Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore are turning into this generation's schlubby Rock Hudson and daffy Doris Day.
Hudson and Day only made three movies together, but the two so often are referred to as a tandem that it seems like they made dozens of films as a couple.
"Blended" is only the third starring Sandler and Barrymore, but it seems like they've been together forever as well. Part of the reason is that the female lead in an Adam Sandler movie generally is a thankless and forgettable role, and the most of the women who've filled that slot have felt interchangeable (frankly, it's hard to remember half of them without resorting to IMDb).
Drew Barrymore, left, and Adam Sandler costar for the third time in “Blended.”
In "The Wedding Singer," "50 First Dates" and now "Blended," Barrymore gets to play something close to his equal rather than the obligatory love interest. She crashes the boys club most Sandler movies are in a way most of his other female costars haven't, and the way she interacts with him makes him more convincing as a ... romantic lead, for lack of a better word. The script for "Blended" makes several cracks at Sandler's appearance but, if anything, he looks a bit more fit than he has in recent years.
The actors seem to bring out the best in each other.
That doesn't make "Blended" a great movie, but it's not bad. There are a few laughs, and some of the scenes with the children are surprisingly affecting. It's all predictable but relatively painless. In the Sandler-Barrymore pantheon, it's nowhere near as entertaining as "The Wedding Singer" (arguably Sandler's best film), but it's better than "50 First Dates."
STARS: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Terry Crews, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Bella Thorne, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Emma Fuhrmann, Braxton Beckham, Kyle Red Silverstein, Joel McHale, Kevin Nealon and Jessica Lowe.
STORYLINE: After a disastrous blind date, two single parents - and their children - find themselves sharing an exotic African vacation together.
DIRECTOR: Frank Coraci
RATING: PG-13 for crude and sexual content and language
Sandler's Jim and Barrymore's Lauren first meet on a disastrous blind date. Lauren is newly divorced from Mark (Joel McHale), a philandering husband and inattentive father to their two sons. Jim is a widower trying his best to raise three girls.
They keep crossing paths and eventually end up on the same exotic African vacation with the kids in tow. Lauren's boys (Braxton Beckham, Kyle Red Silverstein) need a male influence in the lives, while Jim's girls (Bella Thorne, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Emma Fuhrmann) could use some guidance from someone who doesn't buy all their clothes at a sporting goods store and takes them to get their hair cut by the same barber who took care of their grandfather. And Lauren and Jim need to find someone who understands that their kids will come first, at least 99 percent of the time.
Jim teaches Lauren's youngest to hit a baseball, Lauren gives Jim's oldest a makeover, and they slowly start to realize what everyone else knew before walking in the theater - that Jim and Lauren are meant to be together.
Frank Coraci, who also directed "The Wedding Singer," and screenwriters Ivan Menchell and Clare Sera let Barrymore and Sandler play the relatively sane characters and surround them with craziness, like Wendi McLendon-Covey as Lauren's brash business partner or Jessica Lowe and Kevin Nealon as a May-December couple that shares their dinner table at the resort.
Best of all is Terry Crews as a buff, flamboyant lounge singer backed by a Ladysmith Black Mambazo-style dance-vocal chorus. Crews and the dancers serve as a Greek chorus commenting on budding romance. It's a clever touch, even if their presence, and the handling of some of the other African characters at the resort, may get the movie criticized for stereotypical caricatures.
This is still, after all, an Adam Sandler movie. His movie often trade in broad caricatures while delivering an overall message of tolerance and acceptance. The resort is celebrating "blended" families the week of the vacation, and the guests include all ethnicities as well as mixed-race and same-sex couples.
Many of Sandler's cronies make cameo appearances. The best is the Boy George-worshipping keyboard player from Sandler's "Wedding Singer" band, who shows up playing the organ at a little league baseball game. And since Steve Buscemi is too big to turn up in Sandler's movies anymore, they hired Buscemi's brother, Michael, to play a Little League heckler in an early scene.
For those who avoid Sandler movies like they're potato salad that's been sitting out all afternoon on a 90-degree day, "Blended" isn't good enough to change their minds. But Sandler usually is better when "Blended" with Barrymore, and this is no exception.