"If you overlook the fact that it's a really bad movie," my girlfriend opined, as we let Blended listlessly digest, "it's much easier to enjoy."
Amen to that. Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore prove that the third time isn't necessarily the charm as they reunite in this culturally indelicate rom-com with a few surprising moments of tenderness scattered among the cliched tampon-and-semen stuff of which Sandler is master and commander. It opens Friday at theaters everywhere.
In Blended, Sandler and Barrymore are single parents; he's a widower named Jim with three girls whom he's outfitted in his own image. As a manager of the local Dick's franchise, Jim has his daughters wearing tracksuits and sporting Prince Valiant haircuts. Barrymore's a divorcee named Lauren with two over-the-top boys — one throws tantrums and sets things on fire and the other is a godawful actor who does little but tape the face of his babysitter on nudie centerfolds and whine.
After a botched blind date at Hooters (nothing if not a Sandler touchstone), Jim and Lauren and their respective broods find themselves at a South African resort — fortune has intervened to bring them there — for a "blended" getaway designed for new families. The resort is everything you hate about the West's appropriation of Africa, in which the native scenery and culture become literal props. What's that? Rhinos humping? Hilarious!!! Terry Crews roams the premises as a sort of aphrodisiac MC, thrusting his pelvis and popping his pecs while a chorus of singing locals, many of them seniors, harmonize in multi-colored T-shirts behind him, just to give you an idea.
What's sad is that Sandler and Barrymore really do have a natural chemistry after years of working together. A few touching scenes get at the awkwardness and uncertainty of new romance when kids are involved, even if the narrative formula is so blandly predictable you know every beat 15 minutes before it arrives. With less outrageous trappings and fewer of the boob gags that come with Sandler's producing territory, this one might have been more than just bright spots on an otherwise desolate Savannah.