A tired old formula that cruises on autopilot

Blended (12A)

When a couple in a romantic comedy despise each other in the opening scene of a film it’s a pretty safe bet they’re going to fall head over heels in love before the end. This is just one of the unsurprising ‘surprises’ in Blended, which has so many clichéd scenarios it could have been dreamt up by a committee of robots.

The fact that it manages to bring a smile to our lips at all is a major achievement in the light of such derivativeness. 

After a disastrous first date negotiated by grieving widower Jim (Adam Sandler) and alienated wife Lauren (Drew Barrymore) they then find themselves thrown together on a joint package holiday to a luxurious African safari base with their respective children in tow. He has three daughters and she has two sons.

Yes folks, it’s one of those ‘If my kids like you, I’ll probably fall in love with you too’ ventures.

Thanks to the simplistic sexual politics within which the film operates, Lauren, of course, won’t understand her boys’ needs as much as Jim. And Jim, of course, won’t be able to cope with his girls’ problems as well as Lauren.

One of the latter concerns Hilary, his teenage daughter. She has a complex about being mistaken for a boy. Only a blind man would fail to see that Hilary (Bella Thorne) is indeed a beautiful young woman and that all she needs to bring this out is to style her hair and to start wearing dresses instead of T-shirts and jeans. And yet this makeover is touted as a kind of ‘eureka’ experience.


The riotous antics of the other children, combined with some adventurous activities like parachuting and ostrich-riding, compensate for the film’s lack of originality. There’s an episodic quality to many of these scenes which prevent us from getting as involved in them as much as we should.

Barrymore gives a sold central performance as a woman willing to take a second chance on love but Sandler is just Sandler in yet another one of those Awkward Daddy roles. On the credit side, he seems to have divested himself of that adenoidal whine he cultivated for so many years to the detriment of my eardrums. It’s their third pairing together.

The treatment of black people in the film is of the ‘Uncle Tom’ variety. (Large groups of them break into song whenever things seem to be going a bit flat.) There’s also a cringe-inducing couple that Jim and Lauren find themselves running into everywhere they go. Both of them seem to have an emotional age of about 10. 

The message of the film, ie that Cupid can fire his arrows into the most unlikely hearts, is old-fashioned. But the treatment is contemporary – for which read saucy; there’s some adult content. For much of the time it seems to be an uneasy mix of Desperate Housewives and With Six You Get Eggroll.

Where it wins out is in the occasional hilarity of the set-pieces. These compensate for the basic predictability of the plot, right down to the mandatory baseball scene at the end where Junior earns his stripes thanks to the input of his new father. At times like this one feels the film wasn’t so much written by a committee of robots as a tired old mogul on auto-pilot.

** Fair