With movies, as with parties and dinners at restaurants, evaluations are influenced by expectations. Going in to Blended, I knew that Adam Sandler movies have been less than wonderful in recent years. On the other hand, Sandler and Drew Barrymore made two highly entertaining movies together, 1998’s The Wedding Singer and 2004’s 50 First Dates.

Happily, Blended conjures up the vibe of those two Adam-Drew films, rather than those of That’s My Boy, Don’t Mess With The Zohan, Jack and Jill, etc.

Not that Blended is an award-winner, but it is cute and funny. It’s a sweet love story whose outcome is pre-ordained. Jim (Sandler) and Lauren (Barrymore) are single parents. They have a terrible blind date—at Hooters—but meet again in a store where they help each other out. Through a strange and highly unlikely turn of events, they end up sharing a suite—with their kids—at a resort in South Africa.

They try to make the best of it. Jim, Lauren and all their kids enjoy the resort’s amusements including safaris, ostrich rides and parasailing—with comic results.

Here’s some parental guidance. Blended appears to be a comedy for the whole family, like Cheaper By The Dozen or Yours, Mine and Ours. But it is rated PG-13 and contains some naughty content you might find offensive for your preteens. Some of it will go right over their heads but other parts, such as a shot of humping hippos, are rather direct.

Also in the cast are Sandler’s SNL cohort Kevin Nealon as Eddy and Jessica Lowe as his trophy wife Ginger. Wendy McLendon-Covey of Bridesmaids plays Lauren’s business partner. Joel McHale is Lauren’s smarmy ex-husband. Shaquille O’Neal and Dan Patrick have brief appearances.

Blended is not as good as the earlier Sandler-Barrymore pairings, but it delivers some solid laughs and a happy outcome—and those are good things. It also contains situations most parents—single or married—can relate to.

Maybe the best thing Blended has going for it is the lines will likely be much shorter than those for X-Men and Godzilla.




“Big Miracle”—(Whale Tale)

Many things are going on in “Big Miracle.” Animals are in peril. Ways of life are threatened. The environment is at risk. Media are swooping in. And a relationship may or may not be rekindled.

As with movies like “Apollo 13” and “Titanic,” you know pretty much how things will turn out. It’s the telling of this real-life story (with some fictionalized aspects added in to make it more dramatic) that gets you to the resolution in an entertaining way.

This is an excellent family film. No sex, violence, nudity or profanity. Take the kids. Take Grandma.

The crisis occurs in October, 1988, when early cold weather freezes the surface of ocean waters near the northern tip of Alaska, trapping three whales who need to surface often for oxygen. The whales need to get to open water to begin their annual migration to Baja.

Help comes from many sources: the native Eskimos (who initially consider harvesting the whales), Greenpeace (Drew Barrymore plays an activist), Big Oil (Ted Danson is the oil mogul), the military (Dermot Mulroney is a National Guard commander), the USSR (a Soviet naval vessel chips in) and the media (John Krasinski is the TV news reporter who breaks the story which soon gets national attention). You can read my blog post about the Public Relations lessons this movie offers on my PR blog: “Big Miracle” Movie Has Useful PR Lessons

The talented cast also includes character actors Stephen Root, John Michael Higgins and Tim Blake Nelson—if you don’t know their names, you know their faces. Ahmaogak Sweeney makes a nice movie debut as Nathan, an Eskimo youngster.

The underwater shots of the whales are spectacular. The archival video of network news anchors Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather reminds us that this was a real event.

“Big Miracle” is entertaining and will make you feel good. One more thing: the depiction of extreme cold in “Big Miracle” will make you appreciate our current mild winter weather even more.