Director: Frank Coraci.
Cast: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Bella Thorne, Emma Fuhrmann, Braxton Beckham, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Kyle Red Silverstein.
DREW Barrymore tends to bring out the best in Adam Sandler - so much so that their re-teaming almost saves Blended, Sandler's latest effort.
Undoubtedly, this is Sandler's best movie since 2009's Funny People, but that's not saying much because he's starred in nothing but crap since then: Grown Ups 1 & 2, Just Go With It, Jack & Jill, That's My Boy ... that's a pretty craptacular list of movies right there.
Maybe Sandler knows he's overdue for something that's, if not a hit, at least watchable. Maybe that's why he called up Barrymore, his co-star in two of his best efforts, 1998's Wedding Singer and 2004's 50 First Dates. Surely lightning can strike the same place three times, right?
Buried somewhere in this overlong and largely unfunny film is a sweet family comedy that only clocks in at 90 minutes instead of 117 minutes.
It features Barrymore as Lauren, who is left to raise her two sons by herself after she kicks her douchebag philandering husband to the kerb, and Sandler as Jim, who is left to raise his three daughters after his wife dies.
Having shared a disastrous first date, Jim and Lauren then coincidentally end up with their families at a resort in South Africa, where everyone learns, grows, and becomes better people.
Unfortunately, this is not that potentially innocuous but amiable "sweet family comedy". Instead its an innocuous but amiable "sweet family comedy" lost amid the usual Sandler crap - dozens of joke misfires, a couple of unfunny comedic relief cameos (Shaquille O'Neal and Terry Crews), dodgy running gags, cliché after cliché, a seemingly inevitable dance sequence, trained monkeys - which merely drags out the realisation that this is not really worth your time.
It's a shame. While this is an improvement on almost everything Sandler's made since 50 First Dates, it could have been better.
There are nice heart-filled themes at the core of the film - the travails of single parenting, the struggle to find love again, kids dealing with loss/inadequacy/change - and these lead to some genuinely touching moments.
But amid the bad jokes and some clunky pacing, they become tokenistic, leaving you with the feeling its only the star wattage of Barrymore and Sandler that saved this from being a Disney Channel straight-to-TV production.
As a result, it's almost surprising when the film finds the funny bone. There are a couple of good laughs, especially early on in the film, mainly courtesy of Barrymore or the youngest kid Alyvia Alyn Lind, and Sandler is refreshingly sympathetic and unannoying for once (having his character's wife die of cancer certainly helps elicit empathy and keeps him pleasantly subdued).
But Blended never quite reaches its potential. It was probably always destined to be the lesser of the Barrymore-Sandler trilogy with its generic-feeling Brady Bunch Goes To Africa plot, but there was hope that the re-pairing of the stars could elevate this above the usual dross Sandler has been dishing up lately.
And elevate it they do ... but only just.