And while there are not as many as one would expect in this piece, it still bears some of Sandler’s infantile trademarks.
Having aged and matured, Sandler is now attempting to broaden his market by providing more family-friendly fare, with a dash of romance and an exotic location. He takes his bag of tricks to Africa – Sun City to be more specific – for a holiday jaunt full of mishaps. The film gives the casino resort great exposure, shows off some wildlife one might be fortunate to encounter on a normal game drive, and espouses the spirit of family and togetherness.
Many of Sandler’s previous offerings descended into a morass of mediocrity, but at least this effort is a passable offering, with a few chuckles along the way as it plods to its inevitable conclusion.
Under the direction of Frank Coraci, who has directed the actor in three movies, Sandler reunites for the third time with Drew Barrymore as the two characters try to ignite a relationship beneath an African sky. The storyline is simple, a contrivance that has widower Jim (Sandler) and his three daughters and divorcee Lauren (Drew Barrymore) and her two sons trapped in the same luxury suite during their Sun City holiday.
This incident occurs in the wake of a disastrous blind date the couple had in America and the characters, understandably, are not on friendly terms. But Jim bonds with Lauren’s youngest son by teaching him how to play baseball and Lauren connects with Jim’s 15-year-old daughter by giving her a makeover.
This romcom will gain some traction with South Africans because of the Sun City connection, but some of the activities there have been styled for American audiences, including a musical group, a sort of Greek chorus, with an over-the-top singer (Crews) who is more Caribbean than African and who materialises at weird moments with lyrical advice and obscene gestures. There’s also a brief appearance by Proteas star bowler Dale Steyn, hurling cricket balls at one of the younger characters.
A key element lacking in the film is the romantic heat between Jim and Lauren, which is never allowed to ignite. The children, on the other hand, add a bit of zest to the undertaking and there are some fun moments with them. Overall, Sandler is fine: he’s rather likeable and Drew Barrymore is sweet.