Blended Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Kevin Nealon. Directed by Frank Coraci. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday.
Blended at least shows that Adam Sandler, who has offered up some of the laziest comedies of recent years, is still thinking about his career. Ten years after 50 First Dates, he’s teamed up for a third time with Drew Barrymore, co-star of one of his most beloved films, The Wedding Singer (1998). As if for good luck, Sandler has also reunited with Wedding Singer director Frank Coraci (also of The Waterboy and Click). Sadly, the similarities stop there. Sandler has once again used moviemaking to provide himself a paycheck and a vacation; this time he brings his friends to a colorful African tourist resort, complete with amorous hippos.
Sandler and Barrymore play single parents who hate each other after going on a blind date but accidentally wind up sharing the same vacation package. There’s comic support from Kevin Nealon and Terry Crews—the latter serving as a kind of African Greek chorus—and several cute/weird kids; Sandler is given three girls and Barrymore two boys. The Africa sequences are sunny and relaxed, and the two leads’ old chemistry kicks in. For a while, they appear to be enjoying each other in a teasing, friendly way. The rest of the movie feels desperately extended, however, stretched out to a full, crawling two hours, and the romantic payoff is handled with a crowbar.
Sandler can be great if properly challenged (Punch-Drunk Love, Reign Over Me), but here he once again surrounds himself with the overly familiar, and even the movie’s “shocking” humor feels routine.