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Monday, July 7, 2014

Blended

Sandler's best movie in years!! Don't worry though, it's still godawful.

The plot, for what it's worth: After meeting on a disastrous first date, a widower (Sandler) and divorcee (Barrymore) find themselves, through the most ridiculous of plot contrivances, spending a holiday for "blended" families together in South Africa's Sun City resort with their respective children in tow. Guess what happens next?

Forget "blended families", though, because the real blending going on here is the unholy mixture of Adam Sandler's usual braindead "comedy" with the similarly barrel-scraping, way-way-way-too-broad "comedy" of South Africa's own Leon Schuster. Schuster doesn't actually appear (thank heavens for small miracles) but his insultingly stupid slapstick stylings have still found their way into the latest Adam Sandler barf-fest. Weirdly though, while you may well expect the blending of the worst of both American and South African comedy to result in - at the very least - a Ghostbusters-II-like expulsion of pure evil that would corrupt and destroy everything in its path, the two seem to mostly cancel each other out.

What should have been the cinematic equivalent of the Black Death then,  instead turned out to be the best Adam Sandler movie in years.

Almost-but-not-quite gone are the gross misogyny and the general face-melting yuckiness of Sandler's worst stinkers (the one-two-punch of Jack and Jill and That's My Boy come vividly to mind) and he even almost entirely refrains from breaking out his "full-retard", creepy stalker voice. Plus, unlike the rambling stupidity of Grown Ups 2, Blended even has a plot. Granted, it's a stupid, stupid plot but, hey, at least it's there. Finally - and this here is something that some might actually mistake for a genuine compliment - there's no denying the very real chemistry between the film's two leads.

Not that any of this is a recommendation to actually see the wretched thing, of course. After all, getting slapped in the face may be an infinite improvement over getting kicked in the balls but that hardly makes it a pleasant experience.      

The problems with Blended are multi-fold. It's very predictable, it's jaw-droppingly stupid and it goes on and on and on; resolutely refusing to end until a good twenty minutes after its natural end point. It wastes its rather good supporting cast and utterly and criminally misuses the mighty (in every sense of the word) Terry Crews, who has proven to be one of the brightest stars in the brilliant new TV comedy series, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but who here barely manages to raise the smallest chuckle in one of the film's better running gags.

The film is also one of the worst offenders to come along in a good long time as far as solipsistic American ego-centrism goes. Being a major part of the so-called liberal media, movies have generally started to embrace a more universal, egalitarian view of the world in recent years but isn't it nice to have Adam Sandler and his cronies on hand to bring everything back to the stone age.

I can kind of forgive the fact that the (South) African characters in the film are presented as being either eccentric curiosities or absolute morons because, this being an Adam Sandler movie, that's pretty much true of everyone. Far more grating though, is the way the film constantly views Africa as one big country ("we're going to/ are in Africa!" is a common refrain but the term "South Africa" is literally used only once in passing) and that the whole continent/ country is basically Sun City. Don't get me wrong, I wish the entirety of Africa was like Sun City - not just because it's a much prettier alternative to reality but because, for all its occasional gaudiness, I kind of love Sun City - but that doesn't make such a viewpoint any less condescending.

Now, of course, I know, I am probably placing way too much import on what a dumb, fanciful comedy has to say about the world - especially as I am not really someone who goes in for the whole nationalism/ patriotism thing - but considering how lazy and how actively unfunny the film is, I guess I just needed something to grab hold onto. The film was so boring, so uninteresting and so utterly free of laughs that I simply needed to find something offensive to give the film some... weight.      

Incidentally, I should mention that, unlike Sandler's absolute worst movies, Blended was directed by Frank Coraci, which might explain why it never reached the eye-gauging awfulness of Sandler at his most repugnant. Coraci may have a pretty terrible filmography but at least he doesn't have a Grown Ups or a Jack and Jill on his resume. Would that you could say the same about Sandler himself.

   

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