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Stars: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Joel McHale, Kevin Nealon, Wendi Mclendon-Covey, Kyle Red Silverstein, Shaquille O'Neal, Dan Patrick, Bella Thorne, Terry Crews, Braxton Beckham, Emma Fuhrmann, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Abdoulaye N'Gom, Dale Steyn

Director: Frank Coraci

Critical legend has it that movie reviewers are sworn not to like Adam Sandler’s films - even before they have seen them.

That’s pure slander of course, although I do recall one of his comedies being dismissed by the assembled critics as the usual pile of Sandler offal – and that was before the screening began.

It’s not that hard to figure why Sandler attracts automatic derision. He makes audience-friendly films rather than auteur-driven offerings. Anyone seeking an art movie would do best to sleep through Exhibition and give this silly, sentimental and frequently tacky star-driven romcom a wide berth.

The truth is that Sandler seems to understand what his audience enjoys and here, reunited with his The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates costar Drew Barrymore and with The Wedding Singer and Waterboy director Frank Coraci, he delivers the comic-romantic goods with few traces of anything approaching good taste.

On his first blind date with divorcee Barrymore, everything goes wrong for widower and father of three girls Sandler, including Barrymore reacting with fury to the venue (Hooters bar) before spewing food all over herself, and her date telling her “I naturally assumed your husband shot himself”.

Potential romance aborted…

Needless to day, they meet again after agreeing never to see each other, for a second time and, thanks to the plot contrivances of Ivan Mechell and Clare Sera’s screenplay, they end up, Barrymore with her two sons and Sandler with his three daughters, on an unlikely luxury holiday at a South African safari resort that makes the Taj Mahal look like a cheap garden shed…

The mixture of slapstick and romance comes off entertainingly enough if hardly believably with parental care of their kids serving well as a catalyst for the final union of Barrymore and Sandler.

It helps a lot, too, that Bella Thorne, Emma Fuhrman and Alyvia Alyn Lind do well and believably enough too as Sandler’s daughters and Kyle Red Silverstein and Braxton Beckham as Barrymore’s sons all enter cheerfully into the anything-and everything goes spirit of the show.

But Blended belongs to the leads.

Sandler is splendid as the “90% goofy, 10% loser”, Barrymore exudes charm and sexuality, sympathy and an unexpected vulnerability as she inducts Sandler’s daughters into life without their late mother and he shows her son how to kick ass in a junior league baseball game.

Good taste is not really an option. So what?

Easy-going entertainment is.

And if you enjoy your laughs serves up farce and furious and attractively played as well, Blended blends nicely.

Alan Frank

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
117 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 19 May 2014