It seems as though Adam Sandler can take any of his personal vacations and turn them into a movie. Dragging audiences along with him has not fared so well lately for the actor, who churns out film after film with many more misses than anything nearly passable as a contribution to cinema. Going into Blended, Sandler’s third feature alongside his on-screen sweetheart Drew Barrymore, one may be equally wary because of his recent track record, but also excited because of the amazing chemistry that these two actors share. It is quite a relief to say that Blended stands out amongst a string of flops, as a heartwarming, hilarious, and fun-filled family adventure.
Blended follows two families, one lead by widower Jimmy (Adam Sandler), who is raising three girls in the best way that a single father can. For him, this means making their upbringing very naïve towards what it means to be a girl, as the running joke is that his three daughters gender is ambiguous, verging on masculine. Lauren (Drew Barrymore) finds herself in a similar spot, recently divorced and raising two boys to which she can also be insensitive towards their pubscent male qualities. Set up on a blind date, Jimmy and Lauren meet and instantly despise each other. However, circumstances take them on the same trip to South Africa, where they are forced to share accommodations and a spring break vacation, blending their two families together.
Blended is very obvious in its message about family; the resort that they stay in is entertaining a themed-week particularly for families of second marriages and new relationships, forcing step-mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers to bond. Although the theme of the film is highly implicit and in your face, it works within the context.
The first half-an-hour of the film is verging on atrocious; the dialogue is forced, unfunny, and it makes the audience weary of what is to come. However, once the African vacation arrives, Blended cleans up its mess and becomes laugh out loud funny nearly by the minute. This is in part thanks to supporting actor Terry Crews, who plays a worker in the resort whose running gag manages to stay funny for the whole film.
If we are to compare this film to other Adam Sandler vehicles, this would fall somewhere in between Click and Just Go With It. It’s a romantic comedy that has its prime focus on the importance of family, and even may prompt some tears for its very touching moments. There are many silly jokes, but the weight of the more dramatic underlying message, that children should be the most important part of a parent’s life, is the winning factor that strengthens each moment in the film. Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore once again show that their chemistry is strong enough to turn any mediocre film into something much more sustainable. Their performances anchor the movie into a level that not many other actors could achieve.
Blended isn’t groundbreaking and it follows the standard arc of any romantic comedy, but with solid performances from the whole cast, including the adorable children actors, and a strong message about family, this film rises above anything Sandler has done in the last few years; and thank goodness for that.