Of course it’s formulaic.
How could a romantic comedy not be formulaic?
In fact, it’s become so
predictable that many studios don’t do them any more, and many actors feel
that doing these roles limits their professional development because people
“pigeonhole” them into these very circumscribed roles.
But this one for those of you who
have longed for the good old days of rom-coms, when we had boy meets girl, boy
and girl don’t get along, then find themselves developing an interest
despite themselves, then after several twists and turns, finally, our happy
couple finds romance. And
we walk out of the theater holding hands with our spouses/dates/loved ones and
chuckle over the foibles of other people trying to work things out, even
though we all know it’s make-believe.
Well, the “blended” situation
portrayed here is very real-life for lots of folks out there.
There are all kinds of step-relationships,
half-siblings, exes, newbies, and spouses with kids that are either
“yours,” “mine,” or “ours.”
And dating all over again, when either
well-meaning friends set you up, or worse, you go online and deal with the
inevitable deceptions and misinformation and not telling the whole story?
Jim (Adam Sandler) and Lauren
(Drew Barrymore) start out on a blind date that is a complete disaster.
Neither really wants to be there, and they are
not at all impressed with each other.
We get to hear their true opinions, of course,
through her “gal” friend Jen (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and his “guy”
friend, Doug (the mammoth Shaquille O’Neal), both co-workers.
Both Jim and Lauren are single parents.
Jim’s wife died, and left him to raise his
three daughters, and though he’s a doting father, let’s just say his
parenting lacks a sensitive feminine touch.
Lauren is divorced, and has two sons who are
“all boy,” meaning she has her hands full with the hyper-activity of the
younger one and the hormonal pre-pubescence of the other.
When they all wind up at the same vacation spot
during the same time, they’re thrown together as if
they’re a “blended” family, which they’re not.
But they soon learn to be.
And it’s fun to watch the affection develop.
Along the way, we have opportunity
for all kinds of comedic moments, from slapstick to a band of over-the-top
African singers to a band featuring African monkeys.
But because this is family-oriented, we won’t
have the violence, the gutter language, the nudity, or the sexuality so
prevalent in other films, nor are there any chase scenes or car crashes or
just folks being who they are, which at times isn’t everything we’d like
them to be. Maybe
not even everything they’d like to be.
But somehow love will find a way.
Sure, it’s a little schmaltzy,
but also winsome, and cute, despite the occasional bathroom humor and sexual
families might especially enjoy this one:
perhaps most of all, those whose blending
hasn’t always gone smoothly.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister,
St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church,