No one expects an Adam Sandler film to be Oscar material. His latest effort is no exception.
"Blended" contains all the predictable formula events that must follow once the obvious premise is laid out. The surprise here is that the edgy romantic comedy offers enough genuine humor and snappy dialogue to keep a cynical adult audience entertained.
Sandler reprises his romantic comedy partnership with Drew Barrymore. She plays a single mom having a hard time raising two boys. He plays a single dad raising three girls with difficulty. They clearly need each other. After some unusual stops along the way, the screenplay takes this "Brady Bunch" plot to its logical conclusion.
A detour to a luxury South Africa resort allows the blended family to bond in spite of themselves. The exotic location allows for many animal jokes and human quirks to provide comic relief. There are also enough references to bodily functions and sexual possibilities to push the PG-13 rating over the limit for some viewers.
But overall, the comedy works. My screening audience, with many teens present, laughed a lot more than I expected. For a movie of this genre, that's success.
A 'Future' for this franchise
As a fan of the "X-Men" movies, I have to say that "Days of Future Past" may be the most satisfying yet.
It seamlessly mixes many of the original trilogy's characters with the younger versions introduced in "X-Men: First Class." It's a bold concept and, while a lot to wrap one's head around, fresh and fun.
It's 1974, the Vietnam War is ending, and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) arrives from the future to enlist the help of Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to alter the course of history and save the "mutant" population. Meanwhile in the future, the older and arguably wiser X and Magneto (Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen) await the outcome that could save their lives.
There is complex drama, humor and excitement galore. McAvoy and Fassbender play off each other well, and Jennifer Lawrence (as Mystique) adds interest as the object of their rivaling loyalty.
Look for a show-stopping sequence featuring Quicksilver (Evan Peters) that had the audience cheering halfway through the film as well as at the end. More, please.
'Immigrant' a visual journey
Thus begins "The Immigrant," a bittersweet tale that is not perfect but is probably the most beautifully filmed I've seen in a long time. The lighting, costumes and music — and Cotillard's face — make this a story not soon forgotten.
Ewa gets the attention of Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix), a man from "Travelers Aid" who manages to exploit and worship her at the same time. Ewa despises him but needs the money and influence Bruno can provide to get her sister off Ellis Island.
Cotillard is heartbreaking; she communicates so much with her eyes. Phoenix gives a fairly unmannered performance for a change, at least until the end when he tries to channel Brando.
Jeremy Renner adds genuine magic (literally) as Orlando, Bruno's cousin. Handsome and with a dancer's grace, this usually intense actor lights up the screen and gives "The Immigrant" its heart.
JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator. SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.