The following is an open letter to the Hooters restaurant chain.
When you agreed to have the film's opening scene set in one of your restaurants -- and even allowed a monkey to be dressed as a Hooters waitress -- had you not gotten the memo that Blended isn't like Sandler's recent movies? Maybe you were expecting Blended to be the latest installment in Sandler's series of exceedingly raunchy and breathtakingly idiotic comedies. I expected it also, assuming that Blended would carry on the maturity-deficient tradition of Grown Ups, Jack and Jill, That's My Boy and the criminally unnecessary Grown Ups 2. Had this been the case, Hooters and Blended would have been a perfect marketing match, because Hooters and its fellow breastaurant chains are criminally unnecessary also. (Just kidding! Hooters may be the number one reason why America is the world's greatest country. You don't see breastaurants in Denmark!)
But apparently Sandler has pulled a fast one on us. Instead of an exceedingly raunchy and breathtakingly idiotic gross-out comedy, his new film is a tepidly raunchy and boringly dumb family comedy. If I hadn't seen Blended for free, I'd ask for my money back. And so should you, Hooters, for you and your waitresses do not belong in this movie. (The film's other major corporate sponsor, the uncontroversial Dick's Sporting Goods, is a much better fit.)
Had we done our homework, we would have known that Blended's story is more about family than farting, less about crotches than commitment. We would have realized that the titular blending involved two single-parent families bonding on a South African vacation, rather than a group of overgrown adolescents mixing gunpowder and excrement in a food processor just to see what would happen. And we would have known that Drew Barrymore's role as a lonely single mom is completely straightforward and sympathetic. (I'm disappointed that she's the down-to-earth owner of a closet organizing business. In a Sandler film, I assumed she'd be wearing a thong to work.)
So much else in Blended surprised and disappointed me, too. The film's story is so predictably boring and inoffensive! A single dad and single mom meet on a disastrous blind date and, through a series of convenient twists, end up on a luxury vacation with his three daughters and her two sons in tow. There are antics and more antics, blah blah blah, a teenage girl comes out of her shell, Mom and Dad fight until they fall in love, blah blah blah. And still more Hollywood blah, as the Brady Bunch chows down at buffets and goes on wildlife safaris. Not the best material to attract Hooters' target demographic of drunken 36-year-old frat boys watching The Big Game and hipsters looking for an ironic plate of wings to blog about, eh?
And what's with all the quiet, tender moments? Whenever Blended's characters aren't parasailing, jousting atop giant birds or otherwise trying to amuse us with their hijinks, they're baring their souls, giving gentle advice or singing each other to sleep. Again, Hooters, why would you want to be a part of all this lovey-dovey lameness? Did your focus groups tell you that people who like tender moments also like your Buffalo Shrimp? (If so, the chemistry-free Blended probably won't help your business. It's emotionally vacant; most of its attempts at genuine poignancy fall flat -- flatter than a rejected Hooters waitress job applicant.)
Then again, my Hooters friends, maybe you were betting that no Sandler film can be free of vulgarity. And right you are -- Blended may be a humdrum exercise in family filmmaking, but it's not without Sandlerian crudeness. Bodily function humor? Check. Penis/masturbatory references? Check. (I'm gonna go ahead and count all the mentions of, heh heh, Dick's Sporting Goods.) Cleavage? Check, although minimal (in frequency, not size). And the little girl telling vagina jokes is a nice touch!
Oh yeah, and cameos by Sandler regulars? Check. Shaquille O'Neal makes a brief appearance, as do Sandler's wife, daughters and mother. Sandler film veteran and Texas State Senator Dan Patrick also graces the screen as the CEO of Dick's Sporting Goods, appropriately named Dick.
Still, Blended's cameo and coarseness quotients are hardly up to the Sandler Standard, and I'm sure Hooters shares my deep disappointment in the film. Let's hope Sandler isn't giving up his title of Hollywood's Dunderhead Laureate and ditching his hard-edged idiotic lewdness in favor of flaccid (heh heh) fare like Blended. If he is, I won't waste my time reviewing his films. And Hooters, you should dump him also -- he'll just have to find more appropriate, family-oriented product placements. May I suggest Hobby Lobby?