Movie review – Blended: Tired and offensive

So, somehow Adam Sandler thought it would be a good idea to make a movie in 2014 about Africa in all its wild, untamed and tribal splendour.

Yes, his latest flick, Blended, throws all the cringeworthy punches you can imagine.

From the jazz hands and fake “African” accent of American actor Terry Crews to a supporting character called Mfana, it is a shameless sequence of tired stereotypes made for a seemingly ignorant, borderline unconscious audience.

When asked about his role, Crews said he wanted to express the more “cultural side of Africa”. He did this by gyrating wildly and ridiculing Africa’s choral tradition. He might just be as ignorant and borderline racist as his white counterparts.

The plot follows the same line as your usual cookie-cutter romantic comedy. Adam Sandler plays Jim, a widower with three daughters who embarks on his first blind date since the death of his wife. Also getting back on to the scene is divorced mother of two boys, Lauren, played by Drew Barrymore.

The first date goes terribly wrong, but even though the town they live in is probably bigger than Joburg, they run into each other over and over again, and eventually land up on the same family vacation in the vague mass that is Africa. Somehow, hate turns to love. Screenwriting genius at work here, obviously.

Oh wait, did I mention that the Africa we’re talking about is Sun City? It’s completely divorced from any urban or rural reality in this country. There is ostrich-riding and elephant-feeding, and large herds of giraffe and wildebeest walk gracefully across the “savannah”.

Similarly, the “native” people are divided into three categories: oversexed and leering, bumbling and inarticulate, or just bone lazy.

The film also strays into misogynistic territory, with one of Jim’s tomboy daughters transforming herself into a flesh-baring, eyelash-fluttering lady – and in seconds gaining the attention of her (admittedly gorgeous!) love interest.

Barrymore also becomes the apple of her cheating ex-husband’s eye again when she starts dressing up and is pursued by another man (Sandler). And all of this nonsense is played out without a glimmer of irony! Talk about vom.com.

While I had a few giggles at some of Sandler’s cheesy repartee and the series of unfortunate (but comical) events that befall the newly blending family, for the most part, this film made for some seriously uncomfortable viewing.

The South African extras all seem to have been given terrible one-liners, gossiping about the Americans in isiZulu (because all South Africans speak isiZulu, even in a Setswana region) or joking about rhinos in the throes of passion.

Of course, it is altogether possible that I missed the memo, and that flagrant racism and sexism is trendy on the film circuit. But somehow I didn’t think so. I think Sandler just got it horribly wrong.

http://youtu.be/8MuWt2X59fo

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