Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler make a cute couple in this warm but excessively cheesy rom-com, Blended. The cryptic title is spelled out rather bluntly and far too often by a South African singing group that pops up everywhere from a safari to a hot air balloon. Its meaning? The merging of broken families. In this case, two single parents and their troubled kids who are pushed together following a hideous blind date. Yet ‘blended’ could just as easily relate to the mingling of the sexes, for it’s the simple differences between mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters that provide the often trite material for this family friendly offering from long time Sandler collaborator Frank Coraci.

© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc

© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc

The chemistry between Barrymore and Sandler naturally oozes from their Wedding Singer roots and, as a romance, Blended offers much promise. Jim (Sandler) and Lauren (Barrymore) are cheerful, adorable people and it’s hard to want anything other than sparkling happiness for the two of them. This leading duo have oodles of charisma, making Blended an easy, if unfulfilling, watch. Its unfortunate then that their potential remains trapped inside Blended’s blunt screenplay that draws far too heavily on stereotypes and cliches to really set this rom-com alight.

While Jim has three girls and would much rather foster their tom-boy tendencies, Lauren is the mother of two uncontrollable, hyperactive boys. The inevitable result of this timeworn concept? Jim stresses about what tampons to buy and Lauren obsesses about her son’s porn habits. Neither of these stereotypes could survive on their own for too long. It’s fortuitous then that a coincidental twist sees the pair reunited on a South African package holiday aimed at ‘blended’ families where they’re able to provide each other with mutual support in their clueless parenting of the opposite sex.

“There are still moments when Blended elicits a bone fide smile”

The children of Blended put in endearing performances too and at times it feels like Sandler’s latest flick might actually take us somewhere interesting. There’s even a warm and emotionally squelchy moment where Jim’s middle daughter Espn confronts her mother’s death, but Blended is far too comfortable with its pedestrian comedy to stay in this genuine spot too long. Instead the screenplay flicks rapidly between slapdash comedy modes and an embarrassing take on the horny bimbo and older, richer husband cliches who share the breakfast table with our burgeoning couple.

And so, while many of Blended’s gags backfire, completely collapse or fall foul of their own predictability, there are still moments when Blended elicits a bona fide smile. Lou’s succinct announcement that her sister’s ‘monsterating’, a quick-fire scene in a kids’ petting zoo and a self-referencing joke on Sandler’s gruff, gurgling voice all hit the spot but, much too often, these moments are squashed under the weight of Blended’s frequently bonkers humour.

There remains a whisper of something better buried deep under all of this comic debris. If Blended had set out to dig just a little deeper beneath its stereotypes, this beguiling cast might just have made it great.


VERDICT:    ✭   1/5


Images: © 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc

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