‘Blended’ Blu-ray Review: Sleepless on Safari
I keep watching Adam Sandler movies because every once in a while he creates another outrageous character like You Don’t Mess With the Zohan or at least gets involved in a clever premise like Click. The ones with Drew Barrymore had been good and Frank Coraci has directed a lot of the better Sandler movies so there was potential for Blended. It’s not the best collaboration of any of the above talent, but it had enough to like that I didn’t mind watching it on Blu-ray. For context though, remember that I am willing to watch anything as a curiosity and professional research. Your own mileage may vary.
Without the hooks of an ‘80s movie or daily amnesia, the plot of Blended is painfully transparent. Lauren (Barrymore) is a single mom who lives by rules and schedules. Jim (Sandler) is, well, an Adam Sandler character, so there’s no way they could end up together, unless some crazy shenanigans prove to them that they’re actually in love, and compatible despite very legitimate personal differences. When they both end up on an African vacation for blended families, they are forced to get along.
By now Sandler is a bit notorious for picking films based on their shooting locations, but Blended gets a lot more out of Africa than Just Go With It did out of Hawaii or Grown-Ups did out of anywhere. There’s a parasailing bit that’s actually a really well constructed bit of slapstick, although it exists only to be a set piece under the thinly veiled excuse that Lauren is trying to prove she’s fun. Hey, entertainment is entertainment, and God bless Terry Crews for committing to every single role he plays, in this case an African chorus leader.
While it has a trite formula, Blended also has a worthwhile message. Jim and his kids are still mourning the death of his wife, and if this movie can show any grieving families that it’s okay to move on and keep living, then that’s something. If it shows any families of divorce that they can be complete either on their own or welcoming another family into their fold, that’s something. It would be nice if there weren’t sexist jokes about tomboys or weird suggestions of Lauren’s son’s incestuous leanings, but comedy can be a zero sum game. The ratio inches over to the pro side, just barely.
The movie looks great on Blu-ray. It’s clear that the filmmakers, whether first or second unit, loved shooting the wildlife of Africa. The sun gives everything a warm glow, and it’s matched in the portions they filmed in Georgia. The costumes are very colorful too and those colors pop. That is, the costumes worn by Crews, Abdoulaye NGom and others. Sandler just wears tracksuits and other comfortwear.
The Blu-ray has a bunch of fun, short bonus features running only 2-3 minutes each. That’s just enough time to create a sense of fun but avoid becoming pretentious. No one’s trying to make the definitive appendices for Blended, though there is some attention paid to visual effects, and it looks like they did some good for a Georgia community by building a Little League field that will remain after this production. A feature on Sandler and the crew taking a safari will do nothing to dispel the rumor that Sandler makes movies to vacation at their filming locations, but it shows a good natured respect for the area. The gag reel is actually a fun collection of outtakes and the deleted scenes are pretty funny, including alternate takes of the naughty hotel room and a running gag with a baboon.
The Blu-ray for Blended matches the film perfectly. It’s good natured and slight, which provides solid if not memorable entertainment. It would probably go over even better at a shorter running time than 117 minutes but hey, we’re in the post-Apatow age of comedy now.