Movie Review: Drew Barrymore makes ‘Blended’ better

Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler in
Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler in "Blended." | AP Photo

‘Blended’
★★ 1/2

The mere fact that it isn’t “Grown Ups 3” is reason enough to see the latest Adam Sandler comedy as an improvement, but it also helps that Drew Barrymore is part of the mix in “Blended.”

Barrymore has a way of bringing out the best in Sandler, as she did in 1998’s “The Wedding Singer” and 10 years ago in “50 First Dates,” and she manages it again this time. It’s just a shame that every time “Blended” starts to achieve a little sophistication it quickly devolves into dumb mode.

Directed by Frank Coraci, who also made two of Sandler’s best (“Wedding Singer” and “The Waterboy”), “Blended” opens with widower Jim (Sandler) and divorcee Lauren (Barrymore) suffering through the Blind Date from Hell — a mismatch made worse by Jim’s choice of Hooters as a romantic setting. In other words, they don’t like each other (after all, this is a romantic comedy), but they do manage to establish that they have at least a couple of things in common. Namely that Jim is as clueless about how to raise his three daughters as Lauren is about her two sons.

This is a scenario that could have been handled in one of those wholesome ’60s family comedies like “Yours, Mine and Ours” (in fact, at its best, “Blended” has a similar vibe), except for the frequent jokes about masturbation, tampons and boobs.

As a result of a backbreaking contrivance, Jim and Lauren wind up sharing a windfall South African vacation after his boss and her business partner/BFF (Wendi McLendon-Covey, a snarky plus) break up — a getaway that turns out to be a celebration of blended families. Think you can guess what’s going to happen?

Actually, it seems a little silly to complain about predictability in an Adam Sandler movie, so let’s focus on what works. First of all, there are moments when the Sandler/Barrymore chemistry generates credible romance, while their comic chops keep the situation from becoming cloying. Not to mention the film’s tendency to cut away to shots of rhinos rutting in the background and the like. And it’s hard to resist the sweetness of the scenes in which Jim and Lauren begin to bond with each other’s broods.

Oh, and there’s also Terry Crews of TV’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” who basically steals the movie as a maniacally grinning, hyper-sexual leader of a strolling Greek chorus, making demented musical commentary on the events.

“Blended” goes on too long and gets dramatically over-complicated at the end before a finale that rams family happiness down our throats, but it could have been so much worse. Let’s just hope that if the Adam Sandler movies keep on coming, it doesn’t take Drew Barrymore another 10 years to appear in one.

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