When Adam Sandler starred in Judd Apatow‘s “Funny People” back in 2009, he was seemingly playing a tragic version of himself, a once-bright comic star who was ashamed of the equator-broad family comedy crap that had taken over his career.
Some thought that “Funny People” was a statement, of sorts: He was going to leave the junk he’d been producing behind and act in more serious films from that moment forward. Instead, with films like “Grown Ups” earning critical venom and flicks such as “That’s My Boy” and “Jack and Jill” failing in all facets, it seems that his flirtation with self-criticism was more of a fleeting moment of self-awareness.
The latest example is “Blended,” a weird hybrid of PG-13 bro crudeness and family-focused romantic comedy in which Sandler co-stars with Drew Barrymore. He plays a single dad of three girls, she a single mom of two boys, and after they have a disaster of a blind date, they somehow end up together at a family retreat (with their kids in tow) in South Africa. The mechanics of how they get there are a bit complicated and not really worth mentioning, even if they do take up half the film.
Critics have largely lambasted the film, but to be fair, they’re not quite as brutal on Sandler this time around … aside from the New York Post’s Kyle Smith, who writes, “If ‘Funny People’ is any indication, Sandler hates himself, and in ‘Blended’ he invites us to join him. Invitation accepted.”
Most everyone else at least gives the team credit for trying.
Inkoo Kang, TheWrap:
“Blended” director Frank Coraci, a Happy Madison vet, is too much of a company man to elevate this passion-phobic rom-com beyond something more than an above-average Sandler production. Every expectation of a gross-out surprise between a pair of lovers is immediately fulfilled; the film shrinks from intimacy like a snail avoiding human touch.
Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic:
At times it threatens to make you forget it’s a Sandler comedy (“comedy” might be more accurate), with some moments of real sweetness followed by, for instance, a shot of rhinos having sex … Sandler and his team work tirelessly to provide constant reminders that, despite whatever the film might have going for it, you can’t escape the fact that it’s still a stupid Adam Sandler movie.
Andrew Barker, Variety:
“Blended” suffers from a fundamental lack of trust in its audience, following every unexpectedly smart exchange with a numbskull pratfall or one-liner, and every instance of genuine sincerity with an avalanche of schmaltz. Unquestionably an improvement over recent Sandler efforts like “Grown Ups 2,” “Jack and Jill” and “Just Go With It” — which, to be fair, were all truly vile, “death of cinema” sorts of affairs — the film is all the more disappointing for having actual potential to squander.
Anna Smith, London Telegraph:
There’s no doubt some will relate to the gags about gender and child-rearing (he’s clueless about bras, she’s horrified by her son’s porn collection, etc.). But much of comedy is misjudged, and for every cute child there’s an annoying one. Sandler’s jocular, lowbrow goofing will leave many cold, whether he’s goading his teenaged daughter or taking an ill-advised spin on an ostrich.
Ed Douglas, ComingSoon.net:
Here, Sandler tries to make a sensitive chick flick that half works but only when it’s not going for his usual offensive sense of humor … Ultimately, “Blended” isn’t truly awful or unwatchable, but it’s also not particularly groundbreaking, even by Sandler’s standards.