Adam Sandler's latest paid vacation (with back-end points) is Blended, a comedy with fewer surprises than a Hooters menu.
Yes, the breastaurant chain is showcased in another of Sandler's increasingly cynical endeavors, along with more product placements, single entendres, easy pop reference punchlines (Kimye, The Walking Dead, etc.), jock cameos and a destination locale — this time, South Africa — where the comedian and his pals play with cameras.
At least there's a Hooters in Clearwater that's original.
Blended again pairs Sandler with Drew Barrymore as single parents Jim and Lauren, whose acrimonious blind date at you-know-where opens the movie. They have absolutely no reason to see each other again. Of course they do, first at a store where Jim picks up tampons for the oldest of his three daughters, and Lauren purchases a pinup magazine for her oldest, masturbating son.
Turns out Lauren's snarky best friend (Wendi McLendon-Covey) is dating and dumping Jim's boss at a sporting goods chain chosen solely for its snicker-inducing name. They had planned a South African "familymoon" with his five kids, so Jim and Lauren each jump on the reservation, impossibly without the other knowing. All that's missing is a silly "wah-waah" trombone when they converge unaware at the posh resort.
We know Jim and Lauren will end up together. It's in the stars, and their billing. There will be contrived bumps in the road, family issues to deal with (dead mom, deadbeat dad), and coming-of-age hormone stirring. There will be fun times of riding ostriches and salon makeovers, of humping rhinos and monkeys dressed like, you guessed it, Hooters waitresses. Barrymore will receive her third love-sealing kiss at a baseball game, by my count, occurring 15 minutes before Blended actually ends, in a terrible miscalculation of how much we care about these people.
Occasionally, maybe accidentally, a joke or performance rises above Frank Coraci's dutiful-to-Sandler direction. Terry Crews leads the movie's funniest running gag, flexing impressive pipes and pecs as leader of the resort's Afro-Greek chorus. It feels like a one-scene joke better than anything the screenplay offered, so Coraci smartly bulked up Crews' role. While the grownup actors mostly coast, the kids in Blended aren't bad, especially Bella Thorne as Jim's tomboy daughter, Hilary.
Blended is simply more of the stale Sandler formula that audiences wisely haven't sought as much. An artist might be shoved into trying harder with new people, or shaking up things by playing it straight, but Sandler has been burned doing that. Rote wackiness like Blended may be all we can ever expect from him.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall on Twitter.