Can expectations be any lower than when you know Adam Sandler is making another movie about himself and another person entering into “a wacky and totally unconventional relationship?” The answer is no, probably not — especially when the trailers that boast of this new story tell you that it’s a movie being shot out of the compost machine that is Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions.
With this being what I was promised, it’s needless to say that my expectations for the newest Sandler film, “Blended,” directed by Frank Coraci, were already at rock-bottom. What makes it so shocking then is that the film failed to make it even to my lowest standards of acceptability.
Right from the get-go, “Blended” shows itself to be written from the leftover cliches of every romantic comedy that has preceded it. The story begins as Jim Friedman (Adam Sandler) and Lauren Reynolds (Drew Barrymore) have a disastrous blind date that sets up their inevitable wacky misadventures to occur later in the film. By the abrupt end of their meeting at Hooters, the two have harbored a healthy distaste for one another, and quickly go home to their families.
It was about this point that I began to hear the theme to “The Brady Bunch” in my head, as the main characters’ children were introduced. Lauren’s family is the token boys that belong to an uptight mother: Her older son Brendan (Braxton Beckham) is a teen with an unhealthy babysitter obsession who blames Lauren for their absentee father; her younger boy Tyler (Kyle Red Silverstein) is a gymnastic wunderkind whom she doesn’t allow to participate in potentially dangerous activities. Jim’s children, on the other hand, are three daughters, all bound by his hyper-manliness: the oldest, Hilary (Bella Thorne), is a budding teen who is embarrassed by her father forcing her into boy-oriented sports and clothes; his middle daughter Espn (Emma Fuhrman) — yes, her name is ESPN, because her dad likes sports — continuously converses with the family’s late mother. Last and far from least is Lou, the baby and therefore the wisest character in the whole film.
When the whole cast then goes to Africa on the same trip and happens to end up in the same room, hijinks are sure to follow! Right?
Unfortunately, the comedy in “Blended” is more tired than the old African man who is written as the butt of no less than half the jokes. Most of the actors’ comedic moments involve their cliched characters getting into situations that the audience will most likely see coming from miles away. While normally this is just annoying, it comes across as mildly offensive in this movie, as anybody who has seen previous Adam Sandler films will know the same recycled comedic queues and even some of the same jokes from all of the movies Happy Madison has been pumping out since they first came into existence. It’s a shame that the comedy isn’t even bad enough to be ironically funny like “Grandma’s Boy,” leaving the audience sitting there just hoping for the pain to end.
“Blended” falls just as hard when trying to move the audience as when trying to get them to laugh. Apparently unable to learn its lesson, the film seems determined to prove that poorly written characters can elicit emotional responses from an audience. Scenes involving Jim’s oldest daughter Hilary thinking she is ugly because of how she dresses (see “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “The Princess Diaries,” “She’s All That,” etc.) are lazy and uninspired at best, and disrespectful to the audience at worst, telling us all that as long as you have short hair and play sports, everyone with think you’re a boy. Likewise, the rest of the characters are set up so poorly, their dramatic scenes come off as contrived.
While there are a few actors in the film like Terry Crews and Shaq who are charming enough or funny enough in their own right to choke a laugh out a viewer, the vast majority of this film is a travesty. On the whole, this felt like an attempt by the filmmakers to get a quick buck by pumping out a romantic comedy so formulaic that people feed it to their babies. Anybody wanting to see this movie should save the ticket money for something that isn’t a loosely connected series of site-gags. Watch “Young Frankenstein” instead. That movie rocks.
Rating: 0 stars