Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore's third pairing is a good film scuttled by crudeness
Directed by Frank Coraci, Blended marks the third romcom collaboration between Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, following The Wedding Singer (also directed by Coraci) and 50 First Dates. Their chemistry is still very much intact, but the film badly misjudges the tone and delivers painfully little in the way of actual laughs.
Sandler and Barrymore play single parents Jim and Lauren, both of whom are struggling to raise their respective children, Jim's three girls (Bella Thorne, Emma Fuhrmann and Alyvia Alyn Lind) and Lauren's two boys (Kyle Red Silverstein and Braxton Beckham). When they meet on a blind date, Jim and Lauren instantly hate each other, but after a convoluted contrivance, both their families end up on vacation together at an African safari resort, where they have to share a hotel suite. The catch is that the resort is specifically geared towards helping new step-families 'blend' together, so Jim and Lauren both find themselves becoming the much-needed father/mother-figure for each other's children, with – surprise! – their mutual hatred lessening considerably in the process.
Frustratingly, there is a distinct sense of a good film struggling to get out – Sandler and Barrymore work well together, the kids are decent actors and their emotional sub-plots are nicely handled. There are even one or two amusing gags, most notably a joke about the romcom cliché of songs playing when someone makes an unexpectedly sexy entrance.
Unfortunately, there are far too many crude jokes for this to work as a family film, which begs the question of who it's actually aimed at. Similarly, while racism is perhaps too strong an accusation to throw at Blended, it is, at the very least guilty of uncomfortable stereotyping (Terry Crews' performance as the resort's singing host is excruciating to watch). Still, at least it's not as bad as Grown Ups 2.
General release from Fri 23 May.