There was a long stretch of time when I would go see every movie that had Adam Sandler in a lead role at the theater. I was a pretty big fan of his career; I loved his comedy albums and concerts, and even though I didn’t buy copies of most of his movies, I did enjoy seeing them on the big screen. I had Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore on VHS, and once we entered the DVD age, there were only four more Sandler movies that I went ahead and bought: the branching-outside-of-his-comfort-zone films Punch-Drunk Love and Spanglish, and of his more standard films, his Drew Barrymore pairings, 1998’s The Wedding Singer and 2004’s 50 First Dates.
It wasn’t a displeasure with Sandler’s comedy that led to my decision to stop seeing his movies theatrically. Initially, it was simply the fact that I was annoyed with how many remakes were coming out in the early 2000s. The first Sandler movie I skipped, I skipped because it was a remake. The Longest Yard in 2005. Since then, most his output hasn’t seemed appealing to me, either I didn’t like the scenarios they presented or they seemed to be aimed at a younger audience. Between Blended and Spanglish, the only Sandler movie I ventured out to see was his 2011 romantic comedy with Jennifer Aniston, because I’m a sucker for a romantic comedy.
So given the fact that The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates were only regular Sandler movies I thought worthy of buying on DVD and my proclivity for romantic comedies, it’s no surprise that I was happy to hear that Sandler and Barrymore would be reuniting for a third rom-com.
In Blended, which was also directed by Sandler and Barrymore’s The Wedding Singer director Frank Coraci, the pair’s characters – Jim and Lauren – start off the way men and women often do in rom-coms. They don’t like each other. After a disastrous blind date and a couple following encounters that don’t go well due to the fact that he’s clueless and she’s too judgmental, they have no need to see each other again.
Then the story presents you with a huge coincidence that you’ll need to get your suspension of disbelief over – when Lauren’s best friend Jen finds out that her boyfriend, who happens to be Jim’s boss, has five kids, she calls off the relationship… leaving her ex with seven tickets for a vacation at a resort in Africa. Jim, who has three daughters, pounces on four of those tickets, and unbeknownst to him, Lauren and her two sons snatch up the other three. It’s very convenient for the story, not so convenient for the characters when they realize they’re stuck in each other’s presence for the duration of the vacation.
As you expect going in, the more Jim and Lauren are around each other, the more they start to see beneath the exterior behavior that had repelled them before and start to understand and like the people that each other really are. Jim bonds with Lauren’s sons, Lauren bonds with Jim’s daughters, and by the time the end credits roll, they have become a happily blended family. A modern Brady Bunch with one less member. This is no spoiler, anyone who goes to this movie knows exactly what they’re going to get from it, it’s what happens along the way that matters.
Blended hasn’t been as well received as Sandler and Barrymore’s previous pairings and has taken a harsh critical drubbing, but I actually enjoyed it. Sure, the story requires Sandler to continue being in the family man mode he has been in lately and so a lot of the comedy is aimed at both parents and their children, and so not at me since I’m neither a parent nor a child – the man who once sang “At a Medium Pace” has gone on to get too kid-friendly for my sensibilities – but unlike critics that found it offensive, I thought the movie was rather cute and charming.
I don’t think the movie is as great as The Wedding Singer or 50 First Dates, I would have liked to have gotten a better film than Blended from Sandler and Barrymore’s third pairing, but I wasn’t especially disappointed with it. In fact, my main issue with it wasn’t the story or the content, but the fact that it went on a little too long at 117 minutes. I have a problem with long running times. That’s why I skipped Funny People.