“Blended” reunites “cinematic soul mates” Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Of course, this is a romantic comedy, so even though they hate one another in the first couple of reels, they end up thrown together on an exotic vacation to Africa. From the first time they mention the journey you know it is just a matter of time until they put their acrimonious feelings aside and someone says, “It’s great we came on this trip.”
So how do Sandler and Co. spice up a predictable story? Easy, they add a dash of “The Brady Bunch,” some beautiful scenery and an all monkey show band.
Sandler is Jim, a widower with three girls (Bella Thorne, Emma Fuhrmann and Alyvia Alyn Lind) who manages a sporting goods store when he’s not missing his late wife. He’s a guy’s guy who named one of his daughters after his favorite network, ESPN.
Barrymore is Lauren, a single mom with two rambunctious boys (Braxton Beckham and Kyle Red Silverstein) who miss their deadbeat dad (Joel McHale). She’s the buttoned-down owner of a closet reorganization company called Closet Queens.
A blind date brings them together but is so disastrous it almost keeps them apart forever. That is until circumstances conspire—it’s too “meet cute” to detail here—to place them both at a ritzy African resort for a Blended Family retreat.
“Is this a sick dream?” Jim says when he first sees Lauren. “What is happening here?”
“We’re here for the zero romance package,” she informs anyone who’ll listen.
Feelings of disgust and hate between the two melt away as their kids do cute things and they learn not to rely on first impressions.
“Blended” is one of Sandler’s sweet family comedies. Well, it’s as sweet as a comedy with Tampax gags can be, but it is a step up from the gross out tone of “Jack and Jill” and “That’s My Boy.”
A small step up, but a step nonetheless.
It’s a heartfelt dose of humor with slightly less vulgarity than Sandler’s recent movies. Add in a few wide-eyed kids with mommy and daddy issues and you have a slightly off-kilter version of “With Six You Get Egg Roll” filtered through Sandler’s juvenile sensibility. He’s a bigger kid than the children in the film and never met a bathroom joke he didn’t like, but he has good chemistry with Barrymore and “Wedding Singer” fans—I’m still trying to expel “50 First Dates” out of my memory—will enjoy seeing them reunited.
The usual Sandler crowed also appears. Shaquille O’Neal brings some awkward charm to lines like, “When she gets flappin’, things happen,” and Kevin Nealon does some enjoyable double-speak, but the scene stealer here is Terry Crews as the leader of a singing group who acts as the Greek Chorus at the resort. His performance lends new meaning to the term over-the-top, but his brand of unbridled silliness is an antidote to the sentimentality the movie occasionally finds itself moving toward.
Sandler has been hit-and-miss lately—mostly missing with big laugh-free comedies—but the goodwill he and Barrymore bring to “Blended” puts it a notch above his recent work. Although much of the humor is Sandler boilerplate stuff but a musical montage when Sandler realizes his daughter isn’t just a tomboy anymore is funny and worth a look.
The Brady Bunch is pop culture’s most famous blended family.
The story of a “lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls,” and a “man named Brady with three boys of his own,” who “would somehow form a family,” ran for fives seasons on TV, endlessly in reruns and even spawned two movies.
“The Brady Bunch is a live-action modern fairy tale of family,” says Christopher Knight who played Peter Brady on the original show. “In this context it’s less odd that it’s lasted for over 30 years; and why it may last in some respects as long as Mother Goose!”
He may be optimistic on the eternal appeal of his show, but he’s not wrong to imply that the idea of blended families could remain the subject of stories and movies for years to come.
This weekend “cinematic soulmates” Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler reunite for a third time, following The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates, for Blended, a romantic comedy about the mixing and mingling of two families.
Hollywood has been blending screen families for years. The grandfather of these blended family stories has to be Yours, Mine and Ours.
Based on the memoir Who Gets the Drumstick? by Helen Beardsley, this 1968 Lucille Ball, Henry Fonda film sees a widow with eight kids and a widower with 10 children (including Mike, played by Tim Matheson 10 years before he found fame in Animal House) become one big (almost) happy family.
The film was produced by Ball, who became so friendly with the Beardsleys she treated all 20 of them to a trip to Disneyland. ABC and Paramount Studios were so impressed with the film they gave the green light to the similarly themed The Brady Bunch show.
The same year, movie legend Doris Day made her final big-screen appearance in With Six You Get Egg Roll, a blended family story about a widow with three sons who marries a man with a daughter. The kids don’t see eye to eye, but soon figure out a way to live together. Released so soon after Yours, Mine and Ours, Eggroll got good reviews, but, as Roger Ebert wrote at the time, “would probably seem funnier if it didn’t suffer by comparison.”
Finally, Step Brothers is an R-rated look at extreme Peter Pan Syndrome. Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly play 40ish men who become bunkmates and reluctant stepbrothers when their parents (Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins) marry. The familiar reprimand “Grow up and act your age” fell on deaf ears with these guys. It’s like watching two overweight, foul-mouthed 10-year-olds with thinning hair going at each other, but it is good vulgar fun.