Blended (2014)

BlendedReleased: May 23, 2014. Directed by: Frank Coraci. Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Wendi McLendon-Covey. Runtime: 117 min.

Adam Sandler and co bring us a rom-com that’s heavy on the romance, light on the comedy. Six or seven good laughs throughout the feature is no impressive feat, but is okay for Sandler’s current streak, considering six laughs is around my personal combined tally for how many times I laughed during That’s My Boy, Jack and JillGrown Ups 2 and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. You could say the film is funny on occasion. Sandler portrays Jim, a family guy with no wife and three daughters. He goes on an awful blind date with Lauren (Drew Barrymore), as his first attempt at dating since his wife passed. When Lauren’s best friend Jen (Wendi McLendon-Covey) breaks off her relationship with Jim’s boss, Lauren pounces at the opportunity to take her kids to Africa. Jim does too, and the trip is conveniently a getaway just for blended families! 

Blended is pretty much Just Go With It with a twist: the characters hate each other at first, but everyone’s still just bonding on vacation in an exotic place. Writers Ivan Menchell bring so many components of Sandler’s previous films to get Blended, which is a film that just steals from stronger movies. At least Sandler knows what works to still get work. Some of the laughs that hit are amusing song choices, at least when they’re not completely obvious. Before I get onto what jokes do work, I’ll say what doesn’t make this a family-friendly movie. There are so many sex jokes and some of this is just plain gross. Some of it’s even worse than a deer pissing on Sandler’s face in Grown Ups 2. Take this for example: A giraffe’s very long tongue goes down a character’s throat, practically, when a character is going in for the kiss. This abysmal attempt at comedy is cringe-worthy.  

What work best are some cameos and bit roles. Shaquille O’Neal shows up in a not that funny cameo, because his acting is as strong as his free throwing ability. Terry Crews constantly shows up to sing a song about blended families and whatever else is on the caricature’s mind. He is funny at first, but the film gets a bit desperate to use him so many times during the film. It’s somehow amusing on a minor level throughout, even after his signature titty dance. It’s partly due to his energy, and partly due to the fact that the film gets boring and energy is welcome. I’ll keep the most amusing cameo under wraps. 

It seems to me that Sandler is trying to get laughs by channeling aspects of his comedies that have worked in the past. I counted seven occasions where characters channel aspects from his other films. I guess if it works, many people won’t notice – but those who do, it’s going to seem a bit lazy. Sandler brings slapstick humour and adult-oriented jokes that get the bigger laughs, while parents will think “As if this looked family-friendly.” Kevin Nealon portrays one half of a strange Canadian couple. He channels his character from Happy Gilmore at times. His wife is a bimbo named Ginger; a character who doesn’t get one laugh. She shimmies a lot, which makes Lauren’s eldest son Brandon horny. 

He’s a walking joke; as he resembles Frodo, he’s a masturbating fiend, and he calls his mom hot on two occasions – which might be a subconscious reason for his hostility against Jim. I detect an Oedipus complex. Lauren’s other son Tyler is a temperamental kid who might only have few lonely brain cells left, due to the amount of times his mother hits his head on walls in one week’s span. Barrymore can’t save this because she gets only about two laughs. Her chemistry with Sandler is only able to give audiences so much enjoyment because it’s gotten old. It also doesn’t help that they don’t like each other for the first half. Wendi McLendon-Covey is cast in a lame sidekick role where she can’t exhibit much talent, and Joel McHale portrays Lauren’s ex. He’s been largely unfunny in every film I’ve seen him in thus far. I think he’s funny on TV’s Community, but now that it’s been cancelled – he needs to be picking stronger roles to star in, now more than ever. His schtick seems to be asshole characters, but he’s just not funny as them. 

Bella Thorne’s character Hilary is a tomboy who only sportswear and is nicknamed Larry by her father. Can you tell he wanted a boy? She experiences an ugly duckling arc, which isn’t believable because even with that hideous curly bowl cut wig, she’s still mildly pretty. Put some extensions on her and slap on some make-up, and wow, she now has confidence because no one will mistake her for a boy or an ugly lesbian! The song choices for her transformation are obvious and just not that funny. Sandler’s middle daughter Espn (idiotically named after his favourite network ESPN) has a strange arc: She carries on conversations with her dead mom. Emma Fuhrmann’s performance helps it ring true occasionally, and it adds sincerity to the film, but it’s weird throughout. I guess there’s a big problem when the weird girl’s arc is the strongest. 

Elsewhere, there is sporadic sweetness in the film – but the film’s attempt to tackle realities of today’s day and age are forgettable, and the writers stretch it when they attempt to show that even in nature, families are blended. (A tiger and lion proceed to eat a baby hippo.) For Blended, predictable is fiercely boring and all the extraneous crap makes this run at nearly two hours. Films like these just shouldn’t be that long, unless it’s entertaining.

Score: 45/100

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Happy Gilmore (1996)

Happy GilmoreReleased: February 16, 1996. Directed by: Dennis Dugan. Starring: Adam Sandler, Christopher McDonald, Julie Bowen. Runtime: 92 min.

“Happy Gilmore” is a silly sports comedy, which is its purpose; but God is it funny. Sandler plays the titular Happy Gilmore, a hockey-player-turned-golf-player because he has a wicked slap shot, but he can’t exactly skate so well. He takes his hockey skills and places them on the golf course, even if he has a hard time tapping the ball in sometimes. To help him with that is a love interest, Virginia Venet (Julie Bowen), and a former golf pro, Chubbs (Carl Weathers) to teach him how to improve on his game.

Happy’s motivation to join the golf tour is his grandmother, who hasn’t paid her taxes in years. Due to that, she loses her home – and in order to get it back, he’ll need some money.

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Fights with Bob Barker and other golfing patrons, distracting patrons yelling “Jackass!”, the villain, Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald), and endless product placement for Subway certainly makes this a satisfying and memorable Sandler movie. Oh, and then there is Ben Stiller’s turn as a crazed worker at the retirement home Gilmore’s grandmother stays at.

“Happy Gilmore” is a sweet, if entirely predictable sports comedy, and one of my favourite golf movies, even if it’s not in the same league as “Caddyshack.” It is still both Adam Sandler’s and director Dennis Dugan’s strongest comedies. I find myself laughing at this every time, no matter how many times I watch it.

There are solid chuckles throughout, and truly hilarious scenes. People will, of course, like it a lot more if they enjoy Sandler’s brand of comedy. This character gets very angry, which makes the title ironic. He’s a nice guy who means well, even if he’s generic to a fault. He is one of Sandler’s best characters. Wouldn’t it have been awesome if Sandler’s “Anger Management” movie was a sequel to this?

Score83/100

Announcement for Sandlerthon

Adam Sandler 11I’ve decided to have an Adam Sandler marathon. I think I’ve been a little harsh on the guy lately (but he deserves it, amirite?), so I’ve decided to go through his whole filmography to show that I do like some of his movies. I’ll be watching twenty-nine of his movies throughout the first two weeks of August, and posting the reviews throughout the second half of August. (Maybe earlier.) I am going to still be wathcing as many other movies as I can muster, but I’ll get through the twenty-eight. The eight movies I’ve reviewed out of his filmography, I won’t be reviewing again. Out of those eight movies, I like four of them (“50 First Dates,” “Billy Madison,” “Grown Ups,”   “The Hot Chick“). And I can’t stand to watch the other four ever again (“Airheads,” “Grown Ups 2,” “Jack and Jill” and “That’s My Boy“). A good amount of the movies I’ll be reviewing I’ve seen before (20 out of 29, but I only remember 14 out of those), so that might seem a little strange, but I’ll review it as both a re-watch and a new experience, if that makes sense. I just want to watch all of his movies so I can say I’ve made it through his torturous flicks and his best. Hopefully I don’t get too tired of the egg-headed comedian! I’m also a fan of his early career. So here’s what I’ll be watching on each day:

Day 1: The Wedding Singer, Just Go With It. (Romantic Sandler.)
Day 2: Going Overboard, Shakes the Clown. (Early Career.)
Day 3: The Animal, Pauly Shore is Dead, Dirty Work. (Non-starring roles.)
Day 4: Little Nicky, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. (Distinctive Characters.)
Day 5: Deuce Bigalow: European Gigalo, Zookeeper. (Non-starring roles.)
Day 6: The Longest Yard, Mr. Deeds. (Inferior Remakes.)
Day 7: Click, Bedtime Stories. (Family-friendly Sandler.)
Day 8: Happy Gilmore, Anger Management. (Angry Sandler.)
Day 9: Coneheads, Mixed Nuts. (Non-starring roles.)
Day 10: Bulletproof, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry. (Random.)
Day 11: Eight Crazy Nights, Hotel Transylvania. (Animated Sandler.)
Day 12: Spanglish, Funny People. (Non-Happy Madison Productions.)
Day 13: Punch-Drunk Love, Reign Over Me. (Critically Acclaimed Sandler.)
Day 14: Big Daddy, The Waterboy. (Legitimately Funny Sandler.)

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Billy Madison – A film review by Daniel Prinn – One of Sandler’s most endurable films.

Billy Madison

Release Date: February 10, 1995

Director: Tamra Davis

Stars: Adam Sandler, Darren McGavin, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras

Runtime: 89 min

Tagline: Billy Madison’s going back to school… Way back.

 

Adam Sandler started his career impressing audiences with such mindless comedies as this film, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy and The Wedding Singer; and then he sort of went downhill eventually(well, around 2010 at least), but I do find comedy in most of his work. Not a lot of his films have a substantial plot, but a lot are quite guilty pleasure. The only films on Rotten Tomatoes that have a ‘certified fresh’ label, are ones that are not of his Happy Madison production company (have you gotten the hint yet, Sandler?) – Reign Over Me, Punch-Drunk Love and Funny People. This one, is my second favourite mindless Adam Sandler comedy.

Billy Madison is a idiotic man-child who thinks he is getting the family hotel company. When Billy finds out that a cruel, unfunny person high up in the corporation, Eric, is going to get the company –and Billy has something to say about that. Billy comes up with this deal with his father; that if he redoes Grades 1 through 12 (two weeks for each grade) in a 24-week period, the family business will be handed down to him. He attempts this with all of his funny shenanigans like putting dog shit in a paper bag and setting it on fire and putting it on Old Man Ted’s porch, and making new relationships in the running.

I’m writing this review after multiple viewings. It is one of the most watchable films on Sandler’s filmography; as it is quite funny, but a little bit of plot would help here too. The ‘Back to school’ song is just always funny, and it’s a pretty good comedy – as some jokes still made me really laugh even after multiple viewings, and a lot of the jokes made me laugh a whole lot when I first watched it.

The story is very, very predictable – but a lot of the material here is memorable. A lot of the characters are hit and miss, as Billy and his two man-child friends are the most likeable, and Chris Farley’s character is fairly funny, also. Some of it feels like it tries a bit too hard to be funny, but a lot of it really is. The jokes are good, as the hits definitely outweigh the misses.

The film most definitely doesn’t deserve its standing harsh status of a mere 16/100 on MetaCritic, though, as it attempts to have a heart – but not an efficient plot, for that matter.

Sandler fans would love this, and maybe more recent fans trying to give him a chance, stick with this one or Happy Gilmore, those are his two finest, as they are films that offer substantial entertainment and that’s why I appreciate them.  It’s a good comedy that can make me laugh a lot, but I may have worn it out a bit too much. Watch it if you want to watch a comedy with no substantial plot and a rather predictable story that you could predict how the whole thing plays out from reading its plot on IMDb; but skip it if Sandler rambling in gibberish is not your idea of a good time.

70/100

Jack and Jill – A film review by Daniel Prinn

Released November 11, 2011Director: Dennis DuganStars: Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes, Al PacinoRuntime: 91 minTagline: His twin sister is coming for the holidays… and it ain’t pretty.

Sandler is back… and it ain’t pretty.

Jack (Adam Sandler) lives with his lovely wife (Katie Holmes), their daughter and an adopted Indian son. Soon enough, it’s Thanksgiving and it’s time for Jill’s (Adam Sandler with a high pitched voice) annual visit. Jill is Jack’s “nocturnal, like a bat” twin sister, and she keeps prolonging her vacation because she’s lonely and she only has her bird, Poopsie, to keep her company; henceforth prolonging this god awful film.

I thought it was rather dull, and the plot was stupid. I could count the memorable gags and one-liners on a hand with no fingers. I wanted this film to “pa-go-go” away. It’s a little better than Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star, but not by very much. Though, the only good thing about this film is the reappearance of Otto, the homeless caddy from Sandler’s  classic, Happy Gilmore. Too bad it’s still not enough to save this train wreck.

Oh Al Pacino, why would you associate yourself with this film? Did you want to play a parody of yourself? Did Sandler hold you hostage and not let you go until you said you’d star in it?

I love Sandler’s earlier work (Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, The Waterboy), so I hope he can redeem himself soon. Though, this film does not help in his road for redemption.

Avoid this one like influenza, boys and girls. It’s utterly crappy.

Score12/100