Combustible Celluloid
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With: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Kevin Nealon, Terry Crews, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Emma Fuhrmann, Bella Thorne, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Joel McHale, Abdoulaye NGom, Kyle Red Silverstein, Zak Henri, Jessica Lowe, Braxton Beckham, Shaquille O'Neal
Written by: Ivan Menchell, Clare Sera
Directed by: Frank Coraci
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language
Running Time: 117
Date: 05/23/2014

Blended (2014)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Dorkest Africa

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Blended at least shows that Adam Sandler, who has offered up some of the laziest comedies of recent years, is still thinking about his career. Ten years after 50 First Dates (2004) has teamed up for a third time with Drew Barrymore, co-star of one of his most beloved films, The Wedding Singer (1998). As if for good luck, Sandler has also reunited with Wedding Singer director Frank Coraci (also of The Waterboy and Click). Sadly, the comparisons stop there. Sandler has once again used moviemaking to provide himself a paycheck and a vacation simultaneously; this time he brings his friends to a colorful African tourist resort, complete with amorous hippos.

Sandler and Barrymore play single parents who hate each other after a blind date, but accidentally wind up sharing the same vacation package. There's comic support from Kevin Nealon and Terry Crews -- the latter serving as a kind of African Greek chorus -- and several cute/weird kids; Sandler is given three girls and Barrymore two boys. The Africa sequences are sunny and relaxed, and the two leads' old chemistry kicks in.

For a while, they appear to be enjoying each other in a teasing, friendly way. However, the rest of the movie feels desperately extended, stretched out to a full, crawling two hours, and the romantic payoff is handled with a crowbar. Sandler can be great if properly challenged (Punch-Drunk Love, Reign Over Me, etc.), but here he once again surrounds himself with the overly familiar, and even the movie's "shocking" humor is routine.

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