Tag Archives: Blended

Sex Tape

I did not laugh once during all 98 minutes of Sex Tape, and that is the least of its problems.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

sex tape 2I am convinced that Sex Tape is some kind of deliberate Andy Kaufman-esque prank on the rest of us.  It has to be, I will not accept any other excuse.  How did Cameron Diaz, a talented comedic actress, Jason Segel, a talented comic actor and a very good comedy writer, Nicholas Stoller, a very talented writer and director of comedy, and Jake Kasdan, responsible for the brilliance that is Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, create a comedy film so utterly dreadful?  Hell, not just a comedy, a dreadful film in general?  This is a failure on every single conceivable level, to such an extent that I feel like it’d be easier to list the things that the film does right, like “string enough moving pictures together so that the result technically resembles what one would consider a movie to look like”.  This is one of those times where I utilise the phrase “fundamentally flawed” and I absolutely mean it.  This should not have been released, this should not even have been filmed, and I refuse to believe that everybody involved went ahead on this project not realising this fact; there is too much talent involved here to give anyone any benefit of any doubt.

The premise is that Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel make a sex tape that Jason Segel accidentally syncs to a whole bunch of iPads and, because neither of them have any clue how technology works, this leads to the two of them trying to hunt down the iPads in order to erase it before anyone sees it.  I specify “premise” and mention the fact that Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel are in this film because I want to specifically draw attention to the fact that those things are all that Sex Tape has.  It has a premise and a cast and literally nothing else.  There are no jokes in Sex Tape.  There are no characters in Sex Tape.  There is no structure to Sex Tape.  There is no thematic backbone to Sex Tape.  There is no emotional undercurrent to latch onto in Sex Tape.  There is nothing to Sex Tape except the premise, the cast and 98 torturous minutes.

It all comes back to that screenplay, written by Segel & Stoller and Kate Angelo, who also came up with the story.  It’s barely a first draft, that’s how awful the thing is.  For example, despite running at a relatively svelte 98 minutes, there is still too much dead weight to Sex Tape.  There are too many characters that drop in, get extended sequences of screen-time and then drop out again despite having no effect whatsoever on proceedings, the most egregious example being Nat Faxon as Jason Segel’s workmate who pops up in one scene for three minutes, which is mostly focussed on his character despite him never showing up again and the scene having no reason for existing.  A good fifteen minutes, at least, of the runtime are spent at Rob Lowe’s house as they try and find his iPad.  Fifteen.  Fifteen whole minutes of this film are dedicated to one scenario where Jason Segel is chased by a dog and Cameron Diaz acts surprised that Rob Lowe isn’t a completely wholesome guy.  Lowe even disappears completely from the film after it’s done, just to rub salt into the wound!  Jack Black pops up at one point and the film stops dead for a full minute (not an exaggeration) to have him rattle off a seemingly endless list of porn site names.  It’s padding of the most blatant and egregious kind, as if it’s straight up admitting that there is not enough material to cover an entire 98 minutes of film.

Screenplay Problem #2: there are no characters here.  None.  None whatsoever.  Our leads barely qualify as one-dimensional and their romance is seemingly predicated entirely on sex.  One would think that this would lead to them going through a nuanced arc as they discover the true reasons why they married one another, but that’s not how it goes.  How it instead goes is that they both get angry and annoyed at one another until the film decides that they then love each other totally.  There’s no real change, no growth, no reason why this is brought on; they just hate each other until they don’t.  This is the most character development that goes on in the whole movie.  Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper turn up as happily married friends of Segel and Diaz, and the film promptly uses that set-up to have the pair of them be turned on by Segel and Diaz’s sex tape.  Yes, that is it.  The villain (yes, this film has a villain, don’t be surprised) is evil for literally no reason, Rob Lowe’s trait is that his character is a debauched degenerate who is the head of a family company ha ha ha, and Jack Black’s character amounts to “he has a stupid moustache and a fur coat.”

You may have already figured out Screenplay Problem #3 from that prior paragraph: there is no meaning to any of this.  You could use this premise to explore the issues of married life, of breaking out of modernity and revitalising the spark, of how making a sex tape maybe isn’t the most desperate thing you can do in a relationship, maybe contrast Kemper and Corddry’s happy marriage with Segel and Diaz’s unhappy one, or maybe even have the tape become something that the duo can treasure as proof of how strong their bond is.  As you may have figured out, none of that happens.  Scenes just lurch from one to another with no real meaning behind them, no theme, no character arc, no emotional reason to exist.  That last bit is especially ridiculous when the film decides, in the final fifteen minutes, to crash headfirst into sappy sentimentality and it all falls incredibly flat due to the aforementioned lack of characters, arcs or reasons to care.  There is nothing going on here and yet it lasts 98 minutes!  98 minutes of nothing!  This is literal time-wasting, people!  A lack of characters, well-developed or no, in a comedy doesn’t have to be a problem if that’s the point (like how Airplane! is a nonsense parody of disaster films, or how 22 Jump Street is an all-in parody and embracing of pointless comedy sequels), but you need a point, a reason for existing, otherwise you are literally just time-wasting.

Honestly, that last problem makes Screenplay Problem #4 seem completely irrelevant or, at the very least, minor in the grand scheme of things, but it needs mentioning anyway: there are no jokes in Sex Tape.  Stuff happens and you’re expected to laugh.  Hey, hey, did you know that the f-word is naughty and that saying it is funny for that exact reason?  Did you also know that sex is absolutely gross?  As is talking about sex?  And that white upper-class people can like metal and rap music?  Also, aren’t kids that don’t speak like kids just adorably funny?  And that adults who don’t know how to use technology are weird and out-of-touch?  There, I just listed every single bit of “humour” that Sex Tape wants to throw at you.  It’s all extremely obvious and very easy, lazily tossed off with near-total contempt for the audience who inexplicably were busting multiple guts during my screening.  I realise that humour is subjective, more so than pretty much anything else in life, but to laugh at this is to basically admit that you have no standards for comedy.  I’m sorry if you’re not willing to hear this, but it’s the truth, and the sooner you accept this fact, the sooner you can learn to better yourself.

Two further issues, real quick.  1) This film’s shilling of the iPad is absolutely ridiculous.  I get that the iPad is a necessary part of the film’s premise (again, not plot, big difference) and I am willing to suspend my disbelief when characters mention the thing by its brand name instead of just as “tablet” or some such.  When you repeatedly have characters stop the film and openly express the virtues of its camera and resolution and durability in extensive detail, then it crosses the line from a part of the film to gaudy and blatant product placement.  Unsurprisingly, this happens a lot.  An unacceptable amount of a lot.  2) You think late-series How I Met Your Mother was Jason Segel phoning it in as an actor?  Son, you have no idea.  You have no idea…

I don’t like to parrot my reviews 100% as consumer advice, because different people will find different things entertaining, especially with comedy, and I can’t tell you what you will and will not like, but I cannot order you enough to stay away from this one, folks.  What we have here are a whole bunch of really talented people, really talented people that have proven that they are really talented people who can do better, who have created 98 minutes of absolutely nothing, with nothing to say and no value whatsoever.  And I have come to two theories as to why this has happened.  Either everyone involved decided to see if they could get away with making and releasing a film with as little effort or work put into it as possible in an attempt to see how much damage their careers would take as a result, or they have purposefully crafted a comedy with no jokes or reason to exist to see if such a thing would be possible.  Attempted career suicide or performance art.  I don’t much like either theory but they’re the only ones I can come up with as to how these very talented people could fuck up so totally.  This may be the worst comedy of the whole dire year.  Blended may have been racist, sexist, and twenty unbearable minutes longer than this, but at least that movie had thematic and emotional arcs and a reason to exist!

Again, I don’t like parroting my reviews as full-on consumer advice, but I really did see Sex Tape so that you don’t have to.  And if you do see Sex Tape and laugh at it, with that laughter brought on by the film and no outside factors, then you have no sense of humour or low standards in humour and should devote extensive time to bettering yourself as a human being as a result.  Do not reward everyone involved in this.  Stay far away.

Callum Petch loves your love action.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

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What If

What If this was a good movie?  Ha.  Ha ha.  No, but seriously, this is insufferable tripe.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

what if 1It took roughly 20 minutes for me to consider whether walking out of the cinema would be preferable to sitting through the remaining 82 of What If, a “romantic” “comedy” from Michael Dowse, the director of 2012’s exceptional Goon.  It was during yet another conversation about shit, at least the fifth in that very short time-span, that I genuinely started wondering if I should just get up and leave.  Oh, I should mention, that is not me comically oversimplifying the various “witty” conversations that our two leads, Wallace and Chantry (and, no, I’m not making that up, either, that is her actual name), engage in.  There are multiple lengthy, graphic, in-depth and overall disgusting conversations about shit and, specifically, the way that you deal with a dead person’s shit.  This film has a weird obsession with shit which is apt, quite frankly, seeing as the film itself is total, irredeemable shit.

Folks, this one made me angry.  It made me really angry.  I saw it for free at an early screening and I wondered if I could go up to staff after the film had finished and try to swing getting a refund.  What If (previously titled “The F Word”) is a thoroughly misguided film predicated on two of the most vehemently unlikeable rom-com leads I have had the displeasure of being forced to be in the company of in I don’t even know how long.  Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in Blended were more likeable than these two turd-buckets!  At least their romance wasn’t based around them both being the most terrible people and having to screw over a perfectly decent guy in the process.  And this would be fine if that was the point or if the film at least had the tiniest bit of self-awareness of just how terrible these characters are and how their prospective romance makes them despicable people, but it’s there egging them on at every opportunity and openly inviting you, the viewer, to beg them to just cheat on the third wheel with one another so that true love can conquer all and other such shite.  Funnily enough, I did not; in fact, I found it quite reprehensible and only wanted them both to get together because they, being utter shitstains of human beings, truly deserved each other.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  Daniel Radcliffe plays Wallace, a British med-student drop out living in Toronto with his sister and her son and nursing a broken heart after his girlfriend, a fellow med-student, cheated on him over a year ago with their professor (and, yes, he did drop out as a result of this because he is a child).  At a party, his friend Allan (the normally dependable Adam Driver) introduces him to his animator cousin Chantry (Zoe Kasan) and the two hit it off until she offhandedly reveals that she has a boyfriend of five years, Ben (Rafe Spall, goddammit).  Wallace seems ready to just forget they ever met (because he is a child), but circumstances conspire to have them keep meeting up and they resolve to remain friends.  Except that both Chantry and Wallace seem to be really attracted to one-another, and when Ben’s job forces him to leave the country for six months, Chantry ends up spending more and more time with Wallace and you receive absolutely no prizes for guessing what eventually happens between the pair.

Here’s the thing, Ben absolutely does not deserve the treatment he gets put through by both Wallace and Chantry (hang on, allow me a second to restrain my laughter rage at that ridiculous name; apologies to any actual Chantrys out there, but when your name is used for a character in a rom-com as try-too-hard quirky as this one, I’m going to find it stupid).  You know how in rom-coms where one of the two leads are already in a relationship with somebody they make that other person a giant dick or show the lead to be unhappy in that current relationship, in order to make it less of a moral quandary that you’re basically wanting them to cheat or dump their partner to get with the other lead?  Yeah, that doesn’t happen here.  Ben is a stand-up guy, Chantry is happy being in a relationship with him, and they both try really hard to make the long-distance thing work.  The only crimes that Ben is shown to be guilty of are being correctly suspicious that Wallace just wants to get into Chantry’s pants, and not daring to ask her if she wanted to move with him to Dublin which he didn’t do because he didn’t want her to choose between her job and him.  That’s it.

Yet the film wants you to shout “YEAH!  F*CK THAT GUY!  You go for Wallace, Chantry!  You two are clearly meant to be together!”  And I know that that is the film’s intention because it keeps constructing these scenes where the pair share longing glances at one another, where the soft focus is deployed, the reverb drenched guitar strings ring, and one or the other spends a long time uncomfortably close to each other looking like they’re strongly considering making out.  Maker, there’s even a bit where the two go skinny dipping and Chantry actually says to Wallace as they both keep their gazes at eye level and cover up their private parts, “I’ll look if you look.”  So, what exactly is Ben guilty of?  Why should I root for Chantry to cheat on this perfectly nice man?  Because he may possibly have cheated on her with a member of the Argentinian delegation?  OK, why would I believe that, seeing as it’s Chantry’s suspicious accusatory remarks over a Ben and film who have given me absolutely no reason to disbelieve his insistence that they’re just friends?  Because he didn’t ask her to move to Dublin?  That would be a bit more understandable if, I dunno, his swell and non-dickish behaviour had given me any reason to distrust his pleas that he understands how much Chantry loves her job and doesn’t want her to have to sacrifice her career for their relationship.  Because he strongly distrusts Wallace’s intentions to just be friends with Chantry?  Err, yeah, sorry to burst your bubble, What If, but he’s completely right.

Why am I supposed to root for these two to screw over this guy?  He even asks for Chantry’s approval before taking the job overseas, and it’s not like those times where characters like her reluctantly say yes.  She jumps into his arms and embraces him over the idea!  He tries really hard to make the long-distance thing work, as does she.  He even takes her out with him on work-related commitments when she visits unannounced in order to spend time with her.  Why should I have to root for misery and unhappiness to befall him?  Because she can come up with more alternative names for Cool Whip with Wallace than she can with Ben?  F*ck off.  And this is especially bad with Wallace as, lest we forget, his last relationship ended when he was cheated on and we’re supposed to view that as completely unforgivable.  Yet we are supposed to root for Chantry to cheat on Ben with Wallace as it’s for true love, and Allan’s girlfriend (Mackenzie Davis) met Allen by cheating on her boyfriend too but that’s OK because true love!  So, according to What If, cheating is perfectly fine and dandy as long as the person you’re doing it with is your true love, otherwise it is an unforgivable sin and you are perfectly within your rights to act like a petulant child over it.

Again, this would all be fine if the film was about the fact that these are terrible people or if it had any modicum of self-awareness about proceedings or if the film really was just a mature look at how you handle being friends with someone you have a giant crush on but is off-limits (which is something I have been through multiple times, let me tell you).  But it isn’t, it doesn’t, and it doesn’t want to be.  It wants to be a straight rom-com where you are supposed to root for these two to get together no matter the cost.  There is one scene near the end where it seems like the film has been building all along to the “surprise, they’re terrible people!” reveal, but then it just turns out to be the late-game falling-out scene that staves off the inevitable for another ten minutes, like in pretty much every rom-com ever.  In a world where Gravity Falls, a Disney Channel cartoon for children between the ages of 8 and 11, is able to offer up a mature, heartfelt and sensible take on this kind of scenario, there is no excuse for something like What If (although that sounds like a dig at Gravity Falls, one of the best shows on television, which it is not, but I’m getting off-topic).

And maybe I could forgive this if the rest of the film wasn’t so insufferable.  But the presentation is so half-assedly try-too-hard quirky (the first half of the film has frequent overlays of stuff like how Fool’s Gold is made, or faces of people that our leads were previously in long-term relationships with when they’re discussed, or has Chantry’s animations very occasionally be displayed in the real world to create a false sense that they mean anything; before dropping all such “quirky” stylistic cues in the entire second half), and the leads are so checked out (Harry Potter proved that Daniel Radcliffe could be rather proficient at deadpan snarking but he clearly does not give a crap here) and have so little chemistry with one another, and the supporting cast are all so inept or so totally wasted (Adam Driver turns up to alternately say dickish-yet-ultimately-right things or yell randomly because people who yell are funny), and the script is completely devoid of wit (once again: shit) or jokes or actual romance, that I can’t.  I just can’t.  There is nothing decent about this film and all that ends up doing is exposing its more systemic flaws.

What If’s premise, a look at how hard it can be to remain friends with someone you have a giant crush on, is one that deserves far better than it is served here: as a straight rom-com that asks the audience to root for the petulant guy who doesn’t seem to understand boundaries and a girl who permanently seems five seconds away from cheating on her boyfriend to get together and screw over this perfectly nice third wheel.  If the film was more mature or showed reasons for the audience to get behind this central will-they/won’t-they (like maybe Ben really is a dick, or actually showing Ben and Chantry growing apart from one another), it could still be salvaged.  But the script is tone-deaf and has no setting beyond “but TRUE LOVE!!”  Mind, in the end, I was rooting for Wallace and Chantry to get together because, as it turns out, they really do deserve each other as they are both utter shitdicks.  Still didn’t stop me greeting the ending with a resounding “Oh, f*ck off,” of course.

Call me old-fashioned, but I like my romantic-comedies to contain at least a trace amount of romance and/or comedy.  As you may be able to gather, I don’t find possible infidelity to be particularly romantic, and as for the comedy I would like to once again remind you that there are multiple conversations about faecal matter and shit in dead people.  I despise this movie, despise it with every fibre of my being, and I will give both of my hands, Only God Forgives style, before I let this film go down as anything other than a putrid stain on the rom-com genre.  Do not let Daniel Radcliffe’s face fool you, this is tripe.  Avoid at all costs.

What If is released in cinemas nationwide from Wednesday 20 August 2014.

Callum Petch hopes it doesn’t seem like he’s young, foolish and green.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

Blended

BlendedCynical, lazy, sexist, racist, prolonged torture.  All of these descriptors and more apply to Blended.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

You know, every point this year where I think that we have hit the bottom in regards to film releases, I keep getting proven wrong.  First, there was A New York Winter’s Tale back in February, still one of the worst films I have ever seen (incidentally) and a total failure in all basic aspects of moviemaking.  I was certain that we would not see anything close to its level for the rest of the year.  March quickly put pay to that line of thinking with 300: Rise of an Empire which gained points for at least passing basic filmmaking standards but immediately lost all of those points for being a hateful piece of misogynistic tripe.  The tail-end of April presented, for my consideration, Ava-Tarzan, quite possibly the worst feature-length animated film to see the light of day since 2006.  And now, as May gives way to June, we have Blended.

Folks, I do not like having to re-evaluate what the worst film of the year is every month.  Not, of course, so that I have a headline grabbing phrase to parade my review around with when the time comes (papa don’t play that way), but because I don’t like having to subject myself to films that keep striving for new levels of badness.  It’s like they’re in competition with one another.  “I’ll see your total failure at basic filmmaking conventions and raise you blacked-up actors and an attitude to women not unlike that of a psychopathic thirteen year-old!”  Only there are no winners in their contest, and we, the film-going audience, but mostly just me because I don’t have a choice in subjecting myself to these avant-garde attempts at flinging poo onto a film reel and releasing the result, suffer due to their petty game of one-ups-man-ship.

Blended is a comedy made by statisticians and accountants.  It is a comedy made by people who have not got the first clue of how to tell a joke but have seen far more talented people make a lot of money telling jokes, and so decided to make their own comedy purely to get at that money.  Of course, being statisticians and accountants, this comes with the built-in handicap of nobody involved knowing how to tell a joke.  But such an issue does not stop them from their dream of making loadsamoney as they have hatched a cunning plan.  Instead of coming up with jokes, with set-ups and punchlines and wit and insight and originality and all of those things that make up good jokes and which allow things that would otherwise cross lines of good taste pass by unscathed, they would instead simply present people with concepts that are supposedly inherently amusing and ask you to laugh at them.  Who cares if you only laughed at them in other films because they had actual craft in their construction?  Their graphs and pie charts and glances at two minute red-band trailers on YouTube show that you laughed at these topics in other films so, mathematics dictates, you will laugh here too and their film won’t offend anyone at all!

I’m just going to go straight for the jugular here, I think that Blended is racist.  Nowhere is this more apparent than with Terry Crews’ “character” (for the fully intended effect, I want you to imagine that those air quotes are as tall as a New York skyscraper) whose entire character can be summed up as “look at the funny black man with the weird voice and the crazy eyes sing the word blended over and over again!”  He comes with a back-up crew of about seven other people who look exactly like him and have the exact job description.  Crews wanders about the screen nearly always leaning forward, eyes looking like they’re ready to pop out of his skull, voice sounding like a drunk Oxford senior’s party impression of what he thinks ‘the blacks’ sound like, and the joke is the same every time.  “Laugh at this walking black stereotype!”  There’s no nuance, nothing profound, no grand subversion.  Just, “Laugh at this walking black stereotype!”  It’s like a minstrel show periodically gate-crashes the rest of the film; I was waiting for Joel McHale (who appears in two scenes playing the total douche role he did far better in Ted two years ago) to show up covered in black shoe-polish to seal the sorry mess.

AND IT’S A JOKE THEY KEEP COMING BACK TO!  Again and again and again with no change in pacing or tone or content, until the realisation set in that this racist stereotype is something that everyone involved in the film thinks is legitimately funny.  Not ironically funny, not a set-up for a takedown of such outdated and offensive stereotypes.  No, it’s something that is supposedly just hilarious because “Laugh at this walking black stereotype!”  The other black characters (I count three with names) aren’t anywhere near as pronounced in their racist caricatures but the joke is still nearly always “Look at the black man talking with the funny voice!”  Well, except for Shaquille O’Neal.  He turns up for two scenes, for some reason, and his joke is that a man of his size and physicality cries over-dramatically at something.  I’ll let you decide if that’s a real step up or not.

I’m sorry, I thought we were past this?  I thought that we’d all come to the realisation that this kind of shit does not fly anymore?  That it was outdated and offensive?  That we’d actually have to work to get laughs from our characters of colour now by writing actual characters and actual jokes?  Say what you want about Ride Along but that at least tried writing actual characters and actual jokes for those characters, instead of going, “Laugh at this walking black stereotype saying words that sound different coming from his funny voice!”  Yet, every time Terry Crews came on screen, the audience in my screening were giggling and guffawing as if his every sequence was a classic Malcolm Tucker tirade.  I don’t get it.  How can these people not tell the difference between a clever subversion of racist stereotypes with an effective payoff (which this is not) and an uncomfortable one-note stereotype that has no substance to the joke besides the fact that he’s a walking black stereotype (which this is)?

Sorry, sorry.  I’m allowing my own moral and social beliefs to infect my judgement of a film again.  My bad.  I should leave the racism point behind and move on to my next point which is that Blended is sexist.  Question: are you a girl who dresses in a decidedly unfeminine manner?  Congratulations!  Blended thinks you’re a man or a lesbian or someone who is willingly holding themselves back from love and happiness and acceptance by society, and it won’t stop letting you know that for the whole film by constantly making fun of people who look like you and using jokes based around literally those same points I just mentioned!  I dread to think of how more sensitive people who happen to choose to style and dress themselves in an unconventionally unfeminine way will react to the constant scorn and mockery the film throws their way.  The film hints towards revealing that Jim (Adam Sandler) is practically forcing his daughters into dressing this way and participating in such a masculine lifestyle because he’s living through them or something, but nope.  Lauren (Drew Barrymore) practically swoops on in and unlocks Hilary’s (Bella Thorne) femininity and voila!  She’s actually totally gorgeous and so much happier now that she’s an actual woman and oh my gods typing these words are making me realise just how truly horrible the whole thing is.

In fact, quick sidebar: this film’s usage and treatment of Bella Thorne worries me.  For one, there are the aforementioned “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you looked like a guy” jabs which are constant, demeaning and never once deviate from exactly what I just typed.  For two, and much more problematic, I got the vibe that we, the entire audience, are supposed to find Bella Thorne super-hot.  She was 15 at the time of filming and her character in the film is 15, too.  Yet her second scene (no prizes for guessing what the first was) involves her in a bra in front of the mirror, sticking out her apparently non-existent chest for the camera and lamenting her apparent lack of breasts.  It feels creepy but maybe I could let it slide on the basis that the camera (to my recollection) does not focus totally on her chest and the fact that if this was a coming-of-age drama, or something, I’d probably not get that interpretation from the scene.

What I cannot excuse is later on, when she makes her grand womanly-charms-embracing re-entrance and the camera introduces her in the same way that other films introduce their much older female stars when they want to get across how good they look.  You know the way: camera pans up in slow-motion from their legs all the way up the body so that the last part revealed to you is their face because the face is always the least important part of a woman, apparently.  Back it with appropriately sexy music (which the scene does eventually, in a gag that I still do not understand), cross-cut to other characters’ stunned reactions and maybe blow a little gust from the wind machine in their direction and watch the number of people getting a visit from Chris Hanson shoot through the roof.  Now, you may sit there and claim that my mind chose to go there and that I’m the pervert and paedophile.  I would retort by noting that I got that interpretation from the scene because the scene employed the conventions that appear in such a sequence and if it didn’t want that interpretation, it should not have filmed it in such a way.

Also, this is a film that has a joke involving a teenage boy sexually harassing a girl who appears to be maybe three years older than him in the finale, and you’re supposed to not be offended and even find it charming because you’ve already spent 110 minutes in this creep’s presence so it’s acceptable, I guess.  Try telling me that I’m the one who is off-base about this film’s intentions.  Go on, I’m waiting.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh, yeah, Blended’s casual sexism.  So, Jim is an asshat.  A total, barely likeable asshat, much like all of Adam Sandler’s characters.  This is a character who named his child Espn after… you know what, I’m going to let you figure that one out.  He’s rude, boorish, demands fist bumps after every supposedly cool thing he ever does and, somehow, he is still a better person than Lauren is.  Lauren, you see, is often exactly like Jim (minus the fist bumps, thanks the Maker) but she always happens to cross the line whenever her and Jim are in a verbal sparring match.  She’s also shown to be a terrible mother, whose kids are a future sex offender/serial perverted murderer and a kid who may or may not have ADHD and who keeps getting his hand banged really hard on walls by Lauren because child violence is hi-larious?  Jim’s daughters, meanwhile, are a little one who just says the darndest things, the middle child who still talks to her mom (who died of cancer years ago, which the film likes to bring up for drama with Jim, and only Jim, whenever it gets the chance) and whose grief is used near-exclusively for “look at that weirdo” comedy, and the tomboy we’ve already discussed (also it’d be remiss of me not to mention an excruciatingly awful scene in which Hilary beats a boy in basketball and, when the boy is informed that she’s a girl, Terry Crews’ Minstrel Society jumps in out of nowhere to re-enforce traditional gender values with a song about how embarrassing it is to be beaten by a girl at a sport).

As for the other women in the film who are on screen for more than 10 seconds; we have a babysitter who is the target of sexual obsession by the older of Lauren’s two sons, Lauren’s alleged best friend who is shown to be a completely selfish, inconsiderate and repulsive human being at all times, an air-headed trophy wife the group stumble across on the Africa trip and whose entire character involves speaking like a bad Kristin Chenoweth impersonator and shaking her cleavage for the camera, and a group massage leader who has no character except for her poor British accent.  “Now, hold up, Callum!” you’re probably going.  “The film has dreadful male characters, as well!  It’s equal opportunities poor treatment!”  True, but I have two things I want to note to you.  The first is that, with the exception of two hecklers at a child’s baseball game and that Joel McHale cameo and I guess Lauren’s children, these are mainly black people.  Jim’s an asshat, but the film constantly tries to put him in a likeable light, more so than it does Lauren, anyway, so The White Guy is the least terrible person in the film.  The second is this fact: the worst physical humour that befalls Jim is that he is flung from an ostrich into a drinking trough.  The worst physical humour that befalls Lauren is that she is nearly speared in her vagina by a rhino that she avoids by spreading her legs like one does when they’re gearing up for sex.

Sorry, sorry.  I appear to have let my personal moral and social beliefs overtake this film review.  Again.  It’s the beginning of A4 page 4, now, and you want to know the reasons why I hate Blended that can’t be traced back to my own personal hang-ups.  OK, then.  Sandler and Barrymore have no chemistry, which is especially surprising since they’ve already done this twice before.  Every child actor or actress in this is appalling, pulling off that overly stagey “LOOK AT MY ACTING I AM ACTING SO HARD” thing that all terrible child actors and actresses do.  It is atrociously paced, withholding the ending long past the point it should appear in order to artificially pump up the run-time to two hours.  It looks extremely cheap, pretty much all of the animals are CG and not in the slightest bit convincing.  Its tone, particularly in that unnecessarily long final 20 – 30 minutes, is whiplash inducing whenever it brings up the whole “Jim’s first wife died of cancer” thing.  It practically stops at several points and becomes a tourist destination ad for South Africa.  It thinks that the height of comedy is having a shot of two CG rhinos doing each other like dogs.

Have you got enough yet or do you need me to go on?

Look, I wouldn’t make such a big stink out of this if there were jokes here.  I’m not infallible, I can acknowledge that something’s offensive but still find it funny.  If the joke’s good enough, I will laugh at it and that’s a guarantee.  But Blended has no jokes.  Again, this is a film that thinks that the concept of sexual harassment is a funny enough gag to put at the end of your film, that having a teenage boy try to claim that their mother can do better than somebody like Jim because “she’s hot” is such a funny and messed up thing that it should run that joke into the ground at every opportunity, that a grown man poorly phrasing his question about what tampon is best for his teenage daughter is just raucous material, and that foreign black people are automatically hilarious because stereotypes.  These are not jokes, these are carnival side-show attractions brought out for your amusement without any effort made in the department of them being worthy of your amusement.  It’s just “Black people: laugh!  Women who look like men: laugh!  Drew Barrymore may get impaled through her vagina by a rhino: laugh!”  So when this is all the film can be bothered to come up with, hell yeah, I’m going to fixate on the troublesome undertones it ends up peddling!  There’s nothing to distract me from them, because the jokes aren’t funny, so why wouldn’t I find them a legitimate problem?

I honestly didn’t think that Adam Sandler and his Happy Madison production company had any lower to go after they turned statutory rape into a light-hearted set-up for a bawdy comedy.  But, much like my continuing belief that 2014 can’t keep churning out even worse films, it turns out I was proven wrong.  Blended is lazy, cynical filmmaking; the kind of film that’s slapped together with no effort or talent and shunted out of the door on the belief that the audience will turn up to anything with a big star’s name on it.  And I think that’s why this trash angers me so.  That it’s not even trying to be offensive, it’s not trying to push any boundaries of taste for comedic effect or anything.  It wasn’t setting out to be racist and sexist or anything like that, it just turned out that way because it lazily tried to present things that it thought were inherently funny with no effort towards making them funny and no effort put into thinking of the implications of not adding jokes to these supposedly inherently funny concepts.  This is trash, trash of the lowest order.  I do, however, hesitate to say that 2014 can’t bottom out any further, because I don’t want to jinx anything.  I do not want to experience a film worse than Blended in a cinema in 2014.  Please.

I did not like it.

Callum Petch races towards an early grave.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!