'Blended': Same old Sandler in flat-beer farce
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.
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.
The wild-eyed Crews is the Greek chorus for this obvious, stale and stiff comedy, a shirtless jolt of life (the man's pecs do a dance all their own) in this lesser entry in the career of the aptly-nicknamed "Sandman."
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, a widower, is raising three emotionally stunted daughters to be pseudo-jocks, like himself. 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.
Every set-up is an eye-roller. Gags and one-liners that would be discarded in a better comedy are trotted out and then underlined here.
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, a character 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.
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language.
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