Valdosta Daily Times

Features

June 3, 2014

‘Blended’ is blended entertainment

-- — “Blended” (Comedy: 1 hour, 57 minutes)

Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore and Emma Fuhrmann    

Director: Frank Coraci

Rated: PG-13 (Crude humor, sexual innuendo and profanity)

Movie Review:
“Blended” is reminiscent of “50 First Dates” (Director Peter Segal, 2004), which also starred Sandler and Barrymore. In “Blended,” they play two people once again trying to find a relationship with each other. Their coupling is bad to the point it is almost good.

Jim (Sandler), a widower father of three girls, and Lauren (Barrymore), a divorced mother of three, meet on a blind date. Their encounter is bad. They leave the date disliking each other. However, a mix-up with their credit cards has them meet one more time, and they find they still hate each other. On a vacation in South Africa, they notice they are good for each other’s children. Jim’s daughters needs a mother figure, and Lauren’s boys could use some manly encouragement. This connection via their children also gives Jim and Lauren another chance to see each other anew.

Director Coraci was responsible for “The Waterboy” (1998) and “The Wedding Singer” (1998). This film is on the asinine side. It tries to be emotional, but it fails to become more than goofy comedy. It has only a few genuine laughs, but laughter happens because the scenes are goofily funny, not because of the quality of entertainment.

The end the latter half of this screenplay is noteworthy, but the prior half is tragic. It is childish material. Elementary material is the presentation, and such terrible comedy then recycled throughout. Sandler films have a way of telling the same joke repeatedly until the joke is dry. Apparently, his comedy does not realize a joke is funny the first time. Then again, perhaps he is anticipating the caliber of audiences who value his modern comedies.

Sandler’s earlier works were funny and clever. Now, they are just silly. “Blended” is half-silly. The end is moving and works well to create fine entertainment. Too bad, the first hour is goofy.

Grade: C (Bad and good, blended.)

 

“The Railway Man” (Biography/Drama: 1 hour, 56 minutes)

Starring: Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Hiroyuki Sanada, Jeremy Irvine and Stellan Skarsgård   

Director: Jonathan Teplitzky

Rated: R (Strong violence and thematic elements, including torture)

Movie Review:
Sometimes, war delivers the most human of stories. An adaptation of the autobiography by World War II veteran Eric Lomax, this is the true account. It is a gratifying movie about forgiveness and the healing of hurtful scars.  

Lomax (Firth), a British Army officer during the war, was tortured as a prisoner of war in a Japanese labor camp. Many years later, Lomax’s wife, Patti (Kidman), inquires what happens at the labor camp. The questions trigger Firth to relive his time at the camp, memories that still haunt him. Information from fellow veteran and friend Finlay (Skarsgård), who was also at the internment camp, reveals the man who tortured Lomax, Takeshi Nagase (Sanada), is still alive.

This news prompts Lomax to seek the man once responsible for his imprisonment.

This is a great tale. It is about war and the forgiveness that follows. This film shows two men, Lomax and Nagase, enemies during wartime.

The relationship they have before and after the war is one worthy of runtime on the big screen.

Academy Award-recipient Firth (“The King’s Speech,” 2010) and Sanada (“The Twilight Samurai,” 2002) play the older characters well. Both are seasoned actors.

They provide exceptional portrayals. One can almost feel the insanity they transmit via fine acting. Their characters become more powerful near the end in what is the most intense scenes.

However, Irvine and Tanroh Ishida play the younger versions of Lomax and Nagase superbly. Irvine is superior, delivering a noteworthy performance. Ishida brings a nice passion to this story as its main antagonist. They are joined my Sam Reid, who plays young Finlay. Reid looks like the classic hero from films of yesteryear. Together, the young men provide needed energy to the screenplay.

In many ways, the scenes with Irvine, Ishida and Reid are the best because they give this film a shot in the arm with a boost of energy. Otherwise, the film’s pace drags at moments, so the flashbacks act as a nice means to rejuvenate the fact-based story when it slows.

Still, Lomax’s story is worth seeing. It is a touching story about forgiveness. Such a kindness is a lesson worth observing.

Grade: B (Lomax’s life is intriguing.)

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