HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:80
It’s been about 10 years since Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore have been in a movie with the last outing,“50 First Dates”, being the last time the duo were on screen together. They’ve starred opposite each other twice before (although Drew DID play a small cameo as a Swedish receptionist in “Big Daddy”), but the two were cinematic gold together, so I’m surprised there actually hasn’t been more collaboration. We all know them as the perfect couple in “The Wedding Singer” and then 6 years later they did “50 First Dates” and then we never seem them together again. It’s kind of ironic that both actors are starting to fade from their glory days just a bit and then come back together for one more go of it. Adam was the king of comedy back in the 90’s and his early 2000 era work was nothing to sneeze at, but lately he’s been absolutely derivative, putting out such wonderful titles as “Jack and Jill”, “That’s My Boy” and “Just Go With it”. Watching him go from the king of funny to mind blowingly awful in the blink of an eye was saddening to say the least. With the invention of Happy Madison Productions we’ve seen one bomb after another come from Sandler and it seemed that there was little hope of seeing that little spark that we used to love from him. That is until I watched “Blended” and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Adam Sandler actually being FUNNY again!
Jim (Adam Sandler) and Lauren (Drew Barrymore) are two middle aged single parents who’ve gone through love and lost. Jim is a father of 3 girls, Hilary (Bella Thorne), Espn (Emma Fuhrmann), and little Lou (Alyvia Alyn Lind), widowed after his wife dies of cancer. Lauren deal with the opposite sex as she’s the mother of Brendan (Braxton Bekham) and Tyler (Kyle Reid Silverstein), two young teenagers who are bouncing off the wall after her cheating husband was kicked to the curb. Set up on a blind date, the two jaded people butt heads only to find that fate has thrown them together. Meeting in a drugstore, accidentally switching credit cards and a few insults later they end up on an African Safari together, grudgingly spending time with each other. Irony would have it that Lauren’s friend Jen (Wendy Mclendon-Covey) is dating Jim’s boss, Dick, and was going to go on a wonderful trip to Africa. Panicking over meeting Dick’s children, Jen backs out of the relationship leaving this wonderful African adventure open for the taking. Each of the single parents offers to buy the trip from Dick as a way to spend time with their children and unknowingly are double sold on the same trip.
Once in Africa the two families have to learn to co-exist and at least not end up murdering each other for the week. To make matters even worse, the trip is actually at a resort celebrating blended families, as Dick was going to propose to Jen while there. Now Jim and Lauren have to awkwardly stand each other’s company and grudgingly come to some sort of an understand. While there the two start to realize that they’re each a little bit broken and in over their heads as single parents. Jim is a man’s man, and is pretty clueless about raising 3 daughters by himself. His oldest is a burgeoning 15 year old who is starting to notice boys and Jim can’t see her as anything but his tomboy daughter. The middle is suffering from loss as she clings to the memory of her dead mother to the point of constantly imagining her being there with them, just invisible, and the Lou, the youngest, is just a little girl who wants a mother. On the flipside Lauren is still a mom, watching two teenage boys grow up around her and frustrated that she can’t fulfill both the role of mother AND father. We all knew that Jim and Laruen were going to end up together, so I’m not even going to TRY and hide it, since the movie is about as subtle as a sledge hammer to the side of your head. We all know there’s a fine line between love and hate, so we see their mutual disdain for each other start to shift over that delicate line into attraction as the two see just how good the other is at being a parent and start to lend a hand to the other, with Jim adding some much needed male attention to the boys and Lauren showing him that his daughters are just beautiful young women. Finding out they have much more in common than they expected, the two start to realize that just because you lose something, doesn’t mean you can’t find something else that’s just as special.
I was really worried when I went into “Blended”, as Adam Sandler hasn’t really had the greatest track record as of late, but the draw of having Drew Barrymore back as a co-star really had me intrigued, and I’m glad I took the leap. It’s surprising to see Adam Sandler actually be funny again, as I had an entertaining time watching him slip back into that laid back role that he used to play. So long have I seen Adam go all zany and crazy lately that I almost forgot that he could be a calm guy who’s just a bit cooky and a lot of sweet. Drew and Adam are so perfect on screen that the poor script is actually almost forgotten about and you just enjoy watching the two interact with each other. Adam is a much more restrained character as he plays an aging widower, and Drew is just as nerdy cute as ever, both being the highlight of the movie. I’ll say it up front, the movie is by no means perfect or going to be regarded as another “Wedding Singer”, but it is certainly miles better than what he’s been putting out lately.
My main gripe with the movie is the supporting cast and the cliché ridden script. Lauren’s two son’s in particular were more than a bit grating to deal with, as I really felt better children actors could have been chosen. Wendi McLendon-Covey is the same rude and snotty character that she played on “Bridesmaids” and really feels like she doesn’t belong in the story, as her character just feels out of place with the rest of the cast. The rest of the flaws lie with the story writers, as the plot is about as subtle and nuanced as a WWE title match, giving us every ham fisted cliché in the comedy real. We have the stupid blonde who’s marrying the older guy and gets yuks from being a ditz, the crazy friend, the two people who can’t stand each other even though you KNOW they were destined for each other etc, and we even have to deal with some of Adam’s more moronic jokes from time to time. Still it’s really the chemistry between Adam and Drew that keep the story rolling as the two just mesh together so incredibly well on screen. Drew is able to keep Adam from going out of control and two feel like two nerds in a pod. The jokes are cliché, but Adam still has what it takes to get a grin out of the audience, so I think the hits outweigh the misses more often than not.
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=24889[/img]“Blended” is presented in its native 1.85:1 AVC encoded aspect ratio and looks simply fantastic. As with most modern comedy films it has crystal clear image with lots and lots of fine detail, changing from the suburban atmosphere with lots of green lawns and fancy picket fenced neighborhoods to the dusty and golden hued plains of Africa. The image has a lot of bright and cheery colors, ranging from the white’s and primary colors of a family house, to Africa where a little bit of yellow color grading has gone on, giving a little more earthy colors. Skin tones are perfect, but sometimes contrasts can be boosted a bit high for the glitzy African resort (although it looks stylistic more than anything. I can’t complain with the black levels as night scenes are appropriately inky without sacrificing any fine detail to the lack of light. Put on a 50 gig Blu-ray disc the image is free from compression anomalies and digital effects, the only think that I noticed was a bit of a glossy look around Drew Barrymore’s face in a few scenes and I wonder if it was done on purpose to hide any aging of the actress. Still it’s fantastic modern image that will please just about everyone.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=24897[/img]Par for the course, we have an exceptional audio presentation in the form of your standard 5.1 DTS-HD MA. Even though it’s a comedy and one would expect some front loading, the sound designers gave this one a lot of wiggle room as the African safari gives the speakers more to do than just replicate dialogue. The surrounds are used very appropriately as Jim and Lauren go one African tourist attraction after another, from the rushing of wind in the ears as Lauren Parasails to the pulsing African music with Terry Crews serenading the couple, whether they like it or not. LFE is strong and clean, adding some nice low end to the track without being a guns, knives and explosions action oriented track. It’s smooth, accurate and blends nicely with the rest of the sounds. I can’t complain about the dialogue, as it locked up front in the center channel and sounds spot on perfect, with a solid balance to the rest of the track allowing us to leave the remote on the coffee table where it belongs instead of constantly adjusting.
• Dick’s Customer Service
• Herlihopps: Basketball Actor
• Adam and Drew: Back Together Again
• Bella Thorne’s Makeover
• Deleted Scenes
I like being proven wrong, and “Blended” was able to give me a glimpse at what Adam Sandler used to be, with a comfortably fun little African safari romp. It’s not going to bring back the glory days of him singing “Love Stinks” with Julia Guglia, but Adam and Drew have a very comfortable comradarie that allows the film to rely less on Adam Sandler’s maniacally stupid gags as of late and let there be a bit more fun. It’s cheesy, it’s funny, it’s even got a lit bit to warm the heart, even though there is still plenty of Adam’s newer clichés to bring the picture down and I still had an entertaining time. It’s what I like to call a pleasant rental, something that isn’t going to be on your top 10 list, but makes for a pleasant watching experience. Definitely recommend renting it, or if you’re an Adam Sandler fan, worth picking up due it being much better than his recent attempts at humor.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Wendy McLendon-Covey
Directed by: Frank Coraci
Written by: Ivan Menchell, Clare Sera
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Blu-ray Release Date: August 26th, 2014
Buy Blended Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Good Rental
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