Before you start crying to your chat room bff about how mean this old lady was about your boyfriend, let’s get a few things clear. This is in no way a take down of Adam Sandler. I have no interest in trashing a Hollywood star whose movies I pay extortionate amounts of money to go and see. Okay, you got me, I love bitching as much as the next loser, but genuinely, and somewhat embarrassingly, I kind of enjoy an Adam Sandler movie on a lonely afternoon (which in no way implies spank bank, sickos). From a brief survey of my nearest and dearest, everyone hates him. This is clearly bullshit, because someone is bankrolling this bozo, amirite? According to Google, Adam Sandler is worth $300 million. Some of you bought tickets to his horrible movies. I own up, Jesus, I did it. I even have a couple of DVDs. I’m complicit in this whole mess. So now we’ve gotten that out of the way…
I’m mainly going to focus on Sandler’s most recent movie, Blended (2014), which sees him take a family trip with Drew Barrymore, and Just Go With It (2011), his “let’s makeover Jennifer Aniston” attempt. This isn’t a comprehensive dissemination of his films by any means, of which there have been total gems imho, like Funny People and Punch-Drunk Love (which looks beautiful, if nothing else). To include a third movie in this article would mean rewatching Grown Ups, and please lord don’t make that a thing right now. Life is hard enough. Plus I’m interested in the thematic overlap between Blended and Just Go With It, both movies about unconventional families, unexpected connections, and MAKEOVER-MAKEOVER-MAKEOVERS! And we’re talking multiple montages, people.
Just Go With It is the first movie Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler have made together, despite having known each other for over 20 years. It’s a remake (because there are no stories left, especially for a special collab such as this), and it’s super high budget: upwards of $80 million, allegedly, though most of that’s probably paying for the leads, and strange Hollywood cameos like Nicole Kidman. It tells the story of a plastic surgeon (Sandler), who’s spent his adult life seducing young women by wearing a fake wedding ring. It’s somehow foolproof and works EVERY time, because a married man hitting on you is never ever creepy. His assistant, super hot but wearing glasses Jennifer Aniston, has the smartest comebacks ever, but as a single mother of two wearing dowdy sandals, it has obviously never crossed anybody’s mind that she might be a good match. In Sandler’s defence, he plays his age for laughs, and it’s sometimes sexy when a man tries to take down your favourite TV shows, so I don’t even dispute his pussy-raking abilities (sorry, Mom).
Sandler meets Brooklyn Decker at a party. She walks toward him in slow-motion, he’s completely stunned and decides she’s the one for him. After mocking Gossip Girl, they have sex, because seriously, what’s more charming than that? But then Brooklyn find’s Adam’s fake wedding ring, thinks he’s married, doesn’t stick around to hear his excuses. For some reason, Jennifer Aniston helps Adam come up with a plan to make this hot 20-year old date him: she will pretend to be his ex-wife, divorcing him, paving the way for true love. TRUE LOVE, PEOPLE! Sometimes, all you need’s a little lie to get there, and, wait for it…A MAKEOVER.
Obviously, Jennifer Aniston is far too hideous to convince anyone that she was once married to Adam Sandler. So, out of the kindness of his heart/loins, Sandler takes Jen on a SHOPPING TRIP! And gets her a MAKEOVER. Then, she will be ready to play the part of a lifetime: Adam Sandler’s evil ex-wife. There is a beautiful music montage of Jen trying on a bunch of shoes and dresses, and the end result does not disappoint, like, Jennifer Aniston fans. I can’t speak for anyone else, really.
There is also a nod to Aniston’s HAIR, with a trip to the hairdressers where everyone mocks her truly disgusting barnet. Jeez, if my hair looked like that…I’d look like MONEY. Still, kudos for that little meta touch. It won’t go unrewarded.
By way of some ridiculous conceit, they all end up in Hawaii: Adam, Jen, her children, Brooklyn, and some comedy relief pretending to be Jen’s boyfriend. They’re an unconventional fake-family, trying to prove to Brooklyn that Adam is both soon to be single and father of the year, whilst simultaneously being on best terms with his ex-wife. Despite wearing an array of skimpy outfits throughout the holiday, no-one is prepared for what gets dubbed Jen’s “sneaky hot bod.” Because, seriously, a crochet dress with a million holes in the design gives no clue whatsoever as to what this woman might look like in a bikini because, y’know, she’s old and shit. Also, her brain and witty retorts and loyalty aren’t attractive attributes in the slightest. It really all boils down to the bikini shot, doesn’t it?
When Jen says she’s going to join Brooklyn in the Hawaiian waterfall, she gets a subtle takedown from Sandler and accompanying comic relief male. But once her clothes are off, their opinions quickly change. Suddenly, it’s no longer ridiculous to call her attractive. She’s a prospect, competing with the other women. The transformation is complete.
Adam brings up the ‘sneaky hot body’ again later, and although he also seems to begin recognising her other talents (her kindness, trustworthiness, energy), it’s really the body which sticks in his and everyone else’s heads. Because what’s more important? Are we really still defined by how we look in a two piece? However smart, funny, interesting, kind, supportive, brilliant we may be, does any of that shit matter if we don’t have perfect tan in a thong?
Sure, this is the conceit of every rom-com, really: the person in front of you who’s been there all along, who you’ve never seen as anything other than a friend, suddenly becomes viable, and it’s shocking. And why shouldn’t we see Jen’s semi-naked body? I, for one, love seeing it. But the idea that it is a total perception changer seems strangely stone-age. Jen is also totally interrogated for wearing perfume, like it’s something she’d never ever do. She’s consistently undermined, so she can bloom later, sure, but as the only person calling Sandler on his shit, these are cheap hits: her body, her cosmetics, her clothes.
Obviously, SPOILER ALERT, they fall in love eventually, and Sandler manages to overlook Jen’s age (thanks bro, you’ve done us a solid) to secure true love in the end. I’m not sure if we should thank him, exactly, as the mere implication Jen should be grateful that Sandler would even consider her, is borderline offensive, even if it’s a romantic comedy trope.
Blended is built on an incredibly similar conceit to Just Go With It. After an unsuccessful first date in Hooters, Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler hope to never see each other ever again. However, fate has other ideas, in the form of a family holiday to Africa: Adam takes his children, Drew hers, and they play happy families at a special resort for blended families.
Drew is her outspoken self, and totally hot forevs, though the people in her life see her as a dowdy, moany mom-type. This opening image of her having an issue with her food on that terrible first date is obviously how the filmmakers want us to see her: a disaster in need of help!
She’s way too mouthy to be a real contender for Sandler, though in this film’s defence, he doesn’t eye any ridic-younger women. There’s an awkward moment in a convenience store where Drew has to buy tampons on his daughter’s behalf – replete with convo about tampon size to vagina ratio. Really? Plus there’s baggy vagina chat at the check-out? For the love of Tom Cruise IV.
Needless to say, as the pair gradually bond by being sent on couple’s activities throughout the trip, Drew gets a makeover. Her friend sends a sexy dress for her to wear, and she gets her hair done. She, IN SLOW-MO, arrives at dinner to an open-jawed Sandler, who finallllllllly recognises what a hottie she is.
But Drew’s makeover isn’t the most blatant or offensive one. One of Sandler’s children is a teenage girl, about to win a sporting scholarship, and as her clueless dad works in a sporting goods store, all she ever wears is gym kit. She has a bad haircut because she doesn’t have a mom to advise her on such things, and everyone who approaches her in the first hour of the movie, assumes she’s a boy. This wouldn’t particularly be a problem, would it? Apart from the film’s screenwriters dictatorially want us to know that it is a problem: how fucking terrible to be androgynous, and to wear sporting gear! Also, the daughter has a massive crush on one of the boys on the trip with them, and just wants him to notice her. He of course doesn’t. So…do I even need to tell you what happens next? She gets a fucking MAKEOVER! Drew takes her for a haircut and she somehow emerges as a different fucking person, in SLOW MOTION, with everyone drooling, even middle-aged men. All a teenage girl wants, after all, is to be physically desirable, and the only way to achieve this is by wearing ultra-revealing clothes, shed loads of make-up, and hair extensions. It all works, obvs, and the boy of her dreams is instantly in love with her, personality be damned! I hope she quits sports too and gives up her dreams!
Still, a happy ending is the best any of us can hope for, and everyone in this film, post-makeover, gets a happy end of some sort. I’m not even implying that Adam Sandler shouldn’t attract such hot clientele, or that there’s anything really unusual with either of these movies. I bought tickets to them both, own one on DVD. Just, there’s something a little unsettling about women always being undercut by the comedian, the male lead, the comedy fodder, not because they can’t hold their own in conversation or with one-liners, because they completely can. But if it’s okay to degrade the world’s most successful women purely based on the outfit they’re wearing or the lack of make-up on their faces, then what hope is there for the rest of us? When will a makeover no longer be par for the course. When will Adam Sandler realise he’s in love with me because I’m a smart lady, rather than based on the shape of my ass in a swimming costume? Answers on a postcard, please.
Find the accompanying Pinterest board to this post here.