Watching 'Blended' is cruel, unusual punishment

The Fresno BeeMay 21, 2014 

Abdoulaye Ngom, left, Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler star in the painfully unfunny "Blended."

WARNER BROS

If you can get through the first 20 minutes of "Blended" — a nonstop regurgitation of old jokes, annoying characters and unfunny ideas — don't relax. It gets worse.

The new Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore comedy (their word, not mine) looks at what happens when two single parents end up on the same vacation through an absurd and contrived plot line. They decided to stay together in the same room (don't ask) so they can enjoy the trip to Africa.

It's at that point where the movie should have been called "Deported" so we could send these two unlikable people — and their equally unlikable offsprings — home. Instead, director Frank Coraci keeps trying to milk something funny out of the painfully trite script by Ivan Menchell and Clare Sera.

There are the movie's big story lines:

Will the couple find true love? If you don't think they will get together in the end, then you have never seen a Sandler movie.

Will the young girl (Bella Thorne) who everyone believes is a boy finally turn into a beautiful swan? First, the running joke never works and second, the transformation of boyish girl into beauty has been around since caveman drawings.

Will the young boy (Kyle Red Silverstein) ever learn to hit a baseball? Even a script written this poorly isn't going to leave the child a big loser. He has to grow to set up the predictable ending.

The film might not have been such a disappointment if Sandler and Barrymore hadn't had so much chemistry in "50 First Dates" and "The Wedding Singer." None of the connections they made in those films are present here. They just muddle through the film, pausing long enough to let Sandler improvise a few jokeless lines.

As if the film wasn't enough of a disaster, the very funny Wendi McLendon-Covey is wasted; Shaquille O'Neal — whose acting is the only thing worse than his free throw shooting — is asked to create laughs; and Terry Crews plays an African lounge singer in a running joke that quickly loses its punch.

The writers had so little new and funny to write about that plenty of jokes get repeated. Along with the stupid jokes about whether Thorne's character is a boy or girl, there's a relentless series of visual gags with Barrymore smacking the head of her sleeping son as she carries him down halls and through doors. Been there. Seen that. Didn't laugh the first time.

The only head slapping here should be by the executives who agreed to make this movie.

From it's unoriginal premise and lack of comedy to the absence of sparks between the central couple, "Blended" has all the appeal of being gored by a rhino and then dropped into a lion's den wearing a meat suit. At least that agony would end quicker.

Movie review

"Blended," rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor. Stars Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Bella Thorne, Terry Crews, Joel McHale. Directed by Frank Coraci. Running time: 102 minutes. Grade: F

Theaters and times

 

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355.

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