There are more than a few problems with “Blended,” which lands in stores soon from Warner Bros. Rather than be persnickety and go after the boring script, the uninspired performances or the well below par character development, I’ll simply tackle three major line items that stood out to me and my wife as we sat through this 117 minute Titanic-esque sinking ship.
Problem #1 – “Blended” reinforces some extremely negative stereotypes related to gender roles in what should be a more modern, progressive thinking world. It initially lures you into thinking that it is going to do just the opposite, but ultimately it fails to even hold its liquid long enough to get through half the film.
Lauren (Drew Barrymore) and Jim (Adam Sandler) go out on a blind date together, and it shockingly ends in epic fashion. She works people’s homes as a closet organizer, while he manages a sporting goods store. Immediately, we see a woman taking her place in a domestic environment doing work that lacks physical demands, while conversely we encounter a man who exists in a world where sports take center stage. Things get a little twisted when we learn he has three daughters and she has two sons, but as fate pushes these families together into a fairly extravagant African vacation (more on that momentarily), we see Lauren and Jim take the lead on the other’s kids. It’s meant to be warm and charming, save for the fact that in indirectly suggests only women can help young girls be physically attractive, and also that only men and teach young boys to be a man (whatever that really means…) via things like boxing and other athletic endeavors.
Whether or not this is intentional is complete irrelevant. “Blended” sets itself up to crash and burn with gender classifications that take us backward rather than forward.
Problem #2 – “Blended” features no people of color in any lead role, and when it does put a non-white character forward, it does so in a way that illustrates them as entertainers above all else. No Black character in this film serves any purpose other than to get laughs, dance a jig or kick in an awkwardly placed one-liner.
Sandler’s co-worker, Doug, is played by Shaquille O’Neal, who is better in his two or three scenes here than he was in the entire run time of the colossal failure “Kazaam.” But when all he does is make funny faces, lift up his shirt to jiggle his belly and behave like a dodo, it’s hard to take him seriously.
Much of the film takes place during an African vacation that the adults weasel their way into, and the tour guides and hospitality workers they meet at their resort (which is populated extensively by over-caffeinated white people like Kevin Nealon and Jessica Lowe) randomly pop up to sing, dance, serve beverages and forget Jim’s name. These characters are probably supposed to be funny and charming to some extent, however their performances feel forced and as though they are in place to only serve the white characters. We see the Black characters in service and performer roles first, and cannot easily separate their on stage characterizations from any other humanity (and there isn’t much) that the filmmakers want to give them. “Blended” draws a line that clearly states its white characters are more relevant to its story than anyone else.
Problem #3 – “Blended” teaches children completely terrible habits. We see Lauren’s children physically abuse their babysitter, scream at their mother and make aggressive demands for a privileged vacation versus something closer to home. We see Jim’s daughters lift no finger at all to help out around their house, much more concerned with being cute and demonstrative than anything else.
The film seems to suggest that children are both a blessing and a curse, then work extremely hard to show how this can be validated. The youths on screen all walk around like their you know what doesn’t stink. Believe me, it does. It looks as though they exude the bare minimum effort for anyone else aside from themselves, and in doing so it becomes very easy to not like them.
So, there you have it. A train wreck rom com film that does so much so badly. I’d encourage you to stay far, far away.
For the most part, the film’s 1080p High Definition 1.85:1 video transfer is clean and vivid. There is strong coloration all the way through, with natural light and bright colors dominating “Blended” all the way through. We see minimal film grain, and save for a few terribly obvious moments where the CGI is blatantly obvious (Jim and one of Lauren’s sons prance around on ostriches or some other large bipedal bird), the film’s limited effects are fine. It’s a very strong transfer overall.
I didn’t have any problems hearing the poorly written script thanks to the film’s English 5.1 DTS-High Definition Master Audio soundtrack that brings insults, attempts at funny lines and lots of forced giggles to one’s ears. There is little effort needed to pick up everything the characters endure, and it’s a fairly crisp audio transfer save for the moments where Sandler and Barrymore are whispering at each other and trying to force some on screen chemistry. Other audio choices are French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1s, while English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided.
The combo pack comes with a standard definition DVD and digital copy, as well as several uninteresting featurettes, a gag reel, deleted scenes and “more!”
A Final Word:
Save your sanity for something that is more worthwhile than “Blended.” You’ll be glad you did.