Film Review: ‘Blended’

In 50 First Dates (2004), Drew Barrymore played a hapless singleton suffering from short-term memory loss who constantly forgets that she’s ever met Adam Sandler. Sadly, the rest of us aren’t so fortunate. Reuniting with The Wedding Singer (1998) director Frank Coraci, Sandler has wrangled Barrymore into co-starring alongside him once more in Blended (2014), the story of two (you guessed it) hapless singletons who find themselves and their spawn thrust together on an African safari after a series of coincidences. A 12A facepalmer dripping with age-inappropriate references to camel toes and date rape, Blended could well be Coraci and Sandler’s most abject collaboration to date.

Sandler plays Jim, a single father of three (all girls) who lost his Hooters employee wife to cancer. We first meet our knight in shining tracksuit in his beloved Hooters, boring the pants off Lauren (Barrymore). Lauren is also a single parent, left to take care of her two sons after her ex-husband cheated on her. Clearly incompatible, the pair decide to cut their losses, only to bump into each other again in the most convenient of convenience stores. Jim is purchasing tampons for his tomboy eldest, Hilary (Bella Thorne), while Lauren is hurriedly buying her pubescent son porn to replace the jazz mag she accidentally-on-purpose destroyed. (“Very progressive.”) Returning Lauren’s credit card after a mix-up at the cashier, another twist of fate sees both families stuck on a couple’s retreat together in Kenya.

If there was ever a time for a moratorium on “Yeah, but have you seen Sandler in Punch Drunk Love?”, now must surely be it. Coraci makes a rod for his film’s back right from the off by rendering Sandler’s Jim so immediately dislikable: a beer-swilling, game-watching alpha male packing so much excess testosterone that it looks to be seeping into the pores of his unfortunate offspring (note to single fathers: your daughters will struggle with their femininity). Barrymore’s Lauren is just as farcical. We learn that she likes dresses and writing lists; a prissy control freak unable to loosen the apron springs even for a moment. What a couple we have in the making. Of course there’s the initial discomfort as Jim and Lauren lock eyes across an African tourist trap, the feigned politeness as they realise they’re booked into the same hotel room, and the breaking down of barriers as Jim teaches Lauren’s youngest to ride a CGI ostrich and Lauren instructs Hilary in the ancient art of looking hot to pasty teen heartthrobs. It’s utter bobbins, but more worrying are the warped gender politics Sandler and company appear to be pedalling. Won’t somebody please think of the children?

Daniel Green