Of all the lazy and insipid comedies Adam Sandler has done over the years, of which there have been many coming on a regular basis, the one oasis in all of the dreck has been Drew Barrymore. For whatever reason, Sandler and Barrymore have had impeccable chemistry in The Wedding Singer and the passable 50 First Dates, and the two seem to genuinely enjoy one another's company. In general there is no more thankless role in Hollywood than the female lead in a Sandler comedy. Just ask poor Salma Hayek who spent Grown Ups 2 literally and figuratively getting pissed on. Barrymore can usually make Sandler bearable, but damn if she doesn't face an uphill battle with Blended.
When the film's biggest gag features a pair of rhinos having sex then you know you're in for a tough sit. It's been noted many times before that Sandler has settled into a comfortable groove of making what are essentially paid vacations with his buddies, and Blended is no different except its set in Africa. Africa, the exotic locale best known for its fu**ing rhinos and dancing natives. Although neither of these things is funny in the least, despite Sandler and director Frank Coraci's insistence, the real problem is they always come right after a moment we're meant to take seriously. Heaven forbid there is one honest emotion, other than the seething anger you'll feel having wasted two excruciating hours on Blended. That's right, Sandler doesn't even have the decency to chop this thing down to 90 minutes.
To further pound home just how low-rent an experience this is going to be, the story kicks off at a Hooters restaurant, where widower Jim (Sandler) is on a horrendous blind date with the divorced Lauren (Barrymore). Jim's the father of three girls (one of whom played by Disney Channel starlet, Bella Thorne) he's raising as boys, while she's got two wildly out of control sons. Right off the bat you sense the easy connection between Sandler and Barrymore, but the script, which calls for her to chug French Onion dip, doesn't give two craps about their chemistry.
Both parents are out of their league raising kids alone, and they both know it. Jim's oldest daughter is blossoming into a woman and you can see the Tampax joke coming from ten miles away; Lauren's eldest boy is crazy possessive and hopes she'll get back together with her douchey ex-husband (Joel McHale). A maddeningly contrived circumstance forces both families into the same African resort where the kids can squabble and the parents can continue their mutual hatred of one another.
The hatred only lasts until they need to fall in love or something. Don't get mad at me for spoiling what you already knew was coming. The problem is in how they get there, with a series of useless toilet gags in the middle of what is clearly trying to be a family comedy. But that's Sandler for you; to him a joke about masturbation and rhinos having sex is right at home in a heartwarming family film. Only when Barrymore and Sandler share the screen are we treated to genuinely sweet moments when the parents let their guards down and have a good time. Sandler can be a charming romantic lead when given the opportunity, and once in a while we see Barrymore drawing that side of him out, only to have it go away in favor of the overgrown moron. Sandler gives his usual buddies a free IMDB credit with mostly pointless cameos. The only one who seems enthusiastic about it is Shaquile O'Neal, acting just as well today as he did in Kazaam all those years ago. What silly fun there is does not include Terry Crews as the annoying leader of a singer troupe that pops up in practically every scene to semi-narrate the story, because Blended is just so complicated y'know. It's funny at first, in an Eddie Murphy "Sexual Chocolate" sort of way, but by the 10th time you just want him to be trampled by stampeding buffalo.
The major takeaway from Blended is that Sandler and Barrymore desperately need one another, but they need a decent script far more.