These days, Adam Sandler is a bottle of beer that has lost all its bubbles — cheap, mass produced domestic beer.
So let’s focus on what works in his latest, “Blended,” because he sure doesn’t.
Drew Barrymore, in her third pairing with Sandler, still brings energy and conviction to her performance as Lauren, a mother of two thrown together on an African vacation with this lump she met on the Blind Date from Hell — a blind date at Hooters.
Wendi McClendon-Covey, as Lauren’s best friend Jen, delivers a comically furious turn and either upstages Barrymore or forces Drew to play at her level. Watch and listen to the two of them berate an obnoxious, snarky loser-dad at Lauren’s son’s Little League game — shouting, talking over each other, name-calling. It’s Vince-and-Owen-in-“Wedding Crashers” good.
And then there’s Terry Crews, who steals the movie as the MC and singer of an African vocal group at the Sun City resort where Jim (Sandler), the sad sporting goods salesman, and Lauren, the professional closet organizer, and their five kids end up in an absurdly contrived joint vacation/safari.
DIRECTED BY: Frank Coraci
STARRING: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Terry Crews and Kevin Nealon
RATED: PG-13 GRADE: D–
RUNNING TIME: 119 minutes
The wild-eyed Crews, dancing and crooning, bumping and grinding, sings of the “blending” that will go on during this week of nontraditional families wildlife watching and bonding. He is the Greek chorus, the jolt of life in this obvious, stale and stiff comedy.
We are deep into the “family comedy” stage of Sandler’s working life, families where the kids cuss and rhinos hump, where Jim urinating long and loudly outside a tent is played for a laugh, where the past-expiration-date Kevin Nealon and a jiggly/funny Jessica Lowe (the new Anna Faris?) are the oversexed other “nontraditional family” that the Lauren-Jim ensemble pair up with.
Jim is raising three emotionally stunted daughters to be pseudo-jocks, like himself.
Jim’s a widower, meant to explain Sandler’s sleepwalking demeanor. His daughters need a mom.
Lauren is newly divorced, with a maddeningly rude and hormonal teen (Braxton Beckham) and tantrum-tossing tween (Kyle Red Silverstein), both of whom need a father figure, since their dad (Joel McHale) is a no-show.
Every set-up is an eye-roller. Jim and Lauren stumble into each other at the drug store. He’s cluelessly buying tampons for his teen, she’s replacing a porn mag she ripped up for her teen.
Gags and one-liners that would be discarded in a better comedy are trotted out and then underlined here.