May 24, 2014
The basic idea is that Barrymore's Lauren and Sandler's Jim have a terrible blind date and then through a contrived set of circumstances they find themselves on an African vacation with their respective kids. Forced to spend time together, the two single parent families eventually begin to “blend” and Jim and Lauren realize they have affections for each other. Blah, blah, blah. The idea of showing two families like this join together to create a new family unit is a good one, however, the way they go about it is just awful.
There is no denying that Sandler and Barrymore work well together. I do not really care if you like 50 First Dates or not, but I do and feel they had good chemistry. Here, they continue to show their ability to work well together, but the material they have chosen to work with here fails to come together and just does not work. It has a variety of tones mashed together haphazardly (kind of like The Monuments Men). There are moments of slapstick, verbal puns, serious relationship stuff, dealing with a dead mother, and the list goes on, it never comes together and is never quite as funny as it thinks it is.
Then there is the way those involved get to Africa. So, Lauren's partner (Wendi Mclendon-Covey, Reno 911), is dating Jim's boss, Dick (founder of Dick's). The relationship goes south right before a planned African vacation. Somehow, both Lauren and Jim manage to buy up the ticket from Dick to use the vacation themselves. How/why this would happen, I will never know. This gets them all to Africa where they see each other at the hotel. I guess Dick didn't get seats together on the plane.
I really do not think this movie deserves that much time. Still, there is some weird stuff going on. I do find it interesting to see former cinema darlings Sandler and Barrymore evolving into parenting roles. I was interested to see them dealing with children in things that are foreign to them, although it is all surface type stuff. How many jokes can we get about Lauren's son hitting puberty and Jim's daughter's looking like boys before it gets old? The answer is not many, but the writer's obviously did not believe that to be the case.
We also get the odd elements of the dead mother who worked at Hooters, along with one of the daughters having trouble dealing with the loss by seeing her lost parent as an invisible friend. This is some pretty heavy stuff to try and deal with inside of the confines of a lighthearted summer comedy. It never really attempts to dig very deep, but the inclusion left me in an odd place of trying to figure out how it fit. It is not exactly throwaway details.
In the end, we are left with a movie with few laughs and odd familial dynamics. It is not exactly box office gold. It is a waste of talent, yes, talent, to watch these people go through the motions, trying to attract a younger audience while recognizing their own aging processes, mixing with a movie that does not know exactly what it is, yet wastes no time trying to figure out. You would be better served revisiting their past collaboration as they try to figure out their place in the current landscape.
Posted by Christopher Beaumont at 5/24/2014 04:26:00 PM
Labels: 2010s, 2014, Adam Sandler, Comedy, Drew Barrymore, Movie Review, Romantic, Terry Crews, Theatrical Release
Chris has been an avid movie watcher for decades, getting into the writing game in 2004. Since that time he has contributed to a number online publications as well as running CriticalOutcast.com. In addition to movies, Chris is a big fan of music, particularly metal, and will never give up hope on his beloved Mets.