been set up by friends, and the date is not going well. Sandler's Jim cannot quit ogling the waitresses, and Barrymore's Lauren nearly chokes on her buffalo shrimp. Low-grade, PG-13 insults fly, and each storms off into the night to rejoin the children at home. Jim is the father of three girls, Hilary (Bella Thorne), Espn (Emma Fuhrmann [like the network, get it?]) and Lou (Alyvia Alyn Lind); Lauren is raising two rowdy boys, Brendan (Braxton Beckham) and Tyler (Kyle Red Silverstein). Jim's wife died of cancer, but Lauren's ex-husband (Joel McHale) is just a dick. By and through a narrative catalyst that defies logic, both families wind up at the same South African couples resort where plenty of unfunny hijinks ensue.
The film consistently fails at evoking laughs or emotion. Someone forgot to tell the writers that no one cares about characters like Jim. Simply giving him a dead wife and three daughters does not excuse his total lack of personality and redeeming qualities. Someone should also apologize for making the normally lovely Barrymore this unappealing. Her character spends the entire movie alternating between shrill shrieking and hands-in-the-air defeat. The child actors are absolutely terrible, too, and the script does them no favors. There is zero believable chemistry between the two leads or any of the children and their on-screen parents. Blended slams several times into cloying sentimentality just after making a fart or sex joke. I can picture the filmmakers dreaming of the gee-golly nods of approval that no audience will ever give Blended. This is not some parenting manifesto or timely portrait of divorced, dating adults. This is an awful, terrible excuse for filmmaking.
What is funny here? Nothing. What is not funny here? Lots of things. The South African resort is ripe with cultural lampooning, including tribal dancers lead by Terry Cruise and an expected scene of lion-on-hippopotamus violence. The film lazily jumps from one set-up to another. There's the couples massage where Jim and Lauren get to feel each other's earlobes. There's also the family dinner where a sultry stepmom (Jessica Lowe) shakes her breasts at the young boys. Blended also thinks it hilarious that Jim's oldest daughter Hilary keeps getting mistaken for a boy. Also not funny is the scene where Sandler buys said daughter tampons. This is lowest common denominator stuff, folks.
Why a movie like this gets made is no more evident than in its $123-million worldwide box office. People eat this shit up. Director Frank Coraci has the balls to call this a "great romantic comedy" in one of the bonus features. He should be more concerned with how quickly he went from an OK director to a terrible one. Sandler and Barrymore should have known better, too. I thought Sandler had matured with Funny People, and Barrymore flirted with decent directing on Whip It. Those must have been flukes, because Blended is one terminally unfunny, sloppily edited and offensively stupid mess. Please stop supporting films like this. There is always a place in my home theater for mindless comedy, but this ain't it. Blended seeks nothing but your money and time and gives nothing in return.
Warner Brothers has not exactly made the case for physical media of late, and, while not as bad as the recent Transcendence, this 1.85:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is not very impressive. The bit-rate is fairly low, there is plenty of ugly black crush, and detail is spotty at best. This movie has lousy production values, and the transfer exacerbates this problem with muddy fine-object detail and soft backgrounds. The entire image is a shade too dark, and shadows often cloak facial features and obscure details, even in outdoor scenes. Color saturation is fine, and a few striking landscape shots sneak in. This is not unwatchable, but it's not up to snuff in 2014.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is also a bit sloppy. Dialogue is free from hiss and distortion, which is good considering most of the action comes in the form of the dreadful dialogue. But, the track lacks refinement: ambient effects and the score hunker down in the rear speakers but sound muddy and wholly separate from the near-field dialogue and effects. There is little separation in the surrounds, and nothing moves about the sound field. It's either center-channel dialogue or droning music in the surrounds, not a blended mix of both. French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks are included, as are English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This two-disc "combo pack" includes the Blu-ray, a DVD copy and an UltraViolet HD digital copy. The eco-case is wrapped in a slipcover. The disc includes a Gag Reel (5:53/HD); some Deleted Scenes (6:12/HD); a Georgia promo spot (2:40/HD); and a number of Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes (20:28 total/HD) that reveal the cast having more fun making the film than I had watching it. The menus are plain and easy to navigate, but a "Play All" option is inexplicably absent for these short pieces.
Awful. Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore's third film together is totally without merit. Resist! Skip It.
William lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.