Reviewed by: Jake Roberson
dangers of vulgar humor
|Featuring:||Adam Sandler … Jim
Drew Barrymore … Lauren
Kevin Nealon … Eddy
Terry Crews … Nickens
Wendi McLendon-Covey … Jen
Bella Thorne … Hilary
Alyvia Alyn Lind … Lou
Joel McHale … Mark
Shaquille O'Neal … Doug
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|Director:||Frank Coraci—“Click” (2006), “The Waterboy” (1998), “The Wedding Singer” (1998)|
Happy Madison Productions
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|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
Sometimes it takes traveling halfway across the world to realize the value of something you have right in front of you. Just don’t tell that to Jim Friedman (Adam Sandler) or Lauren Reynolds (Drew Barrymore).
After the disastrous blind date shared by the struggling divorcée (Lauren) and the awkward widower (Jim), both would be more than content if they never saw nor heard from one another ever again. Which is probably why fate decided it might be humorous to force them and their children into an even closer proximity over the course of an impromptu spring break vacation in Africa.
Because, really, what’s the worst that could happen when you force two broken families who want nothing to do with each other to spend the entirety of a Blended Family Experience week together within the confines of an exotic African resort?
Or, maybe more appropriately, what’s the best that could happen?
It is painfully obvious that the voids left in each family due to a missing parent impact the entire family. Whether it’s due to death (in the case of Jim’s wife) or parental disinterest (in the case of Lauren’s husband), it is clear that families were made to be and are at their best when they are whole. “Blended” is surprisingly gentle and tender in the way it handles the pain that each family member is feeling in the wake of the traumas that have left him or her reeling.
Jim and Lauren, in spite of their initial (and intense) dislike for one another, each take an interest in helping the other’s children through the pain and distress they are facing. Lauren’s tenderness and warmth with Jim’s girls remind them of their mom and helps take some of the pressure off of Jim who, while incredibly loving, is at a loss for how to guide them and their femininity. Where Lauren’s sons are reeling emotionally in the wake of their father’s absence, Jim steps in and is simply present, interested, and engaged with them. As a result, the bond that is formed between these misfit families is one forged in the spirit of simple acts of kindness that don’t seem like much on the surface, but that mean the world to the recipient.
The importance of parental presence is continually highlighted and underscored. Lauren’s ex-husband’s unreliability has far-reaching implications that impact their sons’ in a profound way. But Lauren always makes sure she is there for them, and Jim does the same for his daughters as he tries to fill the void left by the death of his wife, their mother. By the time we hear Jim exclaim, “it should be boring how reliable parents are!” he has already proved time and time again that he has lived that reality of reliability for his family.
There is a smattering of slapstick violence and pratfalls. An old lady crashes an ATV, and a man is launched off the back of an ostrich and onto a water trough. One boy has his crotch stepped on, and another boy sucker punches a man during a practice spar. Step moms talk about the way their stepchildren fantasize about killing them (the step moms), and one of them mentions waking up when a stepchild was attempting to smother her with a pillow.
God’s name is misused in variety of ways 30 times. Following that are four uses of “a**,” three “d*mns,” two “sh*ts,” and one use of both “b*tch” and “h*ll”. “Butthole” and “d-bag” also get thrown around a few times.
The movie opens inside a ladies’ restroom inside a Hooters, and the movie always seems to have some sort of crude or sexual sight or verbal gag waiting just around the corner from the heartwarming bits. We see rhinos mating and a teen girl trying to improve her bust size by stuffing gel shoe inserts into her bra. Elsewhere one character routinely wears outfits that reveal a sizable percentage of her cleavage and, at one point, an adolescent boy ogles her obvious camel toe. One couple at the Blended Family Experience is not shy about awkward public displays of affection, and brief shots throughout the film show other miscellaneous couples kissing passionately. A teen boy has an obsession with his babysitter that manifests in the form of him taping pictures of her face to images of scantily clad centerfolds and porn stars (both of which we see briefly).
There are lengthy (but somewhat veiled, rather than blunt) discussions about pornographic magazines and masturbation, as well as tampons and menstruation. References are made to MILFs and a teen boy accidentally comments on the hotness of his mom and her body several times. One conversation focuses on a string of jokes about two women being lesbians (they’re not), and people refer and make allusions to a variety of other sexual activities.
The problem with blending is that sometimes certain elements don’t mesh well with others. That’s certainly true for the Friedman’s and the Reynolds, and for the movie they inhabit. There is a lot of warmth present and one can’t help but smile and laugh along as the two hurting families bond through shared experiences over the course of their vacation.
However, there is also a fair share of language and crude sexual humor to sort through. Granted, the content here is mild compared to what one has come to expect from Sandler over the years. “That’s My Boy” this is not. But it still needs to be taken into serious consideration before bringing the whole family along.
Which is a shame because the heart of the film is one that you want to share, and there are more than a few healthy laughs to be had. Families are beautiful, messy, wonderful, and often frustrating. They can be one of the most powerful things in the world, but they’re always imperfect. “Blended” captures this essence masterfully. No one here is perfect, but the ones fighting for their families each and every day are the heroes, even when they don’t realize it.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
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