– for crude and sexual content, and language.
Director: Frank Coraci
Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Terry Crews, Kevin Nealon, Bella Thorne, Jessica Lowe, Joel McHale, Shaquille O’Neal
Running Time: 1 hour, 57 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: May 23, 2014
Blu-Ray Release Date: August 26, 2014 (Amazon.com)
After a disastrous blind date, single parents Lauren (Barrymore) and Jim (Sandler) agree on only one thing: they never want to see each other again. But when they each sign up separately for a fabulous family vacation with their kids, they are all stuck sharing a suite at a luxurious African safari resort for a week.
(from Warner Bros.)
When you go into seeing a Michael Bay film, you can pretty much predict exactly what you’re about to see: lots of explosions, a bluish green hue to the picture, camera moves that swirl around the actors, a cheesy script, plotholes galore, and an overly objectified and immature portrayal of women. The same idea can be applied to just about any film that stars Adam Sandler and is presented by his film company, Happy Madison. You can pretty much assume Adam will play a sarcastic and blunt misunderstood “bum” who’s surrounded by very colorful and weird characters (that cause him to make puzzled looks at them from time to time), a romantic story that teams him up with someone usually out of his league, and–in more recent films–cute kids where some of them struggle massively with the awkwardness of puberty. 2006’s Click ventured into far more dramatic territory as Adam’s character learned a bit of an It’s A Wonderful Life kind of lesson, with the story going to heartbreaking lengths while still occasionally surprising the audience with off-color humor. Sandler’s latest venture, and third film with co-star Drew Barrymore (the other two being The Wedding Singer and the far better 50 First Dates), is a romantic comedy called Blended, about two single parents who take advantage of a mutual friend’s origina; plans for a trip to Africa when they cancel and can’t go.
Adam Sandler plays Jim, who works at a Dick’s Sporting Goods store, while Drew Barrymore plays Lauren who runs a home organizing company with a friend named Jen called The Closet Queens. The film opens on a blind date between Jim and Lauren that goes horribly wrong, and then Lauren debriefs Jen on how bad it went, only to hear how well her relationship is going with what turns out to be Jim’s boss, Dick. Later, Jen’s and Dick’s planned romantic getaway to Africa (of all places) falls through, so Jim and Lauren decide to individually cash in on their respective friends’ failed vacations. When they run into each other at the resort in Africa, it sets off a string of goofy mishaps and mini adventures that pulls the two individual families together. While the film does have its moments to make it feel a little more unique, the overall feel and structure of Blended is frightfully formulaic. You can pretty much predict who’s going to do what when or how things will end up. It follows the rom-com formula to a “T,” leaving very little to surprise. There are only a few moments that deviate from the norm (one of the best is when it’s a really heartfelt, tender moment and Sandler’s Jim just screams something to startle Lauren). But the fact that a lot of the film feels so “been there, done that” really hurts it. If that weren’t bad enough, the movie just isn’t all that funny (for a “comedy,” especially. I found Guardians of the Galaxy immensely more funny). Again, there are some funny moments, but for the most part, the jokes aren’t that humorous and some scenes just feel… awkward. And not the good kind of awkward that makes The Office hilarious at times, but just plain awkward in every way. Then there’s the unnecessarily crude content (which is common to Sandler movies), like one of Lauren’s young teenage sons being obsessed with their baby sitter, so he pastes her face on pictures of other busty women in bikinis (leading to at least two masturbation jokes by Sandler), or Kevin Nealon being the much older husband to a young, ditzy cleavage-displaying blonde who are frequently doing inappropriate things to each other in public. I’ve always found Nealon’s schtick rather amusing, but his talent’s wasted here (almost any guy can play the lustful older man role that he plays here… and it’s just kind of creepy). There’s also the fact that Jim lost his wife to cancer and his middle daughter walks around pretending she’s still with them, talking with her, saving seats for her, etc. It’s endearing the first couple times until it just seems slightly disturbing and over-used. You’re not sure if it’s meant to be funny or heartwarming, but it’s not really ever the former. Director Frank Coraci’s previous effort was the surprisingly enjoyable Kevin James-starrer Here Comes The Boom in 2012, but this film pales considerably in comparison.
What works in Blended? Honestly, not a whole lot. If you’re a fan of Barrymore or Sandler, it’s fun to just see them together in a movie again. While their previous team-ups were a lot stronger movies altogether, there’s something nostalgic about what Coraci, Barrymore and Sandler have here, but it also reminds the viewer how played out the Sandler movie formula ultimately is. He’s really got his own kind of movie that has the same ingredients and feel each time. I’d kind of like to just see him break loose from that and do something different — like a straight-forward comedy without all the little nuances he puts into all of his movies (like mentioned earlier). The ending is satisfying, despite being rather predictable, and there were some fun moments (including the various character reactions in one scene to seeing Hilary’s transformation that’s each set to recognizable pop anthems to express their reaction, although the second time the gag is used, it isn’t quite as funny). Overall, Blended could definitely have been a lot worse (the quality of the film itself is good and the acting is fine — even if the kids are slightly too self-aware at times), but the film just seems to really lack. One little bonus, though, is that fans of 50 First Dates will enjoy a nonsensical cameo by the character “10 Second Tom” in the drug store scene. I have to admit I got a kick out of that myself.
The content is very PG-13. It’s more a problem of crude, sexual humor than even language. A young teen says “What the f—” and hangs on the “F” sound and doesn’t finish the word, while there’s just a couple uses of the “S” word and a whole lot of “Oh my G-d” and similar blasphemy (“G-d!”, “Oh G-d!”, “My G-d!”). There are some jokes about a teen lusting for his baby sitter and some masturbation jokes/references, and Lauren finds a picture of a bikini-clad woman with the baby sitter’s face taped on it that she tears up and then feels bad for doing so. She ends up going to a pharmacy to try to buy a bunch of adult magazines to replace the photo she destroyed, which is where Jim runs into her again for an awkward conversation about it (and jokes). In Africa, there’s a couple named Eddy and Ginger who are all over each other in each scene. Ginger is considerably younger than Eddy and wears very cleavage-revealing tops and often shakes her chest when she’s excited while talking. Other crude jokes and references are made throughout the film. Part of the plot involves Jim being a widower after his wife had died from cancer, and–like mentioned before–one of his young daughters claims to talk to her deceased mother and has a really hard time letting go. That theme may seem heavy to some viewers.
Blended is a lackluster reunion of Barrymore and Sandler and falls prey far too much to the Sandler formula. Sure, one could do far worse in choosing entertainment than this one, but the truth is, both players have made much better movies than Blended. Devout fans of either actor may still enjoy it, but the crude humor and unfunny script make it easy to recommend for just passing on this one.
– John DiBiase, (reviewed: 8/23/14)
Blu-Ray Special Features Review
Even though Blended didn’t fare too well at the box office, there’s still a decent amount of content on the blu-ray disc. The Blu-Ray disc comes in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack with ultraviolet digital copy and the film looks excellent and vibrant in HD. Along with the feature film are the following extras…
Gag Reel (5:53) – The blooper reel is actually kind of funnier than the movie. It’s mostly the cast messing up lines and joking around on set, with some fun references to Drew swearing too much leading to her having a “swear jar” on set. The strong profanity is bleeped out, but there are several examples of the cast being bleeped for using the “F” word. For the most part, it’s a pretty good gag reel.
Safari (3:13) is the first featurette that shows some of the cast and crew on safari in Africa. They see many animals including elephants, lions and rhinos (Adam jokes about lions “doing it”). Lastly, they see some cheetahs, and Terry Crews expresses how amazing it is and how it makes him feel spiritual.
Animals (3:34) shows the kids of the Blended cast playing with animals like meerkats and elephants while in Africa.
Parasailing (2:19) gives us a behind-the-scenes look at filming Drew Barrymore in a harness as she actually parasails.
Ostriches (1:51) reveals how the ostriches that Adam and Kyle Red Silverstein rode were actually men dressed in blue suits with harnesses on! The ostriches were then created using CGI.
Dick’s Customer Service (2:27) is all about Shaquille O’Neal on set during the Dick’s Sporting Goods scenes and shows lots of footage of them having fun on set.
Herlihoops: Basketball Actor (1:06) – Adam sets up this one as being how they cast a professional basketball actor in the movie named Tim Herlihy and how he was about to show the viewers some of his talent. He then proceeded to miss most of his shots. (Because it was a joke)
Adam and Drew: Back Together Again (2:21) focuses on the reunion of Adam and Drew and they act like old friends on the set with lots of goofing around together (it ends with a really fun callback to 50 First Dates).
Bella Thorne’s Makeover (1:58) has teen actress Bella talking about the short-hair wig she wore for the movie and her transformation once she had a sexy makeover.
Nickens (1:39) is devoted to Terry Crews’ flamboyant character. He cals Nickens the “Tom Jones of Africa.” He also shows off here his various unique outfits seen in the film.
Deleted Scenes (6:12) – This is a montage of random deleted and extended scenes as well as alternate takes. It opens with about 7 or 8 rapid fire of Lauren’s son Brendan finding various sex toys and asking about them: a “sticky” stripper pole, flat paddles, leather mask, rubber suit, and a blow up doll. After Jim has his run-in with the fake crocodiles, some baboons attack boat a nearby boat of hecklers. An extended version of the safari scene shows Lauren being scared off by cheetahs. The guide is then chased by them and it works in the shot of the granny hitting a tree (1 “S” word). Another scene shows Nickens singing before the safari begins. Next is during a stop on the safari where his youngest girl asks why Eddy and Ginger are licking each other and he says it’s because they’re very dirty. Lastly, and most disgustingly, Lauren finds Tyler chewing a condom, thinking it’s gum. He tries to blow a bubble with it and we see it balloon at the end of his mouth before popping.
Georgia (2:40) is all about filming the movies U.S. scenes in Georgia, including some of the Africa scenes! They created sets in a warehouse to pose for various places in Georgia (like the closets Jen and Lauren work on and the drugstore).
– John DiBiase, (reviewed: 8/24/14)
Parental Guide: Content Summary
Sex/Nudity: We see several girls at Hooters in really short shorts and shirts revealing cleavage; Jen is on the phone with Dick and suggestively says to him “I know, I’m still sore,” referring to the previous night’s romantic escapades; Jen holds up a dress and calls it a “Milf” dress; Jen says to Lauren, “This dress can change a woman from the kind a man cheats on to the kind a man cheats with”; Lauren tries on a dress in front of a mirror and we see it flop off her shoulder, partially showing some of her bra; Lauren and Jen hug each other when excited about the dress and the owner of the closet of clothes finds them like that and says “Now I know why they call you ‘Closet Queens!”, while one of the lady’s sons takes a photo with his cell; One of Lauren’s sons pinches his brother’s nipples; We see Hilary in a sports bra looking at herself in front of the mirror. She then takes two shoe insoles and stuffs her bra with them. She throws them into the air and they stick on the mirror when her dad accidentally startles her; Lauren finds an adult magazine centerfold of a curvy woman in a small bikini under her teenage son Brendan’s bed. The face of his young, teenage baby sitter is pasted over top of the model’s face. Lauren tears it up in anger and disgust; In a drug store, Lauren grabs a stack of adult magazines (the covers are covered up). Jim finds Lauren searching for these magazines and as they talk about Lauren’s invasion of Brendan’s privacy, Jim refers to him as a “masturbator.” She then shows him the mangled photo with the baby sitter’s head on it; At the checkout, Jim jokes with the cashier about Lauren and the magazines, “She just takes home schooling real serious”; Jim makes a crack about Hooters and turns it around about Lauren’s chest. He then apologizes and admits he didn’t “realize they were that big”; When Jim visits Lauren, both of her sons answer the door and Brendan refers to him as a loser, so Jim replies “Which one is the masturbator?”; Jim briefly think that Lauren is a lesbian. Jen says that it’s over between her and Dick and Jim says “I thought you don’t like d*ck?” (referring to her being a lesbian, which she’s not); The guide at the resort takes them to their room and tells them that this is where they make more Theodopolis’s; In the romantic suite at the hotel, Tyler finds candy he calls “Cherry Pan Ties” which are actually edible panties. Lauren is horrified and takes them away, but then Brendan says “Hey I guess this used to be a fire house!” and she sees him swinging on a stripper pole. Lauren screams in horror; Eddy and Ginger sit at the Theodopolis table and make out a lot throughout the movie. Ginger shows a lot of cleavage in her top in most of her scenes. She also shakes her chest (or “shimmies”) when she’s excited; Jim jokingly introduces Lauren’s boys as “Wax On and Wax Off”; Nickens introduces the kind of couples in the room and mentions alternative couples, showing two men, as well as “booty calls gone wrong.” He later suggestively says the couples will be getting some “alone time”; While Brendan is asleep, Lauren finds that he had ordered adult videos and taped the head of his baby sitter on a busty bikini clad girl on the screen; We briefly see one rhino humping the back of another one; A grandma on a four wheeler crashes into a tree; A little girl says “he’s a good daddy he just doesn’t have a vagina”; When Jake sees Hilary for the first time after a sexy makeover, the song “I’ll Make Love to You” plays over his reaction; When Ginger and Eddy are making out with her in a tight outfit, Jim tries to distract the kids and says he saw an eagle. An old man excitedly says he didn’t see an eagle, but he did see a camel; Jim and Lauren awkwardly attend a couples massage where everyone is dressed in a bath robe. We see Eddy groping his wife’s clothed chest. Jim and Lauren awkwardly massage each other’s shoulders; We see Dale fixing his crotch; We see Eddy and Ginger making out again; When Lauren arrives in a sexy dress to dinner, we hear the song “I’ll Make Love to You” playing over Jim’s reaction this time. The camera then goes to an Indian woman looking at Lauren and Katy Perry’s song “I Kissed a Girl” playing over the moment; Jen tells Dick over the phone that she’s “going to make L word” to him “for at least an hour and a half”
Vulgarity/Language: 1 incomplete “F” word, 3 “S” words (1 mouthed), 20 “Oh my G-d,” 3 “cr*p,” 1 “fugly,” 2 “t*tties,” 4 “a” words; 3 “d*mn,” 1 “d*ck,” 4 “Oh G-d,” 2 “G-d!”; 1 “h*ll”, 2 “My G-d,” 1 “b*tch,” 1 “d-bag”; Lauren gives the middle finger
Alcohol/Drugs: Jim grabs Lauren’s beer when she’s not around and guzzles it; There may be more drinking at some of the couples banquet gatherings; Lauren and Jim have beers at their romantic dinner.
Violence: We see boy in his early teens running with a shirt on fire. Another kid shoots their baby sitter in face with a fire extinguisher; One of Lauren’s boys throws a bat and has a temper tantrum at home plate during a Little League game; Lauren finds an adult magazine centerfold of a curvy woman in a small bikini under her teenage son Brendan’s bed. The face of his young, teenage baby sitter is pasted over top of the model’s face. Lauren tears it up in anger and disgust; A kid gets clobbered by a wave; Jim is in a small boat alone and feels the presence of crocodiles swarming the boat. He frantically swats an oar at the crocodiles, only to find that they’re fake; Lauren accidentally hits her son’s head on many door frames as she carries him asleep and then drops him on the floor; Some characters play basketball on a court a little roughly; Jim gets thrown from an ostrich and lands on a trough; A safari guide shows how a pig has “blended” with a couple of lions. We then hear the violent noises of it being eaten with the safari travelers looking on in horror; When Lauren lands from parasailing, Jim gets clobbered by the parachute; Tyler angrily throws his baseball bat; Jim and Brendan box briefly; The baby sitter pushes Brendan over.