Divorced Lauren and widower Jim find themselves experiencing a massively disappointing blind date at Hooters. With no intention of seeing each other again, the two are inadvertently brought back together when a series of events leads to a trip to Africa for them and their families. The close proximity (they share a resort suite) forces the families to spend time together and despite their own reluctance, Jim and Lauren find themselves warming up to each other.
I absolutely adored 50 First Dates and The Wedding Singer is one of my favorite romantic comedies. Blended was released in 2014 to dismal reviews, but I’m still kind of shocked that I never saw it until now. So it felt like the right time to cap off the Sandler/Barrymore rom-com trilogy, even if I keep hoping they’ll make another soon.
Despite the reviews, I actually really liked this movie. It’s not perfect, by any means, and maybe it’s not on the same level as The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates, but it was still an enjoyable watch. Sandler and Barrymore’s chemistry hasn’t waned at all in the past two decades. They’re still as good together here as they were in 1998. I’m sure their real-life friendship is what helps their on-screen chemistry shine through and I think that’s part of what makes this movie work when it might not.
There is plenty of silliness that you would come to expect from any Happy Madison production but there is also plenty of sweet moments, including a really rather emotional scene where Lauren sings Over the Rainbow to one of Jim’s kids, unaware that it’s the song their late mother used to sing to them. It’s these moments that made me enjoy the movie and there are just enough of them that I was willing to overlook some of the hokey stuff, like Terry Crews (whom I love in Brooklyn 99) and Ladysmith Black Mambazo popping up occasionally to sing ridiculous songs about whatever might be happening in the scene, Jim and Lauren’s son riding ostriches, Lauren’s creepily sex-obsessed oldest son, or Jim’s tomboy daughter needing and getting a makeover to win over a cute boy -although the running gag of Jim’s various nicknames for his daughter’s crush is pretty funny, I won’t lie.
In spite of the typical Sandler shenanigans, the film does a really nice job building Lauren and Jim’s romance. While obviously formulaic, it also felt realistic and there is a lovely payoff to the romantic tension. The majority of the movie is shot in various, gorgeous locales in Africa, so if nothing else, you get a beautiful movie to whisk you away from the pandemic and quarantine for a couple of hours.
I know I am often too easy to please when it comes to romantic comedies, but I’m baffled at how many critics disliked this film. There is nothing crazy original about Blended but honestly, it’s a feel-good movie with plenty of laughs and a heartwarming romance. For me, Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler will always be a winning combination and I really hope they’ll make another movie together in the future.