In ‘Blended,’ Sandler, Barrymore an amiable couple lost in thin premise

Nobody in movies is easier to denigrate than Adam Sandler, whose 20-plus years as a movie star (and producer) have admittedly generated some painful moments. He doesn’t have many defenders.

In “Blended,” for instance, Sandler expends a lot of energy on building characters and creating some semblance of emotional reality — and then he’ll end a scene with two rhinos copulating.

Why are there rhinos copulating in an Adam Sandler comedy? (If you are asking the question, you probably haven’t seen many of his movies.) In “Blended,” it’s because widower dad Sandler has gone on vacation to South Africa with his three daughters, and rhinos are nearby.

The movie’s gimmick is that a divorced mom (Drew Barrymore) is on the same trip with her two sons. She and Sandler had one terrible blind date, which led to a lasting mutual hatred — but they must try to make the best of this vacation.

For such a thin sitcom premise, Sandler and director Frank Coraci (who also directed the couple in “The Wedding Singer”) lavish a great deal of attention to detail. Each of the five kids, for instance, has a little story arc to follow, none of them especially inspired, but at least the movie’s paying attention.

That makes sense; Sandler’s original audience has aged along with him, and they have kids now, too. He’s canny about folding the mundane trials and tribulations of everyday family life into the slapstick.

There are plenty of problems. The weirdness of traveling to South Africa and staying in a Disneyland-style resort (complete with singing and dancing natives) is never remarked upon, although there is some time set aside for remarking on how beautiful the actual countryside is. As long as the view isn’t ruined by rhinos, etc.

For all the movie’s issues, I have to say that it hits a mood that Sandler’s films get when they’re clicking. There’s a loose, good-natured spirit about “Blended” that carries it along even through cornball jokes.

Running gags are maintained, and Sandler (as usual) creates lots of room for other performers. He’s never a ball hog when it comes to the comedy. There’s plenty of space for the likes of Wendi McLendon-Covey (“Bridesmaids”), who plays Barrymore’s best friend, or pros like Kevin Nealon, Joel McHale and Terry Crews.

The scenes between Sandler and Barrymore are as likable as they were in “The Wedding Singer” and “50 First Dates.” This is not sophisticated cinema, but some credit must be given to silliness that strikes an amiable chord, which “Blended” does.

“Blended” (2 and a half stars)

Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore play feuding single parents who inadvertently take their families to the same South African resort. Nothing too great here, and there are plenty of corny jokes, but the film does create an amiable, feel-good atmosphere, and Sandler and Barrymore play well together.

Rating: PG-13, for subject matter

Opens: Friday at Alderwood, Cinebarre Mountlake Terrace, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood Cinemas, Pacific Place, Oak Tree Cinemas, Woodinville, Blue Fox Drive-In, Cascade Mall and Oak Harbor Plaza.

More in Life

Co-owner Jason Parzyk carries two growlers to fill as he serves up beer at Lake Stevens Brewing Co. The first brewery in the city is celebrating one-year anniversary this weekend. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Beer of the Week: Lake Stevens Brewing Co.’s Sour Imperial

The beer has a depth and a complex flavor profile that goes beyond just another barrel-aged stout.

Now is the perfect time to design the garden of your dreams

Find inspiration in gardening magazines, on the internet, in your neighborhood and at nurseries.

Around Thanksgiving, gardeners give thanks for the garden

What are they most thankful for? The pleasure they receive from spending time in their yards.

Great Plant Pick: Thuja occidentalis ‘Degroot’s Spire’

What: An exceptional selection of the eastern arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis “Degroot’s Spire”… Continue reading

AC/DC founding member Malcolm Young dead at 64

The older brother of bandmate Angus Young was the group’s key writer and leader.

Garden clubs in Snohomish, Island counties

Alderwood Garden Club: Cedar Valley Grange Hall, 20526 52nd Ave. W., Lynnwood;… Continue reading

Home and Garden calendar for Snohomish County and beyond

Printing workshop: with artist and naturalist April Richardson, 1 to 3 p.m.… Continue reading

Legendary bluesman Curtis Salgado to play Arlington show

The Northwest blues-soul-funk-R&B living legend performs with Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons Nov. 18.

This year’s Snohomish Blues Invasion has an all-star lineup

Proceeds send the CD Woodbury Trio and the Benton-Townsend Duo to the International Blues Challenge.

Most Read