After a disastrous blind date, Jim (Adam Sandler) and Lauren (Drew Barrymore) find themselves stuck together at a family resort in Africa, where they discover that previously missing spark. But will his daughters blend together as well with her sons? Sandler reunites with The Wedding Singer team of Barrymore and director Frank Coraci for a surprisingly sweet romantic comedy.
As a critical bête noir and depressingly bulletproof commercial darling, Adam Sandler seems to be aiming for a little more credibility with this latest romcom.
He's reunited with Drew Barrymore, his co-star in the wonderful The Wedding Singer and the charming 50 First Dates, two of his finest films. And, encouragingly, the cast includes genuine comedy talent (Joel McHale, Wendi McClendon-Covey, Terry Crews) as opposed to Sandler's celebrity friends.
So is this odd couple overseas comedy a return to form?
Sort of. The slapstick-heavy trailer was a bit misleading, as there's some actual heart to a screenplay that still contains the gross-out moments and pop culture nods now ever-present in Sandler films.
The bereavement angle to Sander's widower Jim gives Blended a sweetness much missed from Sandler's recent catalogue. But while a cameo from cricketer Dale Steyn feels bewildering, McClendon-Covey's an acerbic delight and it's always a joy to see Crews dance, even when he's playing a caricature.
But the key to Blended being Sandler's most enjoyable film this decade is down to one thing - Drew Barrymore. She feels lively, warm and, unlike the Joey Tribbiani-esque performances of Sandler's standard supporting cast over recent years, believable as a human being.
Barrymore's Lauren has some nice moments with Jim's oddly-coiffured daughters (though her sons are horrible brats) and still has an easy chemistry with her leading man.
There's still a lot to be exasperated about. Sandler looks tired and bored, even though he's again managed to ensure his character wears nothing but sports clothing.
The film tries to preach tolerance but reinforces stereotypes and the shifting tone means it's hard to work out who the target audience is.
As for the setting, it's entirely throwaway - this isn't a film about finding love in Africa, it's about how lovely it is to stay in an expensive resort.
Yet with Barrymore on board, it's a comedy that will please Sandler loyalists without annoying those who wish he'd try a bit harder.