Blended Blu-ray Review

Mix-and-Match Blu-ray Review: Blended

August 28, 2014Ben Mk


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Or is that frapped...

Some things are better together: rum and coke, peanut butter and jelly — and Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. It's been ten long years since the on-screen duo appeared together in 50 First Dates, and prior to that they lit up the screen in director Frank Coraci's tender-yet-hilarious The Wedding Singer. And now, Coraci, Barrymore and Sandler are back for another round in the romantic comedy arena with Blended, which has a single father (played by Sandler) and a single mother (played by Barrymore) butting heads during an African resort getaway, while comedic and romantic hijinks ensue.

   

The Film Sandler plays Jim Friedman, a mild-mannered store manager at "Dick's Sporting Goods" and father of three, and Barrymore is Lauren Reynolds, a self-employed "Closet Queen" — which is the name of the closet organizing business she runs with her friend, Jen (Bridesmaids' Wendi McLendon-Covey) — and mother of two.

After a disastrous first date — which sees their night out at (of all places) Hooters ruined by some extra-spicy dipping sauce and a bowl of French onion soup — Jim and Lauren vow never to see each other again. But through a series of coincidences and bizarre misunderstandings, they both end up sharing a honeymoon suite on the same African safari getaway, with their kids — Jim's three daughters, Hilary (Bella Thorne), Espn (Emma Fuhrmann) and Lou (Alyvia Alyn Lind), and Lauren's two sons, Brendan (Braxton Beckham) and Tyler (Kyle Red Silverstein) — in tow.

Will Jim and Lauren find romance with each other at the resort's "Blended Familymoon" retreat, despite their initial disdain for one another? Will people ever cease mistaking tomboy basketball player Hilary (or as Jim calls her, "Larry") for a boy? Will Lauren find a way to come to terms with Brendan's awkward infatuation with their babysitter? Will the audience find these characters likeable or compelling enough to care about these plot points? The answers are all-too predictable.

Much like the other movies Sandler has produced under his Happy Madison label, Blended is full of familiar faces in minor roles and cameos — from Shaquille O'Neal and Kevin Nealon to Terry Crews and Michael Buscemi (because his brother, Steve, was apparently unavailable). However, its principle selling point is, of course, the dynamic between Sandler and Barrymore. But although there are moments where the pair exhibit the same chemistry that they brought to their two previous big screen outings, their characters simply aren't placed in the right situations that would allow that chemistry to shine.

Instead, screenwriters Ivan Menchell and Clare Sera prefer to dole out jokes about words that rhyme with people's surnames and churn out send-ups of songs with sound-alike words replaced with "blended". And in that respect, the script feels as if it's pandering to the audience and trying to play it safe. As a result, the story feels wholly generic, when what it should really have been is something tailor-made to play off of Sandler and Barrymore's unique charisma as a romantic/comedic duo.

Audio/Visual Fidelity Blended debuts on Blu-ray with a slick and inviting A/V presentation, bolstered by cinematographer Julio Macat's warm and varied color palette. From Sandler's red tracksuit and Crews' many colorful costume changes to the golden sunshine beating down on the families' African escapades, the image is a technicolor dream. And the hi-def transfer renders it all wonderfully, with strong contrast, inky blacks and fleshtones that (though slightly warm at times) are for the most part accurate. Shadow detail does leave something to be desired; but otherwise there's ample fine detail and clarity present on-screen. Even the tiny "Dick's Sporting Goods" stitched onto the work uniform Jim wears on his first date with Lauren is extremely legible. As for the audio, this is your standard romantic comedy affair, meaning that it's mostly dialogue-driven. And the disc's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack capably handles the requirements of the relatively docile soundstage, perking up at opportune moments, such as when Crews bursts into boisterous song (which he does fairly often) or when dirt bikes speed across the screen.

Special Features Warner's Blu-ray release includes DVD and UltraViolet digital copies of the film, plus 35 minutes of HD special features. First up are a couple of 3 and 4-minute featurettes entitled Safari and Animals, which contain footage of the cast and crew's South African safari expedition and their trip to Ukutula Lodge & Lion Park.

This is followed by a couple of 2-minute behind-the-scenes featurettes, Parasailing and Ostriches, which briefly show how the film's parasailing and ostrich-riding sequences were accomplished. Then there's the 2-minute Dick's Customer Service, a brief piece dedicated to Shaquille O'Neal and his on-set antics, and the 1-minute HerliHoops: Basketball Actor, which showcases former Saturday Night Live writer (and frequent Adam Sandler collaborator) Tim Herlihy's hoop skills.

Adam and Drew: Back Together Again is a 2-minute featurette on the two actors' on-screen reunion; Bella Thorne's Makeover is another 2-minute featurette, this time focusing on her character's glamorous transformation in the film; and Nickens is a 2-minute featurette on Terry Crew's character, whom he describes as "the Tom Jones of Africa". There's also a 6-minute Gag Reel and a 6-minute collection of Deleted Scenes (numbering six in total). And the bonus features conclude with Georgia, a 3-minute look at the cast and crew's time spent filming in the Peach State (which also doubled for Africa in certain scenes).


The Bottom Line Blended has its funny moments; but for the most part, Sandler and Barrymore's third round in the rom-com arena doesn't deliver any knockout punches, neither coming through on its promised blend of comedy and romance nor capitalizing on the charm of its two leads. Warner's Blu-ray release, however, does at least manage to capitalize on the film's upsides, delivering a pleasing A/V presentation and throwing in a boatload of short, family-friendly extras to boot. And that makes Blended a movie that diehard Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore fans may just want to give a chance on Blu-ray, provided they temper their expectations accordingly.  Ben Mk

Disc Breakdown
The Film  —  
Audio/Visual Fidelity  —  
Special Features  —  








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