Monday, June 2, 2014


Release date:
May 30, 2014
Frank Coraci

Drew Barrymore, Adam Sandler, Bella Thorne, Emma Fuhrmann, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Braxton Beckham, Kyle Red Silverstein, Joel McHale, Wendy McLendon-Covey, Terry Crews, Kevin Nealon, Shaquille O’Neal, Guest Appearance: Dale Steyn as himself

There’s so much that’s wrong with Blended. But before we come to that, an honest confession: I had such fun watching it. Yeah yeah, I know it’s unoriginal. And of course from the very first scene we all know exactly how it will end… C’mon, a blind date gone wrong where the guy and girl are the film’s two lead stars! How many more hints do you need? But know this: this is one of those rare Adam Sandler comedies without a single fart or faeces or penis joke.

Blended is the story of a divorced mother of two sons and the widowed father of three daughters. After the aforesaid awful blind date, they both end up on the same package tour to South Africa where they and their respective broods are compelled to hang out together. Of course the initial friction gives way to affection. Of course there’s girl stuff that Jim (Adam Sandler) doesn’t know how to discuss with his daughters, and boy talk that causes Lauren (Drew Barrymore) to worry about her sons. Of course there are conversations about how the boys need a dad and the girls could do with a mom. Of course you can’t reason too hard or pay too much attention to logic and detail, ’cos then you would ask picky questions like: why did Jim go out shopping late at night for a daughter’s medical “emergency”, without asking – or being told – whether she wanted sanitary napkins or tampons, which brand, what size, etc. Of course you can’t do any of the above.

Familiar situations, familiar characters, lots of romcom clichés – Blended has got it all. What makes it work though is that Barrymore always has dignity and a certain pleasant aura about her, the children are real and quite lovely (especially Bella Thorne as Jim’s androgynous eldest and Alyvia Alyn Lind as his utterly loveable baby), and Sandler seems to be working hard here to balance out the demands of his committed audience with an effort to win over even the not-into-Adam-Sandler crowd (read: cynics like me). He goofs around a lot less here than he usually does. He’s still not attractive, but I admit I mind him less and less now. And I repeat: there’s not a single fart in the film, no faeces, pee or penis jokes.

You deserve a complete picture though. Regular fans of the asinine genre will perhaps be relieved to find continuity in the form of two copulating rhinos seen in passing, and one empty-headed woman who jiggles her barely-covered breasts repeatedly in the presence of a disgusted stepson. It’s silly-but-funny at first, but then she does it again, and then again, and again.

Some of Jim’s own casual lines to his daughter are decidedly insensitive to a blossoming teen, but are presented instead as humour. This is not to say that stupid fathers don’t exist, but that since he’s projected as a caring dad, it’s hard to believe he could be so dense as to not realise that it’s cruel to loudly tell this girl-on-the-verge-of-womanhood that she doesn’t need a bra! While they’re in the company of two men! When an earlier scene would have made it quite clear to him that she is painfully conscious of her chest!

When she ultimately does metamorphose into a swan (no spoiler there, you know she will at some point the moment you see her and get a whiff of the overall plot) too much is left unsaid. We don’t find out how she’s dealt with her body issues and whether she changes because she wants to or because she thinks she has to, to conform to notions of femininity the way, for instance, Kajol did in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

Then there is the portrayal of black people in Blended. Every single one is a caricature. In the world according to Frank Coraci it would seem that all white people, including the boob-bouncing babe, are staid in comparison with dark-skinned South Africans who are all uniformly, without exception, jokers. The cringe-inducing one of the lot is Terry Crews (familiar to TV viewers in India from Everybody Hates Chris) who contorts his face and grinds his hips in butt-hugging bottoms every single time he surfaces on screen.

I can almost hear some of you say, “but it’s only a film … nobody takes Adam Sandler films seriously”. You know that’s not true. If no one takes Sandler’s films seriously then he wouldn’t have persisted for years in sending out messages about the importance of family even in his most seemingly mindless comedies.

In-your-face bosoms and over-the-top blacks notwithstanding, Blended has many winning elements. Right on top of the list are the genuinely funny lines throughout and the sweetness in the interactions between the adult leads and their children. Sweet but not schmaltzy. Lauren’s scenes with Jim’s children are particularly heart-warming. Besides, in their third film together – the others being The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates – Sandler and Barrymore look comfortable together on screen. Despite all its flaws, Blended is solid fun.

Rating (out of five): **1/2

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
MPAA Rating (US):
117 minutes
PG-13 (for crude and sexual content, and language)
Release date in the US:
May 23, 2014

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