"Blended" is a comedy about modern romance that comes with a mile-wide traditional streak. The story of two single parents thrown together on an African vacation for non-nuclear families, "Blended" has an open heart (look for a split-second appearance by a gay-led household), even if its mind seems closed to truly new ideas.
Adam Sandler plays Jim, a widower raising three girls on his own, while Barrymore is Lauren, whose cheating husband (Joel McHale, of NBC's "Community") has left her with two boys. Mutually repulsed after a disastrous blind date, Jim and Lauren are inadvertently reunited in Africa with their respective broods in tow. Forced to share meals and even a suite, the two families form a reluctant Brady Bunch while the African staffers (Terry Crews, Abdoulaye NGom) pull faces and crack wise. Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kevin Nealon and newcomer Jessica Lowe round out a fitfully funny support cast.
Directed by Shirley native Frank Coraci (the Sandler-Barrymore hit "The Wedding Singer") from a script by Ivan Menchell and Clare Sera, "Blended" paints gender with the broadest brush. Jim, the clueless male, calls his three girls Larry, short for Hillary (Bella Thorne); Espn, as in the sports channel (she's played by a rather moving Emma Fuhrmann); and Lou (Alyvia Alyn Lind). Lauren, meanwhile, is the fluttery female ill-equipped to handle a rambunctious 9-year-old, Tyler (Kyle Red Silverstein), and a porn-consuming pubescent, Brendan (Braxton Beckham).
There's an entrenched conservatism in the way that Jim plays sports with the boys while Lauren gives the girls makeovers. But if there's also something comforting and endearing about all of this, much credit goes to Sandler and Barrymore. After three movies together (including 2004's "50 First Dates"), Barrymore's fairy-princess aura and Sandler's cave-man charm still complement each other. If it's not too old-fashioned to say, they seem born for the roles.
PLOT After a disastrous blind date, two single parents are forced together for a family vacation.
RATING PG-13 (language, suggestive humor)
CAST Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Bella Thorne
BOTTOM LINE The familiar Sandler-Barrymore chemistry lends a bit of sparkle to this otherwise predictable family rom-com.
MOVIES ABOUT COUPLES WITH LOTS OF KIDS
It's hate at first sight for single parents Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler in "Blended," but you know that won't last. You'll have to see the movie to find out if they end up like these other screen couples with lots of kids.
YOURS, MINE AND OURS (1968) -- Henry Fonda starred as a widower with 10 kids who marries a widow (Lucille Ball) with a brood of eight. "I Love Lucy" writers Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Davis wrote several gags, including a slapsticky scene where the kids spike Ball's drinks.
WITH SIX YOU GET EGGROLL (1968) -- Widow Doris Day, who has three sons and an English sheepdog, marries single dad Brian Keith, who has one moody daughter (Barbara Hershey) and a cat. Let's just say they're not one big happy blended family -- until the last five minutes, that is.
THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE (1995) -- America's favorite TV family got the big-screen treatment in this amusing send-up that spoofed everything from the Brady clan's bad hair to the Brady clan's equally bad singing.
YOURS, MINE AND OURS (2005) -- Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo played husband and wife in this remake of the 1968 original that added one new family member -- a pet pig named Fiona who ends up in bed with Quaid.
-- Daniel Bubbeo