Directed by: Frank Coraci

Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Terry Crews, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Kevin Nealon

I actually enjoyed Blended much more than I expected.  Before rotten tomatoes are hurled at my head, let me explain myself.  Adam Sandler has been on a splendid Razzie run with cross dressing turns in Jack and Jill, the painful but commercially successful Grown Ups movies, That’s My Boy and a host of other film disasters.  While his new movie Blended certainly does not break any new ground, Sandler and Drew Barrymore still work well together onscreen.

Jim (Sandler) is a single dad raising three girls (Larry, Lou and Espn) after his wife of twenty years passed away from cancer.  Jim is an adoring father, but he is clueless about raising girls.  He treats them like young boys, gets their hair cut at the local barbershop, and he even named one daughter after his favorite sports channel ESPN.  Lauren (Barrymore), on the other hand, is raising two boys, one who is hyperactive, and the other is going through puberty and “exploring” himself. Lauren is adapting to life after divorcing her cheating husband Mark (Joel McHale).

Jim and Lauren are set up on a blind date.  Jim takes her to Hooters, and Lauren is irate.  They bicker throughout the dinner, until Jim fakes an emergency, and escapes from the restaurant.  Both of them hope to never see each other again, but their paths keep crossing.  When spring break rolls around, Lauren and Jim both seize on an unexpected opportunity to snag a trip to South Africa.  Unbeknownst to them, however, the two families must share a suite at a plush resort in Sun City, South Africa. As both families check out safaris, para-sailing and a host of other family-friendly fun, Jim and Lauren realize that they have more in common than they originally thought, and their relationship slowly blossoms.

I actually am a fan of old school Adam Sandler movies.  To this day, I chuckle when Shooter McGavin says “Go back to your shanties” in Happy Gilmore.  However, in more recent years, it feels like Sandler has simply been “phoning” it in as he knows his films will generally make money regardless of quality.  Blended is the most bearable Sandler film in years. It is not as good as the bittersweet 50 First Dates or as funny as The Wedding Singer.  However, Sandler is actually pretty endearing as a single dad mourning the loss of his deceased wife. Barrymore’s character is a bit of a control freak, but as she warms up to Sandler’s Jim, the relaxed familiar chemistry between the two actors shines through, and it is enjoyable watching them navigate through a more mature romantic situation. In addition, there is some genuinely funny dialogue interspersed throughout the film, and Sandler delivers his trademark sarcastic wit. There are also some surprise cameos for fans of the oddball characters in prior Sandler/Barrymore movies.

However, Blended does have some serious flaws.  Aside from being predictable, the characters and the plot are far too simplistic.  But worse, the film feels like one long advertisement for vacationing in Sun City, South Africa.  Not only does the film focus on the beautiful locale, but viewers are treated to all of the fun tourist attractions that are available at the resort, including overnight safaris, scooters through the safari, para-sailing, evening boat rides, teen clubs, an indoor waterpark, couples massages, etc. At times, I honestly felt like I was watching a resort promotion video, and by the end of it, I was ready to book my trip.  The obvious resort product placement cheapened the film.

In addition, while I am accustomed to borderline offensive characters in Sandler films, Terry Crews is unbelievably annoying in this film.  His shtick in the film is to show up with a troop of backup South African singers and sing songs to Barrymore and Sandler.  He is obnoxious, ridiculous and completely unnecessary.  Unfortunately, Crews shows up repeatedly throughout the film and disrupts the romantic comedy. Crews' character is a cheap failed attempt at humor that is painful to watch.

Blended earns a 0.09% rating.  It is not worth rushing out to see in theaters.  However, if you do, you will undoubtedly find it more enjoyable and heart-warming than more recent Sandler fare.