Sandler's too stale to be 'Blended' with anybody

McClatchy-Tribune [SoftReturn]News ServiceMay 22, 2014 

Drew Barrymore, third from left, and Adam Sandler, right, team up for the comedy "Blended." WARNER BROS.

These days, Adam Sandler is a bottle of beer that's lost all its bubbles -- cheap, mass produced domestic beer.

So let's focus on what works in his latest, "Blended," because he sure doesn't.

Drew Barrymore, in her third pairing with Sandler, still brings energy and conviction to her performance as Lauren, a mother of two thrown together on an African vacation with this lump she met on the Blind Date from Hell -- a blind date at Hooters.

Wendi McClendon-Covey, playing her best friend Jen, delivers a comically furious turn and either upstages Barrymore or forces Drew to play at her level. Watch and listen to the two of them berate an obnoxious, snarky loser-dad at Lauren's son's Little League game -- shouting, talking over each other, name-calling. It's Vince-and-Owen-in-"Wedding Crashers" good.

And then there's Terry Crews, who steals the movie as the MC and singer of an African vocal group at the Sun City resort where Jim (Sandler), the sad sporting goods salesman, and Lauren, the professional closet organizer, and their five kids end up in an absurdly contrived joint vacation/safari.

We are deep into the "family comedy" stage of Sandler's working life, families where the kids cuss and rhinos hump, where Jim urinating long and loudly outside of a tent is played for a laugh, where the past-expiration-date Kevin Nealon and a jiggly/funny Jessica Lowe (the new Anna Faris?) are the oversexed other "non-traditional family" that the Lauren-Jim ensemble pair up with.

Jim is raising three emotionally stunted daughters to be pseudo-jocks, like himself. Who nicknames his daughter Hilary (Bella Thorne) "Larry"?

Maybe the sort of guy who peoples his movies with jocks (Shaq) and jockcasters (Dan Patrick) in cameos, along with other washed-up comics of his generation.

Jim's a widower, meant to explain Sandler's sleepwalking demeanor. His daughters need a mom.

Lauren is newly divorced, with a maddeningly rude and hormonal teen (Braxton Beckham) and tantrum-tossing tween (Kyle Red Silverstein), both of whom need a father figure, since their dad (Joel McHale) is a no-show.

The African scenes include digital ostrich riding and a digital monkey band performing "Careless Whisper."

And in the middle of it all is Sandler,aimlessly going through the motions, ac haracter others dismiss as "a buffoon," "a chubby loser" in need of a fist-bump. Even Barrymore, who has gotten rich on "The Wedding Singer" and "50 First Dates," has a hard time giving him one in this flat-beer farce.

BLENDED

1.5 stars (Grade: D-plus)

Cast: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Terry Crews, Kevin Nealon

Directed by Frank Coraci, written by Ivan Menchell, Clare Ser. A Warner Brothers release

Running time: 1:59

MPAA rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language

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